I got this idea from a series of articles at The Draft Network, where they are giving their superlative picks in seven different categories for all 32 teams. I thought it would be a fun exercise to run through myself, so fun in fact that I sent the questions out to our team as well. And since I didn’t want us to have all the fun, I even shot out the question on Twitter to get your takes.
We’ve already looked at the Breakout Guy for the 2019 Chicago Bears, the Comeback Kid, the Rising Star, and the Don’t Forget About for the ‘19 Bears But before we get into our picks for the Bear that needs to rebound, let’s see who Joe Marino of The Draft Network picked.
NEEDS TO REBOUND: KICKERS
It still feels like the Bears are dealing with the aftermath of last season’s playoff loss to the Eagles that officially ended in a 43-yards field goal attempt by Cody Parkey that was blocked. Matt Nagy continues to talk about it and Chicago has gone through great lengths to find its next kicker.
The race is down to Eddy Piniero and Elliott Fry, neither of whom has ever kicked a field goal in an NFL game. Perhaps a better solution would have been signing Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers who was a free agent this offseason after making 33-of-36 field goals for the Jets in 2019 including 6-of-7 from over 50 yards. There has been so much discussion brought up over the place kicking situation in Chicago and more of a “sure thing” at the position should have been accomplished. It’s not unreasonable to be concerned that Nagy has placed too much stress on potential candidates and an enduring problem now exists like what we’ve witnessed in Tampa Bay over the years.
That Draft Network article was published before the Bears released Elliott Fry, but the sentiment remains. Finding a kicker has been an issue for the Bears for years, but I liked the ‘throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall’ approach the team took this offseason. In hindsight this is something they should have done after cutting Robbie Gould. No need to bring in a veteran trying to hold on back then when the Bears were starting a rebuild. They should have signed a youngster and let him grow into the role, because that’s how most successful kickers start in the NFL, and had they done that they could have had their veteran kicker in place in 2019.
For my pick on the Bear that needs to rebound, I’m staying with the third phase and going with special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
Besides the punt returning excellence of Tarik Cohen, Chicago’s special teams haven’t been all that special. The kicking problems are obvious, but there was a handful of coverage breakdowns in 2018 that the Bears need to clean up.
Simply adding Cordarrelle Patterson will help the kick returns, but Tabor needs to tap into the teachings form one of his mentors, Dave Toub, to get the Bears’ special teams back on track.
Now let’s check on who some other WCG staffers picked as their Bear that needs to rebound in 2019.
Patti Curl - Chris Tabor
The Bears special Teams coordinator needs to get that 3rd unit bouncing back quickly if the Bears want to be the comprehensively-dominant force ravaging their way through the post-season that I believe they can be.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Bears Special Teams
It wasn’t just the kicking game that generated a lot of memes in 2018. The entire special teams group stank aside from Tarik Cohen’s take on ridiculousness. A revolving door has developed at kick returner since Devin Hester’s departure, and lane integrity along with tackling for both kick and punt coverage units has been sub-par. The arrival of Cordarrelle Patterson likely solves the problem at kick returner. Now, we just need to hope that #BearsSpecialTeams doesn’t rear it’s ugly face anymore.
Josh Sunderbruch - Adam Shaheen, TE
I have seen more promise out of Bunting this offseason, and I’m not convinced Bunting is going to make the roster. Shaheen was one of those risks that Pace seems to specialize in, and so far this one has not paid off. He needs to earn his roster spot this year.
Sam Householder - Adam Shaheen, TE
He’s the most obvious candidate. It’s put up or shut up time for the third-year pro. He has to stay healthy and start showing the flashes we’ve (briefly) seen at other points in his career. He was never healthy last year and he missed a lot time his rookie year. There were some late camp reports that maybe he was starting to get it together, but that has yet to be seen in the regular season.
Ken Mitchell - Adam Shaheen, TE
The Bears tight end needs to stay healthy and show more than just flashes. It’s time for him to fish or cut bait.
Robert Zeglinski - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
Stylistic adjustments are going to have to be made to accommodate Clinton-Dix’s skill-set in Chicago’s defense. While he offers more upside in sheer playmaking than his predecessor, Adrian Amos, Clinton-Dix is far too alike to his former Alabama teammate Eddie Jackson to see the Bears deploy the former Packer like they did Amos. This means a lot more two-high safety looks. It develops into potentially allowing two centerfielding safeties to do whatever they please. There’s no reason to distrust a noted superstar like Jackson in this scenario. But for Clinton-Dix, after being jettisoned by two teams in one season due to poor tackling effort and reliability, he doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt.
One of the most noticeable weak spots on an otherwise sound defense can’t afford any slip-ups.
Robert Schmitz - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
Let’s get this out of the way: there’s a reason that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed such a cheap deal with the Bears, and it wasn’t because he was playing at an all-star level in Green Bay or Washington. He clearly has skills as a ball-hawk, but his poor performance as a tackler and other inconsistencies left him with no better options than a one-year “career restart” on a defense where he’ll be surrounded by phenomenal talent. He has a lot to offer the Bears, especially in the way of Free Safety depth, so if he can rebound successfully both he and the Bears will enjoy a great year.
Aaron Leming - Trey Burton, TE
Burton’s first half of the year was excellent. He was exactly the player the Bears had hoped to get and looked like a perfect fit for the team’s new offense. Then the Thanksgiving game against the Lions happened and he simply wasn’t the same after that. On top of all that had happened, he missed the team’s playoff game against the Eagles with a groin injury and later had Sports Hernia surgery. He’s been worked back into football activities slowly but is expected to be ready for Week 1. He’s a big factor in this offense, even if he’s just out on the field. Burton’s contract ties him down until after the 2020 season, so he needs to available and effective.
Now let’s check in with Twitter to see what some of you guys had to say about your pick for Bear that needs to rebound.
The obvious choice is Leonard Floyd due to his contract status. But I’d say Kyle Long needs to stay healthy for the season and help maintain continuity on the oline while also providing leadership and not silly penalties— Aaron (@Ditkapunch187) August 25, 2019
The whole team needs to rebound and not be a 1 and done in the playoffs this year— Bearsfan0506 (@Bearsfan0506) August 25, 2019
Shaheen needs to prove he can remain healthy and contribute to the level that warranted his 2nd rd draft selection— derrick (@derrick21h) August 25, 2019
Leonard Floyd needs to be that dependable 2nd pass rusher.— D Canon (@MSMS247) August 25, 2019
Chris Tabor, not because of the double-doink, because ST's has been extremely weak and with the talent now playing on ST's, poor coverage and sloppy blocking cannot be excused.— Don (@donschimming) August 25, 2019
Trubisky needs to rebound. Though he had a decent second season he needs to build upon it. As Trubisky goes so do the Bears.— Dan Curcio (@beardown3479) August 26, 2019
Floyd. We need him to be better in coverage and most importantly pass rush off the edge.— Dalla Dalla (@TheeDharkSide) August 25, 2019
Haha Clinton-Dix. He was traded by GB during the season last year for supposed performance issues. He played well in DC and could be a major contributor to an improving defense if his performance is better than the one in GB last season.— Marc Sira (@SiraMarc) August 26, 2019
Now it’s your turn, who is your Bear that needs to rebound for the 2019 season?