Breaking down the 2020 Chicago Bears
|Saturday, August 8, 2020, 10:59 AM- -|
Typically, we would be at the point of the NFL season, where teams would be preparing for their first preseason game. After the NFL decided to cancel all preseason games in 2020 due to COVID 19 concerns, training camp will look much different this season as teams try to prepare for 2020.
For the Bears, this was expected to be a critical training camp as I view this as a make or break year for a lot of players. You have a head coach in Matt Nagy, who is still looking for the offensive magic Chicago brought him in for. A defensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano looking for more consistency and a plethora of players who haven't lived up to the hype that need to produce now more than ever.
No player in the organization is under more pressure this season than quarterback Mitch Trubisky. After declining to pick up his fifth-year option, the writing was on the wall for his future as it is now or never for the former No. 2 pick. To make things more complicated, veteran Nick Foles comes in to compete for the starting job. Despite the shortened offseason and a virtual training camp to start, it shouldn't hurt the quarterback battle as Nagy has openly admitted there will be a competition. Let's see if Trubisky can reach a level that Foles has played in the past.
The running back duo of David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen disappointed last year, but Montgomery emerged as the starter. Although he doesn't get tons of yards after contact, he was running with more confidence last season and should get plenty of touches in 2020. Helping to transform this offense will be a group of receivers that may not be all pros and could provide a balanced attack.
Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are the clear No. 1 and No. 2 on this team, but everything else is up in the air after that. Guys like Riley Ridley, Javon Wims, and Cordarrelle Patterson will be looking for more touches but expect offseason pickup Ted Ginn Jr. to have the early advantage at the No. 3 spot giving the Bears a legitimate deep threat option.
Along with the receiver group comes the tight end position, which will be the most difficult to sort through. Jimmy Graham will start to open the season but look for rookie Cole Kmet to see plenty of snaps as he could eventually dethrone Graham. Given the versatility of both players, Chicago may elect to go with more two tight end sets over additional receivers in hopes of creating matchup problems.
Although health was not on the Bears side on the offensive line, that unit managed to stay together the final 10 weeks of the season, given the Bears continuity upfront. The problem was that continuity didn't translate to much success as they certainly struggled last year. Look for tackles Bobbie Massie and Charles Leno JR to have bounce-back seasons with Germain Ifedi to emerge as one of the biggest steals of the 2020 FA class. James Daniels and Cody Whitehair will also be back as the Bears are in a good position up front.
As always, the Bears will only go as far as their defense can take them, which should be good once again. Losing Eddie Goldman upfront as he chose to opt out this season will be a huge hole to fill, but a healthy Akiem Hicks will go a long way to replace that void. Once again, the backbone of this Bears defense will fall on the hands of the linebacker group.
On the inside, you have the veteran Danny Trevathan, who recently signed a new contract extension along with side tackle machine Roquan Smith. Both are going to be counted on heavily in 2020. Looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 will be Khalil Mack as he has a new running mate on the outside with him. That man is free-agent pickup Robert Quinn who takes over for Leonard Floyd. Quinn has posted better sack numbers than Floyd in recent seasons, and playing with Mack may allow him to have a breakout season this year.
When the Bears are at their best, it is because their defense is forcing turnovers at a record rate. That wasn't the case last season as the Bears need to get back to that level. Eddie Jackson and CB Kyle Fuller return as the secondary leaders looking to become playmakers once again. With Prince Amukamara no longer on the team, Chicago elected to draft Jaylon Johnson in the second round as there won't be much competition for him to lock down the No. 2 corner spot.
Former Steeler Artie Burns could challenge for snaps, but after Tre Roberson was released with an injury, the No. 2 cornerback spot is Johnson's to lose. Buster Skrine was undervalued last season and will once again lineup at the nickel cornerback position. Skrine will oversee guarding the slot receivers or matching up with players in different offensive positions.
Prediction: Chicago is a deep team that is teetering on either contender or rebuild. On one end, they have all the talent in the world and have shown how good they can be if their defense plays up to their ability.
On the other hand, you have an underachieving quarterback with several other players who have not performed well enough to put the Bears in playoff contention consistently. To me, this is a make or break year for the Bears as they look to become a contender again. Should they make the postseason or come close, don't expect much to change next year. However, another down season could result in lost jobs as the Bears will be entering a rebuild in 2021. I am looking at a 9-win season with the potential to pick up 10 as Chicago should be contending for the final playoff spot this season.