Our Den-meister, Ken Mitchell, has become our offseason muse at Windy City Gridiron. Every so often he pops in one of our daily email chains and he drops a good story idea for one of us to run with. His latest interesting nugget was an idea that we each write about something that we’re afraid could happen in 2018 to the Chicago Bears. A few of us chimed in and I’ll share them all here, starting with mine.
Every time I discuss my optimism for the 2018 Chicago Bears, and I am very optimistic, I always find myself prefacing it with the same thing over and over.
If healthy, the Bears offensive line should preform admirably.
If healthy, Allen Robinson will give the Bears a legit number one receiver.
If healthy, Leonard Floyd and the Bears pass rush could take take things to the next level.
If healthy, Chicago’s secondary could be a strength of the team.
If healthy, if healthy, if healthy...
Right now, most of the key Bears are healthy, but recent history tells us that some of these guys won’t make it through the season.
Last year, Robinson, Floyd, Kyle Long, Danny Trevathan, Aaron Lynch, Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan, Kevin White, Nick Kwiatkoski, Adam Shaheen, Benny Cunningham, and Hroniss Grasu, just to name some, all missed time with varying degrees of injuries.
The Bears did change their head trainer and their strength and conditioning coach, so hopefully the bad injury luck is a thing of the past, but what if it isn’t?
I’m fearful that a lot of the players I listed above aren’t going to survive the season.
Now let’s hear from a few other WCG staffers.
I’m fearful that the pass rush will still be highly ineffective this season. While the Bears had a very good offseason and ended up filling most of their needs through free agency and the draft, the lack of attention they gave to their pass rush isn’t very comforting. Their top three edge rushers all have injury concerns to some degree, and none of them scream “true top edge rusher” quite yet. Leonard Floyd has been good when he’s been on the field, but he has had trouble staying healthy so far in his career. Until he breaks out and becomes the sack machine that many thought he would be coming out of the draft, I don’t feel quite comfortable with him being the best edge rusher on the team.
Aaron Lynch has shown flashes of talent to some degree, but he has made an extremely minimal impact over the past two seasons. 14 games over the past two seasons is a bad statistic in itself, but the fact that he has only had 2.5 sacks in that span may be even worse. Kylie Fitts is another talented edge rusher, but he was plagued by injuries in his final two collegiate seasons. Plus, he still has to do a better job of converting speed to power and shedding blocks on a consistent basis. Sam Acho should serve as a decent depth piece and not much else.
Even if the Bears decide to bring in a veteran free agent like Connor Barwin or Lamarr Houston - a move I highly advise they do, by the way - then their group of edge rushers will still be less than impressive. Having Akiem Hicks should do wonders for them, but a lack of consistent pressure off the edge sticks out as the biggest thing that could hold the Bears back in 2018.
Jack M Silverstein
There is one, and only one, fearful projection for the Bears in 2018, and it’s the same one we’ll have for hopefully the next 15 years:
A season-ending (or, worse, career-ending) injury to Mitch Trubisky.
I wrote a story on Bears fans last year for the Reader, for which I went to the pre-game tailgate of the Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field. I spoke with a lot of Bears fans, but I also spoke with some Packers fans, and one guy told me that his number one fear for years playing the Bears was that Urlacher would break past the line on a blitz and just end the season of either Favre or Rodgers. We had this fear with Cutler ... kind of. The difference was that while we knew the impact a Cutler injury would have (see 2010 and 2011), he didn’t have the emotional resonance for Bears fans that Trubisky has, for a number of reasons.
Obviously we’re not going to watch Mitch’s career play out while drenched in unending fear sweats. But if Mitch continues to develop into the franchise quarterback we all think he can be (and I believe he will) then we’ll be holding our collective breath a bit more frequently whenever Defensive Opponent X breaks past the line and confronts our hero.
I worry that the same people who evaluated Mike Glennon and said “he’s good enough for now” were the same people who evaluated Mitchell Trubisky. I like what I have seen from him so far, but there is the very real chance that this is as good as he gets. He might just be “okay,” and while the Bears can win with “okay” at quarterback, everything gets a lot harder if that’s the case.
More than that, I worry that the fans are going to crucify this kid if he is anything short of spectacular. Some people are already saying he needs to be in the same league as all-time greats, or that he needs to be at least a Pro Bowler in order to be worth keeping. That worries me. Even if he can be good, it might take time. This is an unreasonable fan base that booed him before he played a game. If he is simply competent, he might find the town reviles him for no fault of his own. I hated the way local radio opened their conversations with Floyd about his weight, I hated the way it was Kevin White’s fault that he drove a nice car when he was the victim of a crime, and I hate wondering when fans are going to turn on a guy just because he makes a mistake or three.
I am fearful that Matt Nagy won’t work out and we’ll be stuck with another coach that comes in saying all the right things and duping the media and fans into thinking this is the one that’s going to turn it around, finally. I worry that he’s Marc Trestman with more command of a room, that he’s Mike Martz 2.0, touting a system that doesn’t adapt and only works with the perfect players and conditions.
There are many unknowns with Nagy and he’s never been a head guy and the people that hired him also hired John Fox and, above them are the men that signed off on hiring Trestman and Emery. My fear is that it all falls apart because they still have the wrong coach.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
My personal fear, is that the Bears wind up asking Tarik Cohen to do too much in their game plans.
It’s easy to get caught up in how versatile Cohen is as an athlete. And rest assured, he’s going to be a deadly weapon moving forward. With that said, we have seen teams get carried away and give a player more than they can handle. Remember, Cohen is just in his second year in the league, and he has some improvements in his game to make.
I think his biggest problem is pressing to make a play too hard at times. Instead of taking what the defense gave him, he tried to force a magical play only to get dropped for a loss. That kind of habit is a West Coast killer. If he learns to dial it down when necessary, then I think he’ll be fine.
Sometimes, moderation is the best policy. And besides, the Bears now have a plethora of weapons to choose from. Spread the load evenly, instead of giving it all to one player in a figurative buffet, but I’m sure Matt Nagy is aware of this.
My fearful projection is in 2 parts. First off, despite Ryan Pace’s efforts to minimize injuries, these players are just prone to being injured. Right now, everything appears to be hunky dory, but as we all know, that can change in an instant. If Kyle Long, Leonard Floyd, Allen Robinson, and Danny Trevathan are all hurt again, you can pretty much pack this season in.
The second part of this is the offensive install. We all (should) know that it takes time to install an offense and have it have any kind of competency. While I am not particularly worried that we will see something akin to last season, I am fearful that the players struggle to pick up on the nuances and that the playbook is more limited than we had hoped. Hopefully, neither of these are an issue but at first blush, they seem like the most likely scenarios to hold this team back in 2018.
I’m afraid that there’s going to be a lot of hot-takes and negative reactions in the Bears media and fanbase as Chicago starts to roll out the new offense. It’s such a huge, radical shift, new EVERYTHING (terminology, formations, assignments, plays, blocking schemes, routes, pace of play, you name it) and it’s going to be a bit of a fiasco, no matter how hard people work. There’s going to be breakdowns, there’s going to be penalties and turnovers, there’s going to be confusion, and it’s going to take more than just one season to really get it down. It took three seasons for Kansas City to get it dialed in. People expect instant success, and I’m not looking forward to the backlash.
Now it’s your turn. What is your fearful projection for the Bears in 2018?