The 2018 off-season brought an entirely new look to a previously stagnant Bears’ offense.
Young pieces such as Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen have gained another year of experience, which should only help in the near future. On top of that, you have personnel additions in Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. Chicago’s entire offensive staff - outside of the return of quarterback’s coach Dave Raggone - has changed. Headlining this dramatic facelift is head coach Matt Nagy, who brings his innovative offensive mind and fiery leadership to the Bears in hopes of a rapid turnaround.
The 2017 Los Angeles Rams were a prime example of how an offensive unit can go from worst to first in the matter of one off-season assuming the correct moves are made.
This is something Chicago is looking to emulate. So, what are realistic expectations?
Through careful consideration, these projections offer a glimpse as to what’s to come for the Bears’ offense.
Mitchell Trubisky: 3842 yards (62.6 percent ) 22 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, Passer rating: 92.3
Chase Daniel: 131 yards, 1 touchdown
The rest: 112 yards, 1 touchdown
Total: 4,085 yards (62.8 percent), 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Trubisky and company have a lot of targets to mix in and only one ball. If the past two years of Nagy’s offensive numbers with the Chiefs are any indication, the second-year quarterback is in for a breakout 2018 season.
For comparison’s sake, Trubisky’s projected numbers aren’t quite up to par of Jared Goff or Carson Wentz’s 2017 play with the Rams and Eagles, respectively. It’s a step in the right direction, though.
Jordan Howard: 242 carries, 1,109 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 7 touchdowns
Tarik Cohen: 91 carries, 432 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns
Mitchell Trubisky: 45 carries, 282 yards, 6.3 yards per carry, two touchdowns
The rest: 28 carries, 98 yards, 3.5 yards per carry, 1 touchdown
Total: 407 carries, 1,921 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, 13 touchdowns
Look at the Chiefs’ run-to-pass ratio over the two years when Nagy was the offensive coordinator, and in both years they ran the ball 43 percent of the time. To keep it realistic with these projections, I stuck close to this split: 43.6 percent to be exact.
Since the Bears’ offense is expected to become more balanced, Howard’s carries may go down, but expect his yards per carry to go up. He’ll still be the same productive back with less opportunities. You can also plan on Cohen being consistently used around seven or so runs per game.
Allen Robinson: 76 receptions, 1,079 yards, 14.2 yards per reception, 7 touchdowns (116 targets)
Anthony Miller: 40 receptions, 511 yards, 12.8 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns (58 targets)
Taylor Gabriel: 33 receptions, 436 yards, 13.2 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns (49 targets)
Tarik Cohen: 41 receptions, 483 yards, 11.8 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns (66 targets)
The rest: 23 receptions, 251 yards, 1 touchdown (47 targets)
Projecting the pass catchers was a challenge. Finding a balance, while also keeping the numbers within the passing parameters above, wasn’t easy. Keep in mind, these projections expect everyone to stay healthy, which isn’t always the case. If this unit does stay healthy, Trubisky and Nagy will have to be creative to get all their weapons involved.
First, Robinson is likely to be the team’s No. 1 receiver. He might start slow while easing back in from his ACL injury, but he was the Bears’ marquee free agent signing and should be a good fit for this offense.
After Robinson is a collection of crafty receivers that will fight for a limited amount of targets. In these projections, I have the rookie Miller as the team’s second-leading receiver, with Cohen on his tail. Gabriel is too hard to project, so I stuck closer to his career averages. That being the case, expect his impact on the field to be substantially larger than his numbers.
Last but not least, there’s Kevin White and the rest of the Bears’ pass catchers. Barring injury, there isn’t a lot of targets and playing time to go around for this group. Howard and Cunningham likely see the majority of the 23 remaining receptions.
Trey Burton: 71 receptions, 808 yards, 11.3 yards per reception, 5 touchdowns ( 107 targets)
Adam Shaheen: 31 receptions, 341 yards, 11 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns (43 targets)
The rest: 14 receptions, 173 yards, 12.4 yards per reception, 1 touchdown (21 targets)
When the Bears signed Burton to a four-year, $32 million deal, they had a sizable role for him in mind. Outside of Robinson, the former Eagle will prove to be Trubisky’s top target and a safety blanket in clutch situations. With these types of numbers, the Super Bowl hero could see top seven type NFL production in an offense that is built for his talents.
Shaheen’s numbers are disappointing to the eye, but he’s another player that will have more value than his numbers show. Expect him to be a go-to target on third downs and in red zone situations.
Regarding Dion Sims and Daniel Brown, there’s not much left to go around as explained with the receivers. Sims is likely used more as a blocker than anything in Nagy’s offense. And Brown isn’t going to see much of the field, except on special teams and in case of injury.
This production at tight end is worlds better than anything the team has seen in years.
Cody Parkey: 33 of 37 (89 percent), 53-yard long, 35 of 37 extra points
After aggressively pursuing Parkey in the opening days of the free agency “legal tampering period”, the revolving door post-Robbie Gould should end. Parkey’s career 86.4 percent field goal percentage will stick right around that figure in 2018.
The Bears should have little issue moving the ball this season. Through these projections, this unit would have ranked sixth in yards and roughly 14th in points when stacked up against the 2017 NFL statistically.
Not only is this a huge step up in play, but it’s also not unrealistic. A Bears’ offense that ranked in the bottom five in both categories last year has high bars to clear.
Health remains the key, as does the development within Nagy’s offense. If all goes as planned, this Bears’ group filled with new faces will shock a lot of people.
Find Aaron on Twitter @AaronLemingNFL.