The 2018 season was a breath of fresh air for fans of the Chicago Bears, although it did end with somewhat of a gut punch. Despite the disappointing culmination to the season, there is an undeniable buzz amongst the fan base at the moment.
The franchise is at a crossroads and could go one of two ways, either back to the depths of mediocrity or on an ascent to glory. Which way the franchise goes will depend on one thing, the off-season roster moves.
With a rough schedule to start the 2019 season, squad improvements are needed to pull the Bears over the line. Have the franchise’s decisions been good enough to push them on to the next level?
Retaining the star
Last season, The Bears traded away two of their first-round picks along with other selections to seal the signature of one of the best pass-rushing talents in the league – Khalil Mack. The 28-year-old was a great selection for daily fantasy football players during his competitive debut against the Green Bay Packers last season.
Mack became only the second player in NFL history to record a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and touchdown in the first half. Despite the Bears ultimately losing the game to the wizardry of Aaron Rodgers, it was a sign of things to come as Mack captained an indomitable Bears defense for the rest of the season.
Khalil Mack was one of the stand-out players for Chicago last year in what was a memorable season.
Defense was the name of the game for Chicago last season and whilst fans were happy with the solidity of their team, there were still concerns over the fluidity of the offense. Head coach Matt Nagy identified his offense as an area for improvement and is said to favor a committee approach for next season.
That’s what led him to trade Jordan Howard, sign Mike Davis and draft the hugely promising running back David Montgomery. The offensive backfield should operate on a rotational committee basis with Montgomery, Davis and Tarik Cohen all featured equally.
However there are signs that plan could all be part of a big ruse. Montgomery has been hailed by a series of experts as one of the brightest running back talents in the NFL, something which could force Nagy to make him the team’s main man.
Despite lacking in superstar pace, Montgomery has that hard to quantify ability of being incredibly elusive. Expect him to take on the majority of Chicago’s carries, contribute on protection and steal targets from Tarik Cohen.
David Montgomery is a rare commodity in the NFL, showing that blistering pace isn’t necessarily a key attribute of a supremely talented rushing back.
For fans new to the world of NFL, roster moves and club business can seem somewhat baffling, with Tommy Doles recent history encapsulating that. Doles was originally signed by the Bears on March 5th before being released 8 days later to make room for Jesper Horsted.
It was an injury to Jomon Dotson that forced The Bears to return to Tommy Doles and give him a second chance. The former Northwestern guard is unlikely to make a startling impact to the fortunes of the team, but he will add much needed depth.
After such a brief stint with The Bears back in March, Doles will be keen to grasp his second chance with both hands and could be a key back-up player.
The Bears have been on the look-out for a new kicker for some time now, and eyebrows were raised when they identified Eddy Pineiro as their main target back in May. The young kicker was traded from the Oakland Raiders, where he had a miserably short season due to an injury.
However, that shouldn’t be enough to put fans off the player as he undoubtedly has buckets of talent. In the 2016 and 2017 seasons Pineiro made 38 out of his 43 attempts, making 56 of 58 of all his extra points.
Pineiro also has that one quality that makes kickers successful, an innate self-confidence. Whilst at Florida he waltzed into the dressing room and demanded the number 15 jersey from Tim Tebow. That’s a move that takes guts, and it’s a sign that he has the mentality to go and be a success for Chicago if he manages to avoid injury.
If Pineiro manages to steer clear of major injuries, he could turn out to be one of The Bears key roster moves.
For football fans it’s always a worry when a 27-year-old player is referred to as a ‘veteran’, it makes you question your own age and life achievements. Despite being 3 years off 30, Pierre-Louis is a veteran in football terms, bringing a wealth of experience to Chicago.
A kicker had long been on top of the shopping list, so most Bears fans were taken by surprise when the club announced the signing of inside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. But with Danny Trevathan another year past his best, it is a savvy acquisition for the Chicago Bears.
Pierre-Louis’ best football came during spells with Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City, where he was coached by current Bears head honcho, Matt Nagy. During his career he has never been much of a starter, rather a reliable back-up when times are tough.
Nagy clearly sees something in the linebacker and believes that he can be called upon to fill in for injuries or provide the team with a different defensive make-up. Don’t expect Pierre-Louis to be a headline maker, rather a safe pair of hands and a consistent, willing and diligent performer.