The preseason is officially underway for the Chicago Bears, which brings an end to one of the team’s more exciting offseasons in recent memory.
Allen Robinson marked the franchise’s biggest free agency signing since Julius Peppers in 2010. Players like Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller were all brought in to further boost the Bears’ offense. The selection of James Daniels helped plug up a hole on the offensive line, while the yet-to-have-signed Roquan Smith projects to be an impact player upon signing his rookie contract. Throw in the additions of head coach Matt Nagy and an almost entirely new, innovative offensive coaching staff, and the Bears seem to be in a good place going forward.
While Chicago may lack a truly elite player, they have several players on the roster who could be in for excellent seasons in 2018. Given their rich history laden with legendary defensive playmakers, it seems to be unlikely that any of their current defenders will rewrite history this season. However, there are a few players in the other two phases of the game who could do just that. These are three Bears records that could potentially be broken this year.
Most passing yards in a single season
Current holder: Erik Kramer with 3,838 yards (1995)
Potential record breaker: Mitchell Trubisky
The ongoing narrative is that second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will make big strides in his sophomore campaign and rebound from his middling rookie season. While it currently appears to be unlikely that the North Carolina alumnus will lead his team to the playoffs like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, a breakout year is definitely a realistic outcome.
Erik Kramer broke Chicago’s single season passing yards record in 1995, finishing seventh in the NFL with 3,838 yards. Aided by the thousand-yard seasons of Jeff Graham and Curtis Conway, Kramer put together the best season of his career en route to a 9-7 record as the Bears’ starting quarterback.
While the chances of the Bears having two players top one thousand receiving yards are slim, this year’s roster has a deeper group of weapons than the 1995 unit had. With the aforementioned offseason additions, as well as Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen, the Bears have a lot of talented players for Trubisky to throw to, which will make it tougher for opposing defenses to plan for them.
Alex Smith had 4,042 passing yards with Nagy as his offensive coordinator last year with the Kansas City Chiefs despite sitting out the final game of the regular season. If Trubisky is able to make a big enough leap, then such a total could be a realistic ceiling for him this year.
Most field goals made in a single season
Current holder: Robbie Gould with 33 field goals (2015)
Potential record breaker: Cody Parkey
Robbie Gould appeared to be on the decline in 2015 - his final season with the Bears before he was released - but he still managed to break a team record on his way out. Gould nailed 33 of his 39 field goal attempts that season, a mark which broke his own record from 2006. Since then, the Bears have struggled to find a long-term replacement for the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history. As the likes of Connor Barth, Cairo Santos and Mike Nugent have all come and gone, the team hopes that they have found their answer at the position in Cody Parkey.
Parkey is coming off of the most accurate season of his career, in which he made 91.3 percent of his field goal attempts with the Miami Dolphins. Granted, he only attempted 23 field goals, but he has proven that he can be efficient with a heavier workload: he made 32 field goals on 36 attempts with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014.
If the workload of Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker from last year is any indication of how often Parkey will be kicking, then Parkey could be in prime position to break Gould’s record. Butker attempted 42 field goals last season in just 13 games, and Cairo Santos attempted three of his own before he was released.
The Bears signed Parkey to a four-year, $15 million contract this offseason, which serves as a testament to how much faith they have in him. A record-setting first year with the team would be a fantastic way for him to prove that he’s worth every penny of that deal.
Most receptions in a rookie season
Current holder: Matt Forte with 63 receptions (2008)
Potential record breaker: Anthony Miller
Given how many talented wide receivers, tight ends and running backs the Bears have, the odds of a single one of them having a jaw-dropping season are unlikely. Even Allen Robinson, who enters the preseason as the team’s bonafide top receiver, probably won’t put up monster numbers. Rookie Anthony Miller probably will not be an exception, but his potentially surpassing expectations in his first year in the Windy City is not necessarily impossible.
Matt Forte stepped out of Tulane as an immediate contributor to a lackadaisical Bears offense. At a time where the team’s top wide receiver was Devin Hester, who was only in his second year of playing the position after transitioning from cornerback, Forte proved to be a reliable receiving option out of the backfield. This would prove to be the case throughout the running back’s eight-year tenure in Chicago, as he caught 487 passes in that span, with 102 of them coming in 2014.
Albert Wilson, the primary slot receiver for the Chiefs last season, caught 42 passes on 62 targets in 13 games. However, he also ended up missing three games, and he had to fight for touches with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, both of whom having topped one hundred targets. Assuming that the Bears will not have any players who put up numbers as imposing as those two, Miller could be in for more targets than his counterpart Wilson.
As Bears fans know by now, training camp is not by any means a surefire indication of how a player will do in the NFL. Nonetheless, it is intriguing to see just how impressive Miller has looked in practices thus far. He has shown off the ability to create separation and make tricky catches on a consistent basis that had him so highly touted coming out of Memphis. If he manages to translate his success in camp to the regular season, then a year of record-breaking proportions might not be that unrealistic.
Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also an NFL Draft writer at USA Today SMG’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or emailed at email@example.com.