2019 NFL Season Preview- Chicago Bears
The Bears benefited from a key trade and enthusiasm of a new head coach to emerge from irrelevance in the NFC North.
2018 marked Chicago's first winning season since 2012 and their first playoff appearance since 2010. However, the NFC North champion's season ended in disappointment as they lost to the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in the wildcard round on a missed field goal.
The offense incorporated a lot of run pass option sets and showed imagination on clever scoring drives. Quarterback Chase Daniel started two games and was solid overall. Running back Jordan Howard's running style didn't fit the new blocking scheme and looked a step slow even when healthy. He was able to find running lanes easier late in the season, but still averaged under four yards per carry. Tight end Trey Burton had a positive year with six touchdowns and filled numerous roles in the offense, but missed the team's playoff game with a groin injury. Adam Shaheen was slowed by a foot injury, but his size makes him a dangerous red zone target. Dion Sims didn't fit into the new offensive scheme. Wide receiver Allen Robinson gradually got better after tearing h's ACL in 2017, but his overall stats leave a lot to be desired. Taylor Gabriel didn't display much after the catch running, but did surprise with his ability to get deep. Kevin White is officially a bust with just four catches. The offensive line was one of the few units affected by injuries, but they were still able to overcome them. After right guard Kyle Long returned from a foot injury, the line became more physical in the running game. Right tackle Bobby Massie has his best season, finishing the year without a holding penalty.
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman continued to be a devastating interior block eater. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd played through a hand injury and emerged as the second best pass rusher. Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan was the on field leader and finished with 102 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. The linebacker corps lost its depth when Sam Acho and Aaron Lynch went down. Cornerback Prince Amukamara was solid as a zone corner. Bryce Callahan was solid as the team's nickel corner, but was again hampered by injuries. Safety Adrian Amos improved in pursuit and defending 50-50 throws.
Kicker Cody Parkey had a disastrous season with 11 missed kicks including the double doink that ended the Bears season. Punter Pat O'Donnell wasn't consistent enough and long snapper Patrick Scales got some notice for a few bad snaps.
The team had eight Pro Bowlers in quarterback Mitch Trubisky, left tackle Charles Leno Jr, center Cody Whitehair, defensive end Akiem Hicks, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson, and kick returner Tarik Cohen while Mack, Fuller, Jackson, and Cohen were also named to the All-Pro team. Trubisky became more comfortable with the offense throwing 24 touchdowns and cut down on the interceptions as the year went on. Leno has started every game for the Bears since 2016 and played well given his shorter height. Whitehair overcame some shotgun snap issues and returned to his impressive rookie form. Hicks emerged as a team leader with 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. The team traded for Mack just before the start of the season and his skills lifted the defense and created opportunities for his teammates while registering 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and a pick six. Fuller realized his full potential by learning to bait quarterbacks and tied for the league lead with seven interceptions. Jackson knows how to anticipate and play angles as he finished with six interceptions and two touchdowns. Cohen is the teams most dynamic weapon and finished with 1,603 all purpose yards and nine total touchdowns.
The rookie class was one of the most complete in team history. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith held out for a month, but was quick to pick up the defense and his speed became a weapon all over the field. Left guard James Daniels successfully switched from center to become the starter midseason. Wide receiver Anthony Miller was invisible at different times in the season but still led the team with seven touchdowns receptions. Defensive end Bilal Nichols battled through a minor knee injury all season but still made some big plays. Wide receiver Javon Wims played well in the season finale and could have a bigger role in 2019.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
With the successful 12-4 season, head coach Matt Nagy gave the team a spark that puts the Bears on track for future playoff runs and was named the 2018 NFL Coach of the Year.
After defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos, the team hired former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to be the new defensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- RB Mike Davis, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, T TJ Clemmings, CB Buster Skrine, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, K Eddy Pineiro
Notable Departures- RB Benny Cunningham, RB Justin Howard, WR Josh Bellamy, WR Kevin White, TE Dion Sims, TE Zach Miller, CB Bryce Callahan, S Adrian Amos, K Cody Parkey
Bears 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Since the Bears traded their first round pick to Oakland in exchange for Khalil Mack, they didn't have a pick until the second round. With such a late first pick, they have to be smart to fill holes at running back, tackle, and cornerback.
Jordan Howard wasn't a fit for Matt Nagy's offense. The team needs a strong back who can break long runs.
Bobby Massie was solid last year, but is better suited as a swing tackle. The line needs a power blocking right tackle to open up the running game.
With Bryce Callahan gone, the team needs another slot defender. Buster Skrine provides depth, but he's known as a penalty machine.
When it finally came time to pick, Chicago selected Iowa State running back David Montgomery with their second round pick. Montgomery has great cut back ability with smooth change of direction, but lacks elite level speed.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia- Strong hands and long arms, slow release
Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State- Instinctive in coverage, limited to nickel corner
Kerrith Whyte Jr, RB, FAU- Tough and explosive runner, below average vision
Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State- Imposing size and length, ugly game tape
David Montgomery Highlights
What To Expect
The key for the Bears moving forward is to build on their momentum from 2018.
Mitch Trubisky took a big step forward in his sophomore season, but still needs to improve on his game situation awareness and deep ball touch. David Montgomery has the shifty cutting skills that should work in Matt Nagy's offense but Tarik Cohen will also have his fair share of touches in the backfield. Trey Burton should continue to grow in his second year with the team but Adam Shaheen has to prove he can stay healthy. Allen Robinson has to emerge as the go to receiver all quarterbacks need, Taylor Gabriel has to make more plays after the catch. And Anthony Miller has to be more consistent with his routes. Riley Ridley could emerge as a solid number two receiver. Other than Cody Whitehair and James Daniels swapping positions, the rest of the offensive line looks to remain the same but Bobby Massie could be replaced at right tackle is a dominant run blocking tackle emerges.
Under Chuck Pagano, the defense shouldn't change. The defensive line with Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are one of the most underrated 3-4 fronts and football and should continue to dominate. The linebackers corps remains in tact and Khalil Mack should remain a matchup nightmare and continue to open up opportunities to the rest of the defense. The secondary got some more depth at cornerback but Deon Bush has to prove he is capable of filling the void left by Adrian Amos.
There are still concerns in the kicking game as the team brought in two kickers to compete in training camp with the hope that one can make the game deciding field goals.
Looking at the team as a whole, Chicago doesn't look as scary as the 2018 squad, but should remain the front runners in the NFC North.
Best Record They Can Hole For: 10-6