The Chicago Bears had one of the biggest roster turnarounds in the league this offseason. Gone are the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Tracy Porter. Players like Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Quintin Demps, Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper now make up Chicago’s new-look roster.
The Bears did a good job of addressing a lot of their needs this offseason. However, only a select few of those needs have actually been completely fixed. They have many talented players on the roster, but only so many starting spots. Let's take a look at some of the Bears’ biggest positional battles, and who will win each one.
Just to clarify: the starting quarterback position is not a battle. Mike Glennon has the starting spot on lock to start the 2017 season.
Eddie Jackson vs. Adrian Amos
Adrian Amos had a solid rookie season, but failed to improve in his sophomore year. In fact, many would say that his play declined in 2016. He blew his assignment many times last year, and he failed to improve his poor ball skills. Given that Amos has had zero interceptions in his first two years, it makes sense that the Bears brought in Eddie Jackson, who had six interceptions in 2015.
An injury-plagued 2016 season caused Jackson to fall down draft boards to the point that he fell into Chicago’s lap in the fourth round. It may take him a while to fully recover from his injury, though. With that in mind, it's unlikely that he will dethrone Amos right away. Don't be surprised, however, if Jackson becomes the team’s starting free safety by the end of the year.
Winner: Adrian Amos
Zach Miller vs. Dion Sims vs. Adam Shaheen
Zach Miller played a big role in the Bears’ offense last year. Before going down with a season-ending injury in Week 10, he had 47 receptions, 486 receiving yards and four touchdowns. In the nine full games he played in, he was on the field for 87.6 percent of Chicago’s offensive snaps. However, don't expect that number to be so high this year.
Miller didn't have much in the competition last year, whereas now he has two young tight ends nipping at his heels. Dion Sims played an important role with the Miami Dolphins last year: he was on the field for 73.95 percent of their offensive snaps. And while Adam Shaheen likely won't start right away, he appears to be the heir apparent to the Bears’ tight end position. Considering how much they need help in the passing game, Miller is likely their best bet to start for now. Expect Sims to get a lot of playing time in sub packages, though.
Winner: Zach Miller
Connor Barth vs. Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips is a favorite among many Bears fans to become the team’s kicker of the future. The move makes sense to some degree. Connor Barth is up there in age and is coming off of a poor 2016 season. However, is it really all that likely that Phillips becomes the team’s starting kicker?
Phillips was 26th in Division I football with an 84 percent field goal percentage. While that isn't bad, it isn't scream “stand-out kicker” by any means. Plus, he's already 28 years old! That's only three years younger than Barth, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL this year. The Bears do need a long-term kicker, and Phillips will certainly give Barth a run for his money, but expect the latter to stay on for another year.
Winner: Connor Barth