The start of the NFL season is just two weeks away but the Chicago Bears have created more questions than answers. At least, that is how it appears from the outside looking in. Perhaps those in the building, coaches and players, have it all sorted. But fans and even the media are still wondering out loud about a few things. From health to performance, the unknown has been the name of the game in Chicago.
More Questions Than Answers for the Chicago Bears
The Big One
It didn’t take a much to figure out the biggest storyline for the Bears heading into the 2020-21 season would be the quarterback situation. Anyone with eyes could see it coming. Then the Bears declined Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option, traded for Nick Foles, and flat-out acknowledged there would be a battle. What were smoke signals became a raging inferno.
So, all summer long the anticipation has been brewing but hopes have been dashed. Media coverage of training camp has been scaled back tremendously but even the vague descriptions we have gotten aren’t encouraging.
Cordarrelle Patterson said that Mitch Trubisky "has been having a great camp."
Patterson: "Nick came in and it made Mitch feel like he needed to step up and do what he needed to do on the football field. Mitch has been doing what he is supposed to do."
(Via Bears FB Live)
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) August 31, 2020
The prevailing sentiment is that neither passer has been able to separate himself from the other. But the “Bears just need a game manager” folks will say just that and live with it. The rest will be legitimately concerned that neither will be able to keep the train on the rails. That worry comes two-fold. Will the defense, expected remain stout for at least another year, keep the team more competitive than the “should” be.
If that ends up being the case (more on that later), the Bears could find themselves in the middle of the draft order and potentially missing out on a premier franchise quarterback prospect. Not that picking early has helped them to this point.
The Underreported One
Defense is more volatile year to year than offense. For Bears fans, this might read like a foreign language. Every year it’s a feisty defense carrying a lethargic (in good years) offense. The Bears have had a top-10 scoring defense eight times since 2000. They were top-10 in yards allowed seven times in that same span. They’ve only had a top-10 scoring offense three times and were top-10 in yards just once.
This year, though, they enter with some potential cracks in the foundation. First, they have open competitions at cornerback and safety. The corner spot across from Kyle Fuller wasn’t great with Prince Amukamara (a free agent again) but now has legitimate questions of whether Kevin Toliver or second-round rookie Jaylon Johnson can claim his rightful spot.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 28, 2020
Safety has been an issue since Adrian Amos left last off-season. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has an ok year in Chicago, but he didn’t fit well next to All-Pro Eddie Jackson. Now, Tashaun Gipson and Deon Bush are battling it out. Neither inspires much enthusiasm right now.
The front seven has issues of its own, namely depth. The starters are impressive. Khalil Mack should finally have a proper running mate in Robert Quinn. Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are solid in the middle at the second level. And Akiem Hicks returns to pair with Bilal Nichols to form a solid line, even in the absence of nose tackle Eddie Goldman. But if any of those guys go down, it could be curtains for this unit.
The New One
Questions about the Bears running game have centered around usage more than personnel. And if it did, it’s been about the blocking upfront. That is until second-year man David Montgomery went down with a groin injury. Initial reports had the team fearing something more severe so this was a favorable outcome.
Still, with the possibility of Montgomery missing time, the Bears have a decision to make. Do they try to scrape by the first couple of weeks (that many will tell you will extend) with what they have on the roster or try to kick the tires on a couple of big names on the market?
Odds for what team Leonard Fournette will play for next (Bovada):
— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) August 31, 2020
The first option is the most cost-effective. Chicago could make do with Tarik Cohen and the newly-converted Cordarelle Patterson. Or they could turn to unproven Ryan Nall or undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce. Feeling inspired yet? Didn’t think so.
Free agency might be the best option. Devonta Freeman is still looking for work. Though, even if cap space isn’t an issue for the Bears, reports are that he turned down what should be a near-ceiling offer for him from the Seattle Seahawks already. Leonard Fournette was cut on Monday, but with his health and character concerns is that an avenue they should explore?
New Questions Outpacing Answers for Bears
We didn’t even touch on the offensive line, or whether Anthony Miller can finally be the reliable second option to Allen Robinson, or what to make of the kicking situation. For a front office that needs to show they are going in the right direction, Chicago’s new questions are outpacing their answers. That doesn’t bode well in a make-or-break season.
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