By: Alex Patt
The Chicago Bears enter yet another season with little expectations from many. The team is still considered under a rebuild under GM Ryan Pace and has been in that position since he took over after the 2014 season. The team took a big step into a specific direction when they controversially drafted QB Mitchell Trubisky second overall in this year’s draft. While the Bears do have some pieces in place and some aspects of the game that do look good, there are still some roster holes and uncertainty about specific areas of the roster. This will be head coach John Fox’s third year as a Bear and very well could be his last.
Though Trubisky is the face of the future, he is currently taking a seat behind veteran QB Mike Glennon, who signed as a free agent to start the season. The biggest question is how long that will last in the season as Glennon looked mediocre in the preseason and Trubisky impressed fans and experts alike. Glennon had trouble throwing down field and really made most of his completions on dump passes and screens. On the other hand, Trubisky was throwing darts all across the field and doing an incredible job under pressure. The Bears also have veteran Mark Sanchez on the roster and depending on the scenario, he may come in as the back up to Glennon. If Glennon is serviceable, do not expect him to be benched. He will be benched only if he is really bad or injured, but he has $18 million guaranteed this year and the Bears will try to stick with him as best they can.
The rest of the offense has its ups and downs. Their offensive line on paper with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton at guard, Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. at tackle and Cody Whitehair at center is pretty good. Long and Sitton are multiple-time Pro Bowlers and Whitehair has looked promising. The biggest concern is the health of Kyle Long who had surgery last year and did not play in the preseason, plus the tackle position that struggled on the pass protection at times last year.
The running backs are one of the biggest strengths on the offense with sophomore Jordan Howard who rushed for 1,313 yards last year, rookie Tarik Cohen and special teams specialist Benny Cunningham. Unfortunately 3rd down back Ka’Deem Carey is on IR.
The wide receiver and tight end positions are a bit on the questionable side. Number one target Cameron Meredith tore his ACL in the preseason and is done for the year, while number two option Kevin White is still a mystery on his abilities. Right now, we the Bears, will have to rely on White, Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson, and Josh Bellamy at wide receiver and that does not exactly put a scare into anyone. At tight end Dion Sims and Zach Miller will be solid veteran targets along with rookie Adam Shaheen who will be learning the ropes in the NFL. No doubt the running game is the established strength on this football team.
The defense might be one of the biggest overall strengths on the defense, particularly the front seven. The line, which is headlined by Akeim Hicks and Eddie Goldman and an LB core of Leonard Floyd and Willie Young on the outside and Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman on the inside, has looked very good so far. Again, the biggest concern is health, but if they do stay on the field and do their jobs they can actually be one of the best front defenses in football. The secondary is not great and eyes will mainly be on rookie Eddie Jackson at safety and if Kyle Fuller can bounce back at the corner position. However, if the front can keep the pressure on the QB, that will make a huge difference regardless.
Overall, this team has a lot of young talent mixed in with some solid veteran talent. It has already had some injury problems, but still has most of its young starters ready to play to start 2017. It still has its holes and weaknesses and that will likely keep them from contending, but it has the chance to be a competitive team that will be in a lot of games.