When I spend a little time looking back on my annual 10 Most Important Chicago Bears offseason lists before compiling the latest iteration, it becomes apparent what went right (or wrong) about the previous season. In 2019 a lot of things went wrong for the Bears and a quick scan through the 10 people I listed as most important a year ago is a snapshot of exactly why.
But before I take us on a sad trip down memory lane, a few reminders...
This is my annual reminder not to skim through to the list below thinking that this is this year’s version of my 10 Most Important Bears. I always take a look back to see how my predictions panned out before penning the latest version.
What makes one Bear more “Important” than another is subjective, so your list may end up much different than my list, and here’s my loose guidelines for “importance” that I’ve been following since being handed this assignment back in 2009.
“What potential impact they may have, how much the team will look to the individual for guidance or leadership, how badly the team would suffer if they lost the player to injury, and other intangible attributes.”
So once again, what you are about to read is a recap of last year’s list. Don’t be the guy that skims through the list thinking this is how I’m picking it this year.
You can click on the number in front of each name to see the article from last season.
10) Prince Amukamara - Prince had a solid 2018 but I had concerns if he could repeat the feat in 2019 at 30 years old. He couldn’t. It’s not that his 2019 was bad, it just wasn’t as good as the previous year.
9) Kyle Long - Long bouncing back to his Pro Bowl form would have helped solidify Chicago's offensive line, but his play slipped to such a level that the Bears put him season ending injured reserve when he had no specific injury. He’s an unrestricted free agent, and sort of retired, but he is thinking about a possible comeback if he ever gets his body right.
8) The Nickelback - The Bears let Bryce Callahan go last offseason, and even though he spent a lot of time in the training room, when he was on the field he was solid. Buster Skrine (who was the odds on favorite to win the job), Duke Shelley, and Sherrick McManis were all in the running to win the gig, and it was Skrine that won the job in camp. This is arguably the only Bear on my 2019 list that actually came though.
7) David Montgomery - The Bears traded Jordan Howard and it was expected that Montgomery would be the missing link to the offense. Montgomery only had three fewer touches as a rookie in 2019 than Howard did in 2018 for the Bears, but he wasn’t able to make an impact in the running or the passing game.
6) Eddie Jackson - Last year I wondered if Jackson was the best safety in the league, and while he still had a fantastic season that landed him in the Pro Bowl, he fell short of a return trip to the All-Pro team.
5) Matt Nagy - Seeing how Nagy continued to grow the quarterback as well as seeing how he handled being the favorite were the two big reasons I had him on the list.
4) Akiem Hicks - A healthy Akiem Hicks would have been huge for the Bears last year, but injuries held him to only 5 games.
3) The Kicker - At the time the Bears had Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro as the last men standing after the exhaustive offseason search to replace (and erase) the memory of the Cody Parkey era.
2) Khalil Mack - He still made the Pro Bowl and is the player all offenses need to scheme around, but his overall impact wasn’t as huge as 2018.
1) Mitchell Trubisky - I was all in on the Trubisky hype train a year ago. I wasn’t predicting an MVP season or anything that gaudy, but I was expecting him to take a step in year two of Nagy’s offense and break the Bears’ pedestrian passing records.
I’ll get things started with number ten in my 10 Most Important Bears of 2020 list in a day or two.