With training camp set to begin in Bourbonnais this weekend, the silence of the NFL dead period is finally ending. In direct comparison to the 31 other teams in the NFL, the Chicago Bears had a relatively quiet offseason. More, or less, we already know 90% of the final roster is likely intact from last season.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be any stories to cover. Plus, there will be some key battles happening at various positions on the team.
This part will track the major stories regarding the Bears’ offense. Some stories have already been repeated endlessly by the media — cough cough Trubisky haters cough cough — where others are just about to begin. Of course, the number one question entering training camp is....well, the development of the franchise quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky.
Can Mitchell Trubisky take the next step in his development?
I’ll address this question right away, and say that Trubisky is most certainly capable of becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Maybe not elite — not yet at least — but top ten isn’t out of the question. Comparing him to his 2017 draft counterparts in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes is unfair, as he’s already 1) underwent an extreme change in coaching philosophy from John Fox to Matt Nagy and 2) had to build new chemistry with his supporting cast in consecutive seasons.
With that, comes one reality of the 2019 regular season. He has no more excuses to not succeed as the Bears’ quarterback. The pieces are in place; from coaching, to a large amount of weaponry and a fortified trench on offense, to an elite defense backing him up. This is something the Bears haven’t achieved in decades.
Finally, a quarterback has been placed in a real position to achieve sustainable success. Now, Trubisky just has to follow through on his development, and the buzz from Chicago indicates that he’s ready for his ascent in the league’s pecking order at quarterback. If he does take that next step in his development, the Bears are destined for the Super Bowl.
The Battle for “Top Dog” at the running back position
Lester Wiltfong has already touched on the development and competition at runningback in his latest piece, which you can access right here.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m still not buying this “committee” nonsense people bring up when talking about this critical element in Matt Nagy’s offense. There will be an established hierarchy on the depth chart, and training camp will determine who earns the title as the starter for the 2019 season. Tarik Cohen is the lone wolf returning from last year’s group, and he’ll be featured everywhere on offense.
For me, the majority of the battle early on will be between free agent signee Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery. And who doesn’t love a real competition to figure out the best option? It’s already evident that Montgomery will be featured aplenty during the preseason, as the staff wants to see what they currently have on their (likely) featured back.
Changing of the Guard between James Daniels and Cody Whitehair
Earlier in the spring, it was revealed that the Bears will be making a positional swap between pro bowler Cody Whitehair and James Daniels at Center and Left Guard, respectively. The move has been seen as a “win/win” provided both players are returning to their natural positions.
Cody was originally drafted to be the Bears’ LG in the 2016 draft before Josh Sitton miraculously fell to their lap as a surprise training camp cut, and James spent a majority of his collegiate career at Iowa as a dominant Center.
The shakeup on the Bears’ O-line is likely being made in an effort to better the Bears’ inside run game, as they did struggle last season when attempting to run between the tackles. It certainly didn’t help matters having a running back position that was seen as predictable, which was also addressed as I mentioned earlier. Yet, when it did come time to surge up the middle, there wasn’t a consistent push in the trenches.
It’s typically odd when you see a player coming off their first Pro Bowl appearance change positions the following season. For Cody, this could help his career for the better, as he’s a prime candidate for a new contract this year. And, for the Bears’ offense, this change could make their offense more potent moving forward.
These are just three of what could me many more stories to come on this phase, along with the rest of the team. What are some of the top stories you, the fans, will be monitoring during this preseason?