The Chicago Bears announced their presence in the NFC last season, as they put together a great year and became the champions of the NFC North. And while they fell short in the first round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles, there was a lot to be encouraged about if you are a Bears fan. This season, they will look to take those pieces and cultivate them into a true Super Bowl contender, as the Bears attempt to vault themselves into the top tier of teams in the league.
One of the things that made the Bears so hard to beat last season was the ability of Matt Nagy to put the Bears into advantageous personnel situations. But those situations don’t mean much if the team can’t execute the offense, which Mitchell Trubisky and company did a nice job of doing last year. Trubisky was third in the NFL in QBR last year at 73.0, and he’s looking to master the offense in 2019, according to the team.
Trubisky should have a new weapon to help him do so, as the Bears selected Riley Ridley in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Ridley’s brother is current Atlanta Falcons standout Calvin Ridley, both of whom had strong college careers at SEC schools. If Ridley adds another consistent presence to the Bears receiving corps, Trubisky should have an even easier time this year than he did during last season’s head-turning performance.
Of course, the Bears will need all of the production they can get out of their new offensive additions after trading Jordan Howard away to the Philadelphia Eagles. Howard had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season, marking the third straight year that he tallied at least 1,000 rushing and receiving yards for the team. But the emergence of Tarik Cohen and the general expendability of running backs in today’s NFL made him worth moving on from in the eyes of the team.
The Bears were a top-10 offense in the NFL last year, scoring 26.3 points per game. With another year of experience under their leader’s belt, it’s no surprise that the Bears are expected to be a Super Bowl contender sooner than later. As of June 4, 2019, the Bears were at +1400 odds to win the title at Betway, putting them only behind the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams, Saints, and Browns on the league’s list of favorites.
Last season, the Chicago Bears didn’t have their best defensive player on the roster until a few days before their season started. This year, Khalil Mack will have had a year of experience with the team under his belt. More importantly, he will be able to use an offseason to train with his coaching staff to help him better understand and execute everything that the team needs him to do on the field in 2019.
While being a pass rusher in the NFL sounds like a job as simple as going and getting the quarterback, there is much more to it than that. Due to Mack’s late arrival last season, he was unable to fully learn every nuance of the team’s defense before having to go out and help the team on the field. This year, Mack has been praised for his work ethic as he attempts to lock down the details of his responsibilities while improving on a 12.5 sack season last year, a season that earned him a LeBron James-inspired set of cleats for 2019.
It will be difficult for Chicago to improve defensively from where they were last year. The team was number one in the league in scoring defense, giving up 17.7 points per game for the season. And with a strength of schedule ranked fifth most difficult in the NFL based on last year’s performances, the Bears will need their defense to buckle down more than ever to keep the team near the top of the NFL standings.
Fortunately for Bears fans, the team has an anchor on the defensive end now in Mack, who is leading by example this offseason. If he can continue to spread positive habits throughout the locker room, there is no reason that the Bears can’t overcome their tough schedule to be champions in 2019.