The Chicago Bears’ offseason moves continually get trashed by the media. Many predict bad things to happen in the 2020 season. Is that fair, however?
The Chicago Bears just can’t get any love for their offseason moves. Just about every move general manager Ryan Pace made was roundly criticized.
Pace made several moves to try to improve the roster. With every move, however, negative reviews keep coming.
Media from around the league have predictions of doom for the Chicago Bears. ESPN said that they had the second-worst offseason. USA Today Sports predicts a 3-13 season. The Draft Network predicts a last-place finish for the Bears in an NFC North where they say anyone but the Bears can win it. CBS Sports has them at rock bottom.
Look, the Bears likely don’t finish 15-1 and play in the Super Bowl, but 3-13? They have an elite defense and adding linebacker Robert Quinn to play opposite of Khalil Mack improves their pass rush. Additionally, they signed Tashaun Gibson. Here’s an interesting fact: only two safeties allowed a completion rate of 55 percent or less. One was Eddie Jackson. Who was the other? Gibson was the other.
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The defense ranked fourth in points allowed in 2019 despite not having Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan for most of the season. They are now healthy and that bodes well for the unit to reach number one like it was in 2018. This defense by itself can win more than three games for the Bears.
On offense, things aren’t so bright. We still don’t know who starts at quarterback. Whoever starts, we know that the competition should help Mitch Trubsisky. He’s struggled over his time in Chicago but he now has real competition. Nick Foles, who knows the system well, will push Trubisky. If Trubisky wins the job, that means he’s playing better than he has up to now. If he doesn’t, the Bears still have a player in Foles who can run the offense well.
Then there is cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Before the draft, scouts pegged him as a first-round pick. Suddenly, teams felt his injury history was a concern. He dropped to the Bears at number 50 and now they have a very good cornerback feeling snubbed.
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The offense is still a concern
The offensive line has taken a beating after last season. Keep this in mind, however. The right side of the line went down because of injuries. Right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Bobby Massie missed a combined 18 games in 2019. Long ended up retiring.
The Bears added former Green Bay Packers second-round pick Jason Spriggs and former New Orleans Saints first-round pick Germain Ifedi. Some say Ifedi struggled, and he did, especially with penalties, but that was at right tackle. In Chicago, he’ll be a guard. He played there in his rookie season in 2016 and played well.
For now, Spriggs is an insurance policy just in case a tackle gets hurt or struggles. Eventually, though, he could be the starter. He is still young at 26 and the Bears can save $8 million from cutting either Massie or Charles Leno Jr.
Furthermore, center Cody Whitehair and guard James Daniels were inexplicably switched and the move didn’t work. The coaches switched them back during the season and both performed much better. Having them in their more comfortable positions helps boost the performance of the line.
With an improved line, running back David Montgomery can see holes along the entire line instead of just the left side. He is shifty and finished in the top-ten in broken tackles so if he finds more holes he’ll make a big impact in 2020.
Elsewhere, the Bears signed tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year, $16 million deal, but guaranteed $9 million. He can do a good job in one year, and he’ll have another job in 2020 — helping rookie tight end Cole Kmet so he could start in 2021. Throw in Demetrius Harris and this tight end unit is a step up from last season when they racked up 395 yards and 2 touchdowns. Graham by himself had 447 yards and 3 touchdowns while Harris, in a backup role, recorded 3 touchdowns.
As I mentioned, this isn’t a Super Bowl contending team. This isn’t a laughingstock either, though. Once again, it’ll languish somewhere in the middle. A record of 9-7 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. They could compete for a playoff spot and make an early exit. For what they have that is a good season.