Back in 2017, it was apparent that the Chicago Bears needed much talent and more solid coaching. But when 2018 came around, things looked much improved, but it was a year where the team’s record was a bit of a fooler. A 12-4 team and an NFC North title was certainly great to have in the bank, but was the team the whole package that could have won a Super Bowl? The double doink loss to the Eagles was a bit of a wake-up call, but the 2019 season showed that the Bears still had a ways to go. Sure there are off-years, and sometimes, very rarely, a team will go on to win the Super Bowl when they are a few better teams in the league. But generally, a team has to have it all together and the Bears had some weaknesses.
How did the 2018 Bears get so far? Well, they had very few injuries. Their defense was awesome and teams were not well prepared to stop it. And their offense did not self-destruct. But overall, they went into the playoffs and the best teams in the NFL were up to the task of beating them.
In 2019, the Bears had many more injuries, other teams were better prepared to face them, and other teams spent more time on plans that would take advantage of the team’s weaknesses. I can just imagine the best teams spending time in the offseason looking at Bears games with more interest than previous years. The Bears had become a team the big guns would have to beat in 2019.
The Bears offensive line is perhaps the biggest challenge for next year. And that line creates a lot of problems for the entire team. Trubisky was gaining experience this year and his numbers were off from last year, but the offensive line can make a big difference in a quarterback’s performance. The straight-ahead power runs of Jordan Howard and the ever-present presence of Tarik Cohen were close to magic in 2018. Many Bears fans are very pleased with the talent and tenacity of David Montgomery in 2019, but again when the offensive line is struggling the running backs are typically not at their best.
Tight end talent and injuries were another big problem in 2019. The yardage gained by the Bears tight ends in 2019 was almost negligible. That’s a pretty tough drought to overcome on an offense that is schemed to use the tight end continually. The Bears seemed to scramble to find a few players who could fill the bill, but it was often under tough circumstances. A handful of tosses and few drops seemed to be enough to bring the next target into the lineup. The old “not-for-long” NFL moniker seemed to suggest little patience with the tight ends. But the team no doubt will be looking for more candidates.
The Bears receiving corp seems to get high marks from some local analysts, but my sense is that that Trubisky needs more targets. The talent pool for wide receivers is just not comparable with the best teams. New Orleans, San Francisco, Kansas City, and the Patriots all have over 4000 yards receiving this year. The Bears have 3573. The Packers also break the 4000 plane for passing. The Ravens have about 3300 yards in both passing and rushing.
In some cases the QB can make up for weaknesses, but it’s tough to plan on those things. Lamar Jackson of the Ravens has rushed for over 1200 yards. Drew Brees has a couple receivers with outstanding stats. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has 1725 receiving yards and tight end Jared Cook has over 700 yards.
But the Bears with Nagy and crew have some great things going for them.
The offense is not predictable and will likely get a lot less predictable. There have been some setbacks this year, but as the team improves, more of Nagy’s wrinkles will be put into the game plans.
Bears fans that have followed the Bears over the years recognize great talent in their quarterback. There isn’t a pass he can’t throw or a play he can’t make.
Bears have a great defensive corps. A few new acquisitions in the offseason and the monsters will be back in 2020.
The Bears are focused on adding good people as coaches and players.
The Bears owners are willing to invest.
The Bears players are very hungry.