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32 Teams/32 Days: Day 2: The Chicago Bears
2018.02.11 16:09 emperos32 Teams/32 Days: Day 2: The Chicago Bears
Team: Chicago Bears
Division: NFC North Record: 5-11 (0-6 Division), 4th place NFC North Playoffs:mumblemumble 1985 best year of my life mumble Most reviews are so in-depth that it can take you a good few hours to read through everything from the details of Week 6 to the intricacies of OL depth. For those who don't have that kind of time, the top-level post is designed to be a higher-level, quicker read.For those of you who want to read everything about where John Timu belongs on the depth chart and what happened with Tre McBride after Week 12,more in-depth discussion can be found in the comments linked to the relevant sections of the main post.
General Season Review
A larger look at the past few years of Bears news - a sort of primer for "how did we get here?" - can be found here. Coming off of a 3-13 season riddled with injuries (2016 season summary here), the Bears were looking for a bounce-back season that showed progress and promise for the future. They took steps in that direction with a risky offseason (summary here) that saw a large number of unproven players make their way to Chicago. At the beginning of the season, there were many more question marks around the roster than there were solid answers. What was known to be a tough start to the schedule going in (3 of the 2016 conference championship teams in the first 4 weeks) ended up being tough all year long - most difficult in the league, featuring 7 games against playoff teams, including virtually the entire NFC playoff field. With the preseason expectation of 6-7 wins, Chicago pulled off some upsets - Pittsburgh and Carolina, most notably - but also lost winnable games in embarrassing fashion (Tampa Bay, Green Bay with Hundley, San Francisco). The stats tell a tale of a middle-of-the-road team in nearly every category but one - an absolutely atrocious passing game. With the departure of both Cutler and Jeffery, the job fell to Mike Glennon and rookie Mitch Trubisky, throwing to Kendall Wright and practice squad receivers. When they were able to establish the running attack, play mistake-free on offense, and hold opponents in check on defense, the Bears were able to put up their best results of the season. Over the course of the year, the Bears showed development and played more as a unit. That didn't prevent the games from being wildly inconsistent - the final seven games featured a blowout loss, two blowout wins, two losses by a couple scores each, and two last-play losses. In the end, a 5-11 record was not enough for HC John Fox to earn another year, so he was fired and the organization hired Matt Nagy as the 16th head coach in franchise history. Nagy's hires for the coaching staff have kicked off what has already been an exciting offseason. That staff's largest tasks will be forging a passing game that approaches respectability and leading the team to consistent results in 2018.
New Player Additions:
Round 1, Pick 2:Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina It's been somewhat up and down, but it's clear the ability is there and he is improving every week. As the season progressed, he developed better timing and showed talent that should be enticing for the new coaching staff.
Round 2, Pick 13 (No. 45):Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland At 6'6" and 270 lbs, Shaheen has the frame to build on, but it's clear that the step from Ashland University to the NFL is quite large. He has flashed the capability to be a good receiving threat, but has struggled with blocking and learning everything that goes into the position, since he can no longer rely on pure athleticism to get the job done.
Round 4, Pick 5 (No. 112):Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama He started all sixteen games, and has shown incredible playmaking ability - he had a 76-yd INT return TD and a 75-yd fumble recovery TD in the same game Week 7, almost singlehandedly defeating Carolina.
Round 4, Pick 13 (No. 119):Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T"The Human Joystick" has been effective everywhere he has lined up - at KR, at PR, at RB, at WR... even as a passer. It's clear the Bears have something special, although he still has a propensity to lose yards in an attempt to hit a home run every play.
Round 5, Pick 3 (No. 147):Jordan Morgan, G, Kutztown Another D-II player, Morgan was placed on IR to start the season, after a mediocre showing in the preseason. Really nothing to judge him off of just yet.
Mike Glennon, QB: Pace handed Mike Glennon $15M/yr to be the Bears' starting QB, saying that he saw potential if given a chance. Nobody is sure what potential he saw, since Glennon ended Week 4 having racked up 833yds, 4TDs, and 8 turnovers, while progressing slowly through reads and standing statuesque in the pocket.
Dion Sims, TE: A primarily blocking TE, he was signed from Miami to complement Zach Miller. He was a decent receiving threat in addition to his passable blocking, but wasn't a player that set the world on fire. Ended the year with 15 rec for 180 yds and 1 TD.
Prince Amukamara, CB: Brought in to fill the spot vacated by Tracy Porter, he was a minor upgrade that didn't get frequently burned, but also didn't create many plays.
Kendall Wright, WR: Wright turned out to be the best WR the Bears had this year, leading the team with 614 yds receiving. He was the only WR consistently able to create separation and make contested catches.
Other new free agents:
Markus Wheaton, WR
Quintin Demps, S
Marcus Cooper, CB
Benny Cunningham, RB
Mark Sanchez, QB
Tom Compton, T
John Jenkins, DT
Dontrelle Inman, WR: Acquired Week 8 from the Chargers, he provided a moderate boost to an incredibly underwhelming WR corps over the second half of the season.
