Chicago Bears 2019 Season Preview
By Alex Williams
The Chicago Bears went from a five win team in 2017, to a 12 win team in 2018. This was in large part down to the monster trade of Khalil Mack, the final piece in a defense that propelled itself to the leagues best. The 2018 defense was all it was billed to be, the offense however was not. Trubisky stuttered his way through his second season in the NFL, while still adjusting to Matt Nagy’s new offense. Ultimately, a Cody Parkey field goal miss prematurely ended the Bears Super Bowl hopes. However, enough has been written on that particular subject. All there is to add is that Parkey is no longer on the roster.
It was a quiet off-season for the Bears, who only drafted their first player in round three. David Montgomery was that pick, and he will be asked to contribute in Nagy’s “running back by committee” following Jordan Howard being traded to the Eagles.
The Bears lost safety Adrian Amos in free agency to Green Bay, but signed former Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a $3.5 million “prove it” contract. The biggest off-season loss was at the cornerback position. Slot corner Bryce Callahan signed for former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver. His replacement, Buster Skrine, is by far less talented and the wrong side of 30.
After a full season, with plenty of growing pains in Matt Nagy’s offense, 2019 needs to be the year Mitch Trubisky fulfils his potential. His sophomore year showed signs of improvement, with his ability to move the pocket and extend plays with his legs. He rushed for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2018, which is a solid contribution. Going forward, Trubisky needs to improve his deep ball accuracy; on too many occasions last year he and his receivers were out of sync. But, the potential is there in this offense, with talented players such as Allen Robinson and Trey Burton. Trubisky just needs to bring it all together.
Tarik Cohen showed flashes in Nagy’s offense in 2018, and he’ll continue to be the third-down back with Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery sharing catches and carries. With the defense all set-up for a serious play-off push, a lot falls on this offense to do enough to get them there.
The 2018 version was outstanding. The only question is if the 2019 Bears can be just as good. Or even better? 50 sacks in 2018 ranked third in the NFL, while their 27 interceptions led the league by a fair margin. Chuck Pagano replaces Vic Fangio as the defensive coordinator for this season. Pagano is known as a more aggressive play-caller, so expect to see Mack used to his fullest potential. Upfront, the Bears have not just run stuffers, but explosive pass rushers in Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols. If the secondary can hold up offenses will find it just as hard to put up points as it did in 2018 (League low of 17.7 points per game).
Skrine and Clinton-Dix are certainly downgrades on Callahan and Amos, but there’s enough talent on defense that the drop-off won’t be too substantial.
The Bears will be setting their sights higher than just the playoffs. Cody Parkey took much of the blame for 2018 failure, but the offense was ultimately not good enough in the playoffs. That has to change in 2019. Nagy has to get Trubisky et al. ticking to give this once in a generation talented defense its shot at a Super Bowl.
On a side note, there’s been a lot of talk of this defense being compared to the 85′ Bears. That might be a stretch too far, but Khalil Mack will be setting his sights on Richard Dent’s franchise record for season sacks of 17.5.
Record Prediction: 12-4
Image Credit: USA Today