Any one who follows the Bears knows that there is renewed sense of interest this year. The team is loaded with talent. Here are some at the head of the class:
Mitchell Trubisky is a talented quarterback who was drafted in the first round in 2017. The Bears had planned to move Trubisky along slowly, but he had to step in on the firing line last year. At that time, he was new to the existing program and was part of a conservative offense. With the changes in the Chicago Bears’ coaches from 2017, Matt Nagy and the rest of the staff sees Trubisky role as not only critical, but central to the success of the team. Despite the importance of the running game and the Bears having talented running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, Nagy’s dynamic offense requires Trubisky to be himself and to be his best on the field regardless of just how the well the defense plays. Trubisky performance from game to game has varied greatly with ratings bottoming out at 61.9 against the Vikings on November 18th and soaring to 154.6 against Tampa Bay on September 30. Improvements require patience from the coaches who must maintain a course of better and better performance and Trubisky continuing to find his own game and confidence.
Jordan Howard is a remarkable running back–gaining well over 1000 yards rushing his first two years. Some people want to suggest Howard is on the chopping block, but I am not buying into that notion. Bears coaches are aware of just what kind of contribution Howard can make. But the challenge this year is understanding the best way to get all of the Bears offensive talent into the game including a pretty well stocked receiver corps. I think it’s important for fans to keep in mind how often there are injuries that take place among leading backs. Howard is needed and his loss would be felt.
Howard holds the rushing record for his rookie season by amassing 1,313 yards in 2016. He was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie as well–a feat that matched a phenomenal back named Gale Sayers. Howard appears to be a sturdy powerful back and by having two excellent backs the Bears increase the chances of moving into the playoffs and maintaining a high quality attack.
Tarik Cohen is another Bear who gets national attention and for good reason. He is an exceptional rusher, a receiver, and a punt/kick returner. He is 5-foot-six, 180 pounds of pure muscle who on the field is a raging nightmare for opposing defenses. Cohen plays well when the line provides a hole and his patterns get him out in the open, but he also plays well when things break down on the line or when he is often selected for a short pass when Trubisky finds other options wanting. Cohen skillset is perfect for Nagy’s offense. But again, the idea of trading Howard is not forward thinking in my opinion.
Trey Burton added instant credibility to the Bears passing game. As a Bear, Burton has exceeded his best year’s reception total and receiving yards while on the Eagles. He has had 4 games where he hasn’t missed a ball. Burton’s off-field efforts to fight injustice has not gone unnoticed, he has been nominated as the Bears candidate for 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year. Burton has seen a little less of the ball when Trubisky is out and I see his numbers picking up now.
Taylor Gabriel, a 5-year NFL veteran who has not disappointed in his first year with the Bears. Taylor sees the ball a lot for the Bears, he already has 54 receptions for 544 yards. He is speedy and is often moving in motion to create some problems for the defense. He can go downfield for the long pass and outrun defenders or play the screen with confidence. He is one of Trubishy’s favorite receivers. Gabriel is an excellent weapon for the offense and is another player who brings the attack to whole new level.
Allen Robinson is 6-foot-3 wide receiver who can make the incredible catches that help quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and his entire offensive team feel better about themselves. Coming back from injury in 2017 when he played for the Jaguars, Robinson is getting better every week. He is a key component of the Bears offensive squad and is a standout talent that other teams need to worry about each week they face Chicago. He is a very important go-to guy in clutch situations.
Roquan Smith is one of the best young linebackers in football. In his rookie season he already has 92 tackles, 69 solo tackles and 4 sacks. And that’s after he held out all camp and was injured in the early part of the season. But for defensive players, often watching the film clips you can see the effort and smarts Smith uses during the games. As a speedy inside linebacker, he can hide at times behind the line play and sneak in to fill holes. He can run down wide receivers and tight ends even when the opposing team has called the perfect play based on the Bears’ formation. He is superman around the play.
Khalil Mack is one of the best players in pro football. As an outside linebacker Mack is a play-wrecker and wreaks havoc all over the field. His strength is legendary and once he gets by blockers he is using his hands to not only sack or tackle, but strip the ball if possible. Much has been said about his trade to the Bears after 4 stellar seasons with the Raiders, but my sense is that it was a good move for both clubs. The Raiders have a lot of rebuilding to do and the Mack trade will speed that up for them because of the picks they received from the Bears. The Bears were looking for the services of a couple defensive stars who could help return the defense to the “Monsters of the Midway.” Mack has 6 forced fumbles and 33 tackles.
Danny Trevathan is a 7-year veteran who always seems to be right in the middle of the action. He has 85 tackles and 2 sacks. Trevathan is intelligent and he has speed and power. Many suggest that Trevathan is helping the young players learn the ropes.
Eddie Jackson in his second year with the Bears has 4 interceptions and is leading Pro-Bowl votion for his position. He has returned 2 interceptions and one fumble for touchdowns this season. His play has not only helped strengthen the defense, but his game changing performances has helped motivate the Bears.
Prince Amukamara is in his 8th season as cornerback and playing his second for the Bears. He has 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 51 tackles. Amukamara was a great acquisition for the Bears.
Kyle Fuller in his fourth year at cornerback for the Bears, he already has surpassed past seasons with 6 interceptions–just the kind of turnovers the Bears were looking for this season. Fuller has three brothers with professional football experience and in order to see Fuller return in navy blue and burnt orange this year, the Bears matched an offer that Green Bay made. Fuller has 44 tackles this season.
Akiem Hicks is the Bears 6-foot-5, 332 pound defensive tackle who was has been harassing quarterback and running backs all season. In the Bears losing battle with the Giants, with Hicks on offense, he took the handoff from QB Chase Daniel and like the “Fridge” ran in to score from a yard out.