The Chicago Bears' offense is expected to go through a retooling phase this year. They lack a true top wide receiver, and their quarterback situation for the season is a huge unknown. They have some pieces to be excited about - Jordan Howard and the interior offensive line come to mind - but they aren't quite there yet.
Granted, this is to be expected. They're still in a rebuilding phase, so it will take some time before their offense is on par with the league's best. Nevertheless, there is still a bit to be excited about the Bears' offense this year. Here are five optimistic predictions for how the unit will do, followed by the likeliness of each prediction happening.
Jordan Howard leads the NFL in rushing yards
A lot of people that aren't Bears fans tend to forget that Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing yards. The player who finished first? Ezekiel Elliott, who will likely be missing the first six games of the year.
Howard played most of last year with a banged up interior offensive line. Kyle Long missed half of the year with tricep and ankle injuries, in addition to playing all of his games with a torn labrum. Josh Sitton missed three games with an ankle injury, and played through a few games with a shoulder injury. Now that both of those linemen - who are two of the best offensive guards in the league - are healthy, Howard could be in for a big year.
He does face a lot of stiff competition, though. The main competitor will likely be Le’Veon Bell, who managed to place fifth in the league in rushing yards despite only playing in 12 games. David Johnson will also be gunning for that top spot, as well. Howard’s winning would also rely on his avoiding a “sophomore slump”. The odds seem to be against him to lead the league in rushing, but finishing in the top five again isn’t out of the question.
Cameron Meredith racks up over 1,000 yards receiving
Around this time a year ago, Cameron Meredith was fighting for a roster spot. Now, he's the Bears' top wide receiver.
He broke out last season with 66 receptions, 888 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Those stats are made even more impressive by the fact that he only played 14 games, starting in 10 of them. Given that he won't have to fight for touches with Alshon Jeffery this year, those numbers can (and likely will) increase.
The following receivers were among those that had over 1,000 yards last season: Tyrell Williams, Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace and Kenny Britt. Even players like Adam Thielen and Rishard Matthews came close to that total. It wouldn't be farfetched to say that Meredith is better than most, if not all of those players. Factoring in no Jeffery, a full season as starter and another offseason to improve, the odds are in his favor to top 1,000 yards this year, barring injury.
Dion Sims leads the team in receiving touchdowns
I originally had Adam Shaheen in this slot, but I realized that that was just a bit too bold, even for this list. Instead, it will be another new tight end who I think will lead the Bears in receiving touchdowns.
Dion Sims had four touchdowns last year in Miami, which would've been enough to place him in a three-way tie on the Bears. He will likely see most of the snaps at tight end this year, which will give him a lot of opportunities to score. Mike Glennon appears to have chemistry with him, which will bode well for him in the early going.
The tight end position has played a sizable role in the Bears' passing game over the last few years. This could be the year Sims sheds his label as a blocking-first tight end.
Mitch Trubisky becomes the starter by Week 3
Mike Glennon was dreadful in his first game in a Chicago Bears uniform. Mitch Trubisky, however, was not.
Head coach John Fox maintained his belief that each quarterback's performance would not cause a change in the depth chart right away. It would be asinine of them, though, to keep the rookie at third string for more than another game. In fact, I wouldn't be opposed to having Trubisky start in the final preseason game to give him some time to work with the first team in a game situation.
If he duplicates (or at least comes close to) his performance last week again tonight, then the Bears would be wise at least consider starting him early on this year. He will likely start at some point in the season, but only time will tell when that will be.
Kevin White stays relatively healthy and has a solid year
Kevin White has been plagued by injuries so far in his short career. He is going to have to stay healthy this year if he wants his fifth-year option exercised next offseason. Granted, you can't control injuries, but his inability to stay on the field has made many start to place the "bust" label on him.
White has stated that he isn't worried about his injury history, and that he is looking forward to proving the doubters wrong. If he manages to stay relatively healthy, then don't expect him to become a No. 1 wide receiver right away. Instead, expect him to put up decent enough numbers while showing his potential in flashes.