Preseason Preview – Week 11 Bears

  • 2018 Record – 12-4 – 1st in NFC North – Lost in Wild Card Round
  • Key Additions – S HaHa Clinton-Dix, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, HB Mike Davis, CB Buster Skrine, OL Ted Larson
  • Key Losses – RB Jordan Howard, S Adrian Amos, CB Bryce Callahan
  • Pros – Best defense in the league in my opinion
  • Cons – Young unproven QB leading a group of unproven skill players excluding the odd veteran

Last season

Who can forget the Bears season finishing on the “double doink” in the playoffs? Kicker Cody Parkey (who had hit the upright earlier in the game with another field goal) steps up with 10 seconds on the clock and with the Score at 16-15 to Philly, only to have his kick tipped which then went on to hit the left upright and then the crossbar. Tough break for the Bears, but I’m sure once the mist clears the Bears can look back on what was a very good season, and with blockbuster trades like the move to bring in Khalil Mack and new head coach Matt Nagy (who helped turn around a 5-11 team from 2017) I’m sure the seeds of a bright future have been sown.

Coach Matt Nagy 2nd year head coach this coming season

Coaching

Head coach Matt Nagy will be going into his second season as head coach of the Bears after what was a very successful first season. Nagy came over to the Bears from the Chiefs in 2018 after five seasons in a couple of offensive roles. His last two seasons with the Chiefs saw him as co-offensive coordinator in 2016 with Brad Childress and then taking over as offensive coordinator in 2017.  At offensive coordinator, the Bears have another guy entering his second season with them, Mark Helfrich. Helfrich has 22 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and NFL level, and in 2018 he helped transform a Bears offense that went from averaging 16.5 points a game in 2017 to 26.3 a game. He’s also worked closely with QB Mitchell Trubisky in 2018 and helped have the young signal-caller named to the Pro Bowl. At defensive coordinator, the Bears were forced to make a change with Vic Fangio becoming HC of the Broncos. They managed to secure the services of former head coach of the Colts Chuck Pagano to replace him. Pagano, who spent six seasons with the Colts from 2012-17 also spent 2018 as an NFL consultant. Previous to this, Pagano had served as defensive coordinator in the NFL once before, holding the top defensive position with the Ravens in 2011.

Free Agency/Draft

Like any team in the offseason, the Bears wanted to do a good job of hanging on to their top free agents. With the success, they had in 2018 that was always going to be hard, though. The key losses they did take seemed to be on the defensive side, with the loss of S Adrian Amos to the Packers and CB Bryce Callahan to the Broncos. The Bears did look to fill those holes quickly with the signings of S HaHa Clinton-Dix and CB Buster Skrine who look to be adequate replacements. The toughest loss they may have taken in the offseason might well be the loss of their defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is one of the best in the league.

David Montgomery - RB 3rd round Draftee

On offense the trade of Jordan Howard was a little bit of a head-scratcher when I heard about it going down. The Bears shipped the pro bowl running back to the Eagles for a 6th round pick! Was it just that he was a bad scheme fit? Or did new head coach Matt Nagy just not fancy him in the backfield? Your guess is as good as mine, but I do think the Bears had their eye on a running back in the draft. Other losses on offense were OL Eric Kush who seemed to fall out of favour and WR Kevin White who has had a hard time with injuries the last few years and the Bears refused to pick up his 5th year option.  On to the draft and the running back that the Bears may have had their eye on turned out to be David Montgomery. Montgomery taken with the Bears first draft pick (which was in the third round) projects as a three-down back with elite balance. A good comparison would be Kareem Hunt who funnily enough Matt Nagy helped coach to the leading rusher title in his rookie season in 2017 with the Chiefs. With their next pick, the Bears selected WR Riley Ridley. Ridley’s a 6 foot 2 inch receiver who will give the Bears a strong presence on the outside. (Fun fact, Ridley is the younger brother of Falcons WR Calvin Ridley). With their next pick, the Bears took CB, Duke Shelley. And with their two picks in the 7th round, they picked RB Kerrith Whyte and CB Stephen Denmark respectively.

Khalil Mack back again with this dominant Bears Defense

General team

First off let me start by saying, of all the defenses I saw play last year (and I did see some good ones), none of the other defences shut down our high scoring offense down like the Bears did in our Week 14 game with them in Chicago. I think like dominant Bears teams of old (the 1985 Bears) they believe defenses win championships and at the moment they have one of the best around. By the looks of things, they haven’t lost much in the way of personnel and I expect this defensive unit to be just as strong this year coming. Also, I think the trade to bring in LB Khalil Mack was a great move, albeit at a high price. The Raiders got a lot of draft pick in order to part with their superstar defender. On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Nagy is an offensive guy who will want to see more production from his group. At QB, Mitchell Trubisky is being earmarked to have a breakout season after a year in Nagy’s system. Bears fans will be hoping for much more as the young QB continues his development. At running back, I’ve got the 3rd round pick David Montgomery pencilled in to start, but I would also expect to see Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen put up a battle in training camp. I think with the depth Chicago have at running back they will show a commitment to the running game this season so all three could share time come the start of the season.  At wide receiver, is this one of the best bunch of receivers the Bears have had in a few seasons? It could be! Lead by Allen Robinson (754 yards last season) and Anthony Miller outside (lead the team with 7 touchdowns) and Taylor Gabriel in the slot, this group will only be improved by the introduction of the elusive Cordarrelle Patterson and the rookie Riley Ridley.

All in all with that strong defense and this emerging offense under Matt Nagy I see the Bears winning their division again and secure another playoff spot this season coming. Again, just my two cents folks and as always thanks for taking the time to read.