Even though the Chicago Bears released a depth chart yesterday in advance of their week one opener against the Detroit Lions, they prefaced it by calling it “unofficial,” so we all know what that means.
What the team puts out on paper this time of the year is rarely the same way they line things up on game day. Think of it as more of a guideline as injuries, roster moves, and specific opponent match-ups could all come into play.
But with that being said, it’s still awesome knowing we have a game to watch on Sunday, so here are five of my takeaways from their unofficial 2020 depth chart.
1) Bilal Nichols gets the nod at nose tackle
Nichols may not look like a traditional nose tackle at a lean 6’3”, 313 pounds, so we may not see the Bears ask him to 2-gap as much as they did with Eddie Goldman. But that doesn’t mean he can’t eat up space on occasion. He played some nose in college, and even played there a bit the last couple years for the Bears, so I wouldn’t expect defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to change too much for Nichols.
Plus the Bears played plenty of 4 man front looks a year ago, and that will likely continue in 2020.
2) Ted Ginn Jr. starts at wide receiver with Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller
The 35-year old Ginn can still move, and whether he’s coming in as the number three, or starting at the Z, Ginn will add some veteran savvy to the offense. He played in 57% of the offensive snaps a year ago with the New Orleans Saints, and I’d imagine he’d be around 50% this year. His hands aren’t the greatest, but he’s a decent route runner and his speed still makes defensive backs nervous.
3) Cordarrelle Patterson is WR2 behind Robinson and not at running back
This doesn’t matter at all, because there’s no way Patterson will be first man up in place of Robinson. He spent the offseason learning the intricacies of running back, so that’s where he’ll play more this year for the Bears. Especially this week as they’ll likely be without David Montgomery who will be nursing a groin injury.
4) Chicago’s rookie class is coming to play
Cole Kmet is listed as the number two tight end on the depth chart, which could either mean he’s Jimmy Graham’s back up at the U, or it could mean he’s the first man up at the Y. Either way, he’ll definitely be contributing as a rookie. Considering the Bears are likely to play quite a bit of 12 personnel this year (1 running back, 2 tight ends), it’ll be fun to see how they deploy their big rookie around the offense.
Jaylon Johnson is listed as the starter at corner after a slow start to camp. The coaches took their time in acclimating him to the team as he rehabbed his shoulder surgery, but his talent was too much to hold back and he won the job.
The Bears have two other rookies that could be in line for some early playing time in Darnell Mooney and Trevis Gipson.
Mooney is listed ahead of second year pro Riley Ridley at the third receiver spot behind fellow speedster Ginn, and that’s the perfect place for the 22-year old to learn the ropes.
Gipson is behind Khalil Mack at outside linebacker, and is the likely second OLB off the bench after Barkevious Mingo. Last year that was Isaiah Irving’s role and he played about 12% of the snaps on D. Hopefully Gipson can play about 8 snaps a week and give the Bears a pass rush in relief of Mack and Robert Quinn off the edge.
5) It’s 2020, time to list 12 starters on defense
Teams play more nickel they do their base defense these days, so listing only 11 men on defense should be a thing of the past. We all know that Buster Skrine is the Bears nickelback, so let’s indicate that on the depth chart.
Here’s how the Bears list things this week.
WR - Allen Robinson II, Cordarrelle Patterson
TE - Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris, J.P. Holtz, Eric Saubert
RT - Bobby Massie, Rashaad Coward
RG - Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Coward
C- Cody Whitehair, James Daniels
LG - James Daniels, Alex Bars, Arlington Hambright
LT - Charles Leno Jr., Jason Spriggs
QB - Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles
RB- David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall
WR- Anthony Miller, Javon Wims
WR - Ted Ginn Jr., Darnell Mooney, Riley Ridley
DT - Akiem Hicks, Brent Urban
NT - Bilal Nichols, John Jenkins
DE - Roy Robertson-Harris
OLB - Khalil Mack, Trevis Gipson
ILB - Roquan Smith, Josh Woods
ILB - Danny Trevathan, Joel Iyiegbuniwe
OLB - Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo, James Vaughters
CB - Kyle Fuller, Buster Skrine
S - Tashaun Gipson Sr., Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson
S - Eddie Jackson, Sherrick McManis
CB - Jaylon Johnson, Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor
P - Pat O’Donnell
K - Eddy Piñeiro
LS - Patrick Scales
H - Pat O’Donnell
KR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller
PR - Tarik Cohen, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller