With an 8-8 record in 2019, the Chicago Bears missed the playoffs but put up a remarkable showing on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears managed to hold teams to a mere 298 points against, but the offense could only muster 280 points for Chicago.
The organization has made some quite important moves over the offseason, but have the Bears done enough not just to make the team two-dimensional, but also good enough to climb up from their .500 of last season?
A menacing defense
Although the unit didn’t put up too many big-time takeaways, the Bears defense was sturdy and stifling throughout the season. Only on five occasions did they allow more than 21 points, holding opponents to 14 or fewer points on five other occasions.
The Bears finished with the fourth-fewest points against per game (18.63), the ninth-fewest rushing yards against per game (102.00), and the ninth-fewest passing yards against per game (222.13).
The 16 rushing touchdowns allowed placed the Bears as the seventh-worst, but teams didn’t have much of a choice, with Chicago sitting with the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns against at 17.
Better still, the unit wasn’t at full strength for much of the season. In 2018, Akiem Hicks put up career-best numbers, looking to follow suit in 2019 before injuries ousted his campaign. Now, there’s the absurdly dangerous Khalil Mack and Hicks, with Robert Quinn joining in the action at outside linebacker.
Quinn was one of the Bears’ biggest signings of the offseason. While the Chicago Tribune reports that he’s being eased back to full speed, he should prove to be a threat that’s substantial enough to keep offensive lines honest when squaring up to try to stop Mack.
The Bears were as stout as they come last season, but were somewhat devoid of big playmakers in the secondary. Kyle Fuller hawked two interceptions, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix sealed a touchdown from one of his two picks. So, they brought in Tashaun Gipson on a one-year deal, who has 23 interceptions, three touchdowns, and 450 combined tackles, as shown by NBC Sports.
There’s no doubt that this enhanced defensive outfit will be the star of the show for Chicago again this season, but will there be enough on the other side of the ball to help pull the team up from mediocrity?
Unconvincing moves on offense
The Chicago Bears defense looks so menacing that the team is in polite consideration to contend for the NFC North and even make the playoffs. The football betting on Space Casino has the Bears at +375 to win the division, behind the +180 Packers and Vikings. They’re also at +160 to get into the postseason.
With the defense as a solid baseline and having the power to keep the Bears in the game, it’s up to the offense to step-up. During the offseason, veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, highly-rated tight end draftee Cole Kmet, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr, and Nick Foles joined the fray.
The focus is on if Foles can push Mitchell Trubisky enough for the 25-year-old to recover from a gargantuan slump in 2019, which saw him throw for 17 touchdowns, ten interceptions, and hold a QB rating of 83.0 from 15 starts. If Trubisky fails to ramp-up his game, the Bears will turn to a noted super-sub as their starting QB.
While the offensive moves weren’t substantial in any regard, the Bears should be looking at their 16-game slate as a winning schedule.
Opening games against the Lions, Giants, and Falcons should bring the winning feeling to the team, with future match-ups against the Panthers, Lions, Texans, and Jaguars being targeted as chances to get the W.
The defense will be strong enough to keep some of the better teams within touching distance on the scoreboard; it’ll just be up to Foles or Trubisky to put the plays together.
Many are predicting the Bears to fall to a 7-9 record this season, but with a bit of luck on offense, a 9-7 record certainly isn’t out of reach.