All this offseason love being showered on the Chicago Bears is tipping the scales too far towards the optimistic and that has to be pissing off the usual doom and gloom suspects in the Chicago media. No need to mention them by name, but if you frequent Chicago sports radio or the newspapers, you know who I’m talking about.
I’d imagine there are also a few of our loyal and frequent commentators that are bothered by the praise too. I can already picture some comments to this latest glass half-full article I’m spotlighting...
‘Great, but let’s see them on the field.’
‘All this happy BS is getting out of hand, these guys haven’t done anything yet!’
‘Playoffs? This group hasn’t even won one game together!’
And my personal favorite...
‘Let’s all just temper our excitement for a bit.’
To those of you that are sick of the positively spun articles, I have a question for you.
Did you like it better when all we talked about was how bad this team was, or how bad the “experts” predicted this team to be?
I remember how depressing it was around here when publications predicted the Bears to come in last in the NFC North. Or predicted that they’ll have a top five draft pick. Or have the worst record in the NFL. Or have one of the worst rosters in the league.
Talking about that stuff sucked.
The optimistic stuff is much more fun to write about (and share), and the latest is from Pro Football Focus, who just last week talked up the Bears as a dark horse candidate in the NFC playoff picture.
They have three reasons the Bears should be taken seriously this year. The Matt Nagy effect, the receiving turnover, and an underrated defense.
Before I get into a little bit of what PFF wrote, check out this tweet from The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin, who did a little research on Sharp Football Stats.
That’s just a little taste about what we could still be talking about if John Fox and company were still running the show.
Matt Nagy is bringing a modern offense to the Bears, but he’s also bring an adaptable philosophy with him. He was also hired to get the best out of second year quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. “There’s no guarantee that Chicago can see a Sean McVay-esque turnaround with Nagy and Trubisky, but it’s not unreasonable to see the parallels.”
Last year, Trubisky was like a kid along for the ride, but this year Nagy will allow his quarterback to quarterback the offense. He’ll still be aided by a talented running attack, but the new receiving options will allow him to thrive.
This season, the Bears top four options will all be new(ish) faces. Splash free agent signing Allen Robinson is their new No. 1 receiver. Injury-riddled former top-10 pick Kevin White is finally (knock on wood) healthy and will be slotted as their No. 2. Second-round pick Anthony Miller is set to man the slot, and free-agent signing Trey Burton should be their primary option at tight end.
Here’s another publication that is touting Kevin White as the number two. I really hope White can live up to the draft day hype, but the Bears may have added all the new faces so they were prepared to play without him again. Taylor Gabriel was brought inbrought in to play the all important Zebra position in Nagy’s offense, so we’ll have to wait for that first unofficial depth chart to see what the plans are with the receiving corps.
The Bears defense didn't allow many yards after contact last season! pic.twitter.com/7hirvqw0e6— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 2, 2018
The Bears added one of the best defensive players in the country to what was already a decent defense. Rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith makes this team better. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio now has two inside backers, Smith and Danny Trevathan, that will allow him to do some of the stuff he did in San Francisco.
The lynchpin to the defense though could be its newest member. If you’ll think back to Fangio’s time with San Francisco, Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis were the superstars in the middle. Fangio’s zone coverages took advantage of their range in the middle of the field.
The Bears defensive coordinator just so happens to have found another linebacker with Willis’ traits. Roquan Smith was PFF’s highest graded off-ball linebacker in college football a season ago and the seventh-ranked player on our big board.
General manager Ryan Pace didn’t add any high profile free agents, but re-signing corners Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan will help the secondary out.
Taking a flier on Aaron Lynch, and reuniting him with his former coach Fangio, could prove to be a key addition when all is said and done.
I’m not sure if this team is going to sneak into the playoffs or not, but it sure is good to talk about the possibility.