2018 looked to be a changing of the guard in the NFC North. The arrival of Khalil Mack had shifted the Chicago Bears’ fate and lifted a team that previously lived at the bottom of the standings to the playoffs. A struggling young quarterback had a few flashy games, a rookie head coach looked like he was on his way to becoming the best in the business.
We are now over 18 months removed from the 2018 Bears playoff run ending with a potential game-winning field goal bouncing off the post at Soldier Field. While Bears fans must have been disappointed with that outcome, they were certainly excited about the future walking out of that stadium. It looked like the Bears could be contenders for a long time.
Now, the hope in that team is all but gone. The young quarterback is almost certainly a bust, and the head coach is on the hot seat. Chicago seems to be trying to force their window back open, making ill-advised moves this offseason that will hurt them going forward.
What is the plan here?
The NFL season is almost upon us! Over the next few weeks I will be previewing each of the 32 NFL teams, and ranking them 1-32 as to how likely I believe they are to win Super Bowl LV. This week we are starting at the bottom.
29. Chicago Bears
Chicago seemed to go into panic mode this offseason. 2019 was an extreme disappointment for the team. They went 8-8, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky proved to be nowhere near the franchise quarterback they expected him to be when they drafted him second overall in 2017. The historically-great defense took a huge step back as well.
The first panicked move the team made was trading for quarterback Nick Foles. The veteran played so poorly for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season that he was benched for an unproven sixth-round rookie despite the huge deal he signed with them in the offseason for $88 million.
Chicago seemed to have a sudden obsession with the tight end position as well. They inked Jimmy Graham—a player years past his prime—to a two-year deal worth $16 million. At one point they had 10 tight ends on the roster, and then they decided to spend the first pick they had in the 2020 NFL draft on tight end Cole Kmet. For all of the investment and attention they have put into the position, it still is not very good.
“Not very good” is a theme for their offense as a whole. I am not sure how they plan on scoring points this year. Neither Trubisky nor Foles look capable of running an NFL offense at the moment. The receiving corps is set to run with Allen Robinson (good player), Ted Ginn Jr. (can’t catch), Cordarrelle Patterson (a running back) and Riley Ridley (no, it’s his brother you’re thinking about). The offensive line struggled mightily last year as well and did absolutely no favors for their young quarterback.
The defense gives fans something to look forward, but it is not quite the lock to be great that many think. Their secondary is going to be entirely relying on Eddie Jackson, as cornerback Kyle Fuller took a big step back last season, and fellow starting corner Jaylon Johnson is a rookie who may need time to be ready.
The front seven may be great, though, and that could be enough to win them some games this season. Khalil Mack is still an all-time great. Akiem Hicks should return after an injury hampered 2019. Robert Quinn showed that he still has a lot of gas left in the tank when he was with the Dallas Cowboys last year, and he gives the team a great second pass rusher. While young linebacker Roquan Smith struggled in Year 2, he has played well when he gets to be alongside Danny Trevathan.
Chicago will be putting the weight of their franchise on the front seven and Jackson. There is nowhere else on the team you can really trust to play well in 2020, meaning they are going to have to win games by grinding them to a halt.
The Bears have fallen far from their Super Bowl contention status in 2018 and seem to lack a real plan for the future. 2020 might be just the start of another rough era of football in the Windy City.