The Chicago Bears held the last day of their mini-camp before breaking until coaches and players report for training camp on July 19th. The mini-camp brings an end to a very busy and eventful offseason for the team that brought several changes. With the roster set up for training camp, there are final points optimism and skepticism on both sides of the ball heading into the break.
During the offseason, General Manager Ryan Pace created much optimism with the hire of head coach Matt Nagy who was the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. What increased the optimism further was Pace’s action in free agency and the draft. Money was spent to provide second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with as many offensive weapons as possible.
Added in free agency were wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and tight end Trey Burton. During the draft, the front office made a bold move on the second day as they traded their 2019 second-round pick for the New England Patriots second round pick to draft receiver Anthony Miller. If everyone stays healthy, Trubisky will have a new set of wide receivers and tight end to throw to.
The one cause for skepticism with the offense now that the roster appears to be set heading into training camp is the health and readiness of the offensive line. The interior of the line will feature Kyle Long, center Cody Whitehair, and rookie James Daniels. Daniels, who played center in college, will be playing the guard position for the team. Long, who was placed on injured reserve after week 11 last season, had multiple surgeries this offseason to address several injuries that had hampered him.
Even if healthy, the entire offensive line will be learning a new playbook and will have new blocking schemes. It is imperative for the projected starting offensive line to stay healthy and have as many snaps together during the pre-season to be ready for the regular season. The success of the offensive line most crucial to the success of the offense as they will need to protect Trubisky.
From a defensive standpoint, the retention of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is the key to excitement.
Unlike most head coaching changes, the Bears chose to keep the defensive scheme in place to build on their top 10 ranking from last season. The defense staying in place will allow the team to stay competitive for the 2018 season and will allow for all attention for a rebuild to be on the offense. Since being hired in 2015, Fangio took a historically bad Bears defense from the year before and in four seasons has turned into one of the NFL’s most reliable units.
The most glaring cause for concern for the defense and possibly the team as a whole is the depth at the linebacker position. During the offseason, the team chose not to re-sign linebackers Pernell McPhee, Christian Jones, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston. Lost is a consistent pass rush pressure and veteran experience at the position. The team addressed the lack of depth with the signing of Aaron Lynch and the drafting of first-round selection Roquan Smith.
Even with the additions, the team still lacks a threatening pass rush from the outside linebacker position as Leonard Floyd appears to be the only threat.
McPhee, Houston, and Young combined for over 41 sacks in the three seasons together. Floyd injury history is an issue also as he has missed four or more games due to injuries in both of his first seasons. If there is one position that can’t afford to lose players to due injuries it is the linebacker position.
The Bears front office made a big effort to improve this team this offseason and have put themselves in a position of intrigue heading into the start of the 2018 season. It will be a team that will have a goal to win with offense and build upon the success of their young quarterback. Training camp will start in six weeks, the anticipation will grow from now until then, but hypotheticals won’t be answered until the first practice.