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Will any Chicago Bears help define the NFL’s 2018 season?

ESPN recently looked at the 99 NFL players, coaches and themes that will define 2018, and would you believe the Chicago Bears garnered a mention?

Photo by: Serena Vitellaro Photography

When the book closes on the NFL’s 2018 season, how much of an impact will the Chicago Bears have had on that story? I think a lot of our fan-base is very optimistic about what new head coach Matt Nagy can bring to the team, but what constitutes a successful season?

I know I’m optimistic, but I’m also realistic. If the Bears are still in the playoff hunt with a quarter of the season remaining, I’d be fine with that. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see them in the postseason, but coming off a fourth consecutive sub .500 season, I’d call that progress.

ESPN recently ran down The 99 NFL players, coaches and themes that will define 2018, and I was surprised the Bears garnered a mention. I was really surprised when a second Bear was listed. They I got to another, and another, and when was the last time the Bears had four mentions on their annual list?

The first category a with a Bears’layer was, “Young quarterbacks who could make a jump,” and I think we all know who that is.

21. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: Chicago asked very little of Trubisky when it gave him the starting QB job midway through last season. With Matt Nagy installing a new offense, Trubisky will be asked to make more throws, take more risks and shoulder more responsibility. There are likely to be growing pains, but by season’s end, we should have a much better sense of his future NFL prospects.

I can’t think of a young quarterback that received more support in one offseason than Trubisky did. The head coach, offensive assistants, free agency, and draft picks all were added to build up the quarterback. General manager Ryan Pace truly believes that Trubisky is the man, and he went out and doubled down on that belief by making sweeping changes to the offense.

“Players who could break out,” was the next category and one of the Bears’ newcomers made the cut.

25. Trey Burton, TE, Bears: Chicago didn’t give him $18 million guaranteed to come in and play the same bit role he had in Philadelphia. Expect Burton to be a big part of Nagy’s revamped passing attack. Scouts have long believed Burton has the ability to handle a larger role. We’re about to find out if they’re right.

Nagy already said that Burton will play the U tight end spot, which is what Travis Kelce played in the Chiefs offense. Burton may not be the first receiving option for the Bears, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to shine.

The Bears took the sixth wide receiver drafted, but their guy is the only wide out listed with the, “rookies with the most fantasy potential.”

31. Anthony Miller, WR, Bears: Well, it couldn’t be all RBs, right? This year’s rookie WR class doesn’t seem to have a lot of instant-impact stars, but there’ll be opportunity (there’s that word again) in Chicago, where Miller steps in as one of the more polished rookie receivers. Don’t be surprised if he gets a high volume of targets right away, even if Allen Robinson is the nominal No. 1.

Miller has the potential to be a special player for the Bears. He can play outside or in the slot, and he plays much bigger than the 5’11” that he’s listed at. Miller will be a battle for targets however, especially if the next guy on this list is finally healthy and ready to live up to his potential.

67. Kevin White, WR, Bears: The seventh player selected in the 2015 draft has appeared in five games through three seasons.

White was listed with the. “veteran non-QBs who need to prove it,” and so far he’s proving to his coaches and teammates that he may be a difference maker in 2018. He was a 4.35 guy at the combine, and reports have his speed showing up during OTAs. Maybe the season with no leg injuries was what he needed to get that speed back.

So far he’s been putting in the extra work to improve his craft and it’s something his head coach has noticed. “He’s dedicated. He wants to be really good wide receiver.” head coach Matt Nagy said via NBC Chicago. “When you have somebody that has that want, we as coaches need to give him every opportunity to succeed.”

If all four of these players maximize their potential the Bears may be doing more than getting in the hunt for a playoff spot, they’ll may actually make the playoffs.