Last season the Bears’ offense finished 21st in yards and 23rd in points. The defense was 14th in yards allowed and 20th in points allowed.
The Bears finished last place in their division with a 6-10 overall record. The team has spent this offseason continuing what the regime has termed a “quick rebuild.”
The Bears have added many components, especially to Vic Fangio’s defense, while also re-tooling their offense, especially along the line.
As a happy coincidence, the offense also returns last year’s first round pick, wide receiver Kevin White.
The pieces then, appear to be in place for the Bears to make a jump forward in the standings this year.
Of course much of that is dependent on health, but the two units are set up for an improvement in the standings. But which unit will jump more?
On defense the team has added players to replace less-talented ones. In comes Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd.
Another year in the same scheme will undoubtedly help players such as Kyle Fuller, Willie Young, Adrian Amos and Lamarr Houston.
Their revamped front seven should see their sack numbers increase and if Fuller can regain some confidence and Tracy Porter can stay healthy and at his 2015 level, the Bears defense legitimately could find themselves in the top ten in terms of yards and points allowed.
On the other side of the ball, the team has made some changes that include addition, but they have also lost productive players, unlike the defense.
Matt Forte, Matt Slauson and Martellus Bennett are gone and there are concerns about their replacements. Jeremy Langford showed promise, second round pick Cody Whitehair could be a plug-and-player starter but questions abound.
Perhaps the biggest loss was in offensive coordinator Adam Gase. There’s no doubt that continuity will be close with the promotion of Dowell Loggains, but it’s still a concern.
Gase had a proven track record as a playcaller and coordinator. Loggains has done well as a position coach but with only one year coordinating an offense, there’s no guarantee he can lead the unit.
All that aside though, the Bears do have the making of a solid offensive unit. Last season, even as everything around came unglued, Jay Cutler had his most productive season as a Bear.
The formula for that won’t change. The changes around the quarterback aren’t enough for him to revert to the bad habits that held him back in previous years.
The offensive line should be better, allowing the running backs to each play to their strengths and assert a dominant committee. The receivers, now all healthy, have a diverse skill set that will allow them to power through DBs, run past them or get physical and bring down contested passes.
The offense at this point might not be built to be the highest scoring unit in the league, but that hasn’t even been coach John Fox’s M.O. either.
The offense certainly has the pieces to be, with good health, a top-12 unit, maybe even higher in terms of yards.
Special teams should also improve given the moves the team has made for that unit as well, but that unit really had no where to go but up. For this, it’s only about the offense and defense.
Improvement is going to be the keyword of 2016. Fans expect to see it both in terms of on-field execution, statistics and in the standings.
Which unit will improve the most this year? How many places can they jump?