Week 1, vs. Atlanta: Against the defending NFC Champs, the Bears surprised with a very competitive game. Tarik Cohen, in his first game, ripped off 113 yards of total offense, including an electric 46-yard run and a TD. The defense held the Falcons to 2.8 YPC, but surrendered over 300 through the air. With a chance to win at the end, three consecutive drops at the goal line doomed the effort. LOSS, 17-23 Week 2, @ Tampa Bay: Glennon looked awful against his former team, throwing 2 INT and losing a fumble. Tarik Cohen made a terrible decision and lost a fumble on PR duty. The Bears were shut out until 1:43 left in the 4th. LOSS, 7-29 Week 3, vs. Pittsburgh: In possibly the biggest upset of the year, the Bears beat the Steelers in an overtime thriller! The keys were letting Cohen light it up and riding Howard hard while minimizing Glennon's role. Even so, Marcus Cooper nearly blew it by turning in the dumbest play of the year. WIN, 23-17 Week 4, @ Green Bay: After the best game of the season... one of the worst, and in primetime. The Bears' first play was a sack-fumble, the first of four turnovers Glennon would provide. After that, the Packers never had less than a 90% chance to win the game, and it was clear the Bears were just trying to get out of the building, running the four-minute offense for the entire fourth quarter. LOSS, 14-35 Week 5, vs. Minnesota: Vikings QB Sam Bradford came back from injury, and the defense chased him to a statline of 5/11, 36 yards and four sacks - one for a safety. The offense, however, couldn't exploit that weakness, punting in Vikings territory four times in the first 17 minutes. With a chance to lead a comeback game-winning drive with 2:32 left in his first start, in primetime, against a top defense, Trubisky promptly threw a pick on the first play. LOSS, 17-20 Week 6, @ Baltimore: The defense limited the Ravents to 9 points and forced three turnovers, including a 90-yard INT TD. The offense ran for 231 yards, and Trubisky threw no INTs. Special teams allowed both a punt return TD and a kick return TD, but Howard saved the day with a 53-yard run in OT to set up the win. WIN, 27-24 Week 7, vs. Carolina: The offense couldn't sustain a drive, running only 38 plays. Luckily, the defense was incrediblystalwart this game, limiting the Panthers to 3 points in nearly 40 minutes of possession. Eddie Jackson racked up 151 yards and two TDs on an INT and a fumble recovery. WIN, 17-3. Week 8, @ New Orleans: The defense held New Orleans to 20 points, but missed opportunities doomed the Bears to another loss. Trubisky ran for 53 yards, showing some excellent awareness, but threw a game-sealing INT with 1:22 left. Zach Miller obliterated his knee on a reception that didn't end up counting. LOSS, 12-20 Week 9, Bye Week Week 10, vs. Green Bay: In an era marred by confusing losses, this week 10 debacle stands alone. Led by Brett Hundley, the Packers strolled into Soldier Field and walked out with a win, an outcome that no one expected. The Bears offense was confusing at best, and the usually solid defense suffered an uncharacteristically poor performance. This game serves as a nice exhibit of why John Fox got himself fired. LOSS, 16-23 Week 11, vs. Detroit: The rushing attack was very effective, especially in the first half; Howard/Cohen/Trubisky ended with 222 yds on 30 rushes. They led the Bears' offense to 20 points in regulation for the first time in 10 games. Connor Barth had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but... LOSS, 24-27 Week 12, @ Philadelphia: They got blown out in a game that was never close. The Eagles were doing the Electric Slide and playing tic-tac-toe on the sideline. Going home, the team jet broke down on the tarmac. Rotting sushi was left out at Halas Hall and smelled horrible when they returned. LOSS, 3-31 Week 13, vs. San Francisco: The Bears ran 36 plays, least in a game since 2009; the 49ers broke their season record for possession time early in the 3rd quarter. In six "drives", one hit field goal range, and there were only eight first downs all game. Tarik Cohen got a PR TD, but former Bear Robbie Gould kicked 5 FG to win. LOSS, 14-15 Week 14, @ Cincinnati: Just like that, a miracle happened. The Bears actually looked good. The offensive scheme allowed Cohen, Howard, and the gang to have a field day, putting up 482 yards. The defense did equally well, forcing two turnovers and limiting the Bengals to 21 minutes of possession. The Bears had their first 100-yard receiver of the season. WIN, 33-7 Week 15, @ Detroit: Trubisky passed the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career, but threw 3 INTs as the Bears looked incapable of doing anything threatening. The defense sacked Stafford four times, limited the Lions to 20 points, and held them under 100 yards rushing, but lost a deep 50/50 ball. The biggest Bears play of the day, a long Cohen PR, was called back on a penalty. LOSS, 10-20 Week 16, vs. Cleveland: Christmas Eve - the only day of the year Hue Jackson is undefeated as a coach, but the Bears have a terrible record when favorites. Luckily, it was another complete effort by the Bears, who won the turnover battle 3-0 and came away with a win. WIN, 20-3 Week 17, @ Minnesota: John Fox's departure had all been confirmed and the Vikings were simply trying to get a better seed in the playoff picture. While the Bears were trying to establish some sort of momentum going into the next season, it was clear the Vikings were the better team all around and the game got ugly for Bears fans quickly. LOSS, 10-23
picks will change once compensatory picks are announced
2018 Cap Space: $42,025,379.
On Their Way Out:
Mike Glennon,QB: Poor performance and the improvement of Trubisky mean he's far too expensive for a backup. $11.5M savings.
Jerrell Freeman, ILB: Potentially career-ending concussion, plus busted twice for PEDs as a team captain. $3.5M savings.
Marcus Cooper, CB: Decent depth, but probably won't see the playing time his contract would suggest. $4.5M savings.
Quintin Demps, S: Again, decent depth but Amos/Jackson played well enough that he is overpaid for a backup role. $2.36M savings.
Pernell McPhee, OLB (?): A veteran leader though the worst of the losing, his knees are really giving out on him and he's little more than a rotational player. $6.1M savings
Willie Young, OLB (?): He's 33 and missed 12 games this past year, but has shown good productivity in years past. Rumor has it he no longer has a locker at Halas Hall. $4.5M savings
Josh Sitton, LG (?): At 31, he was injured on and off this season. Although a former Pro Bowl talent, he doesn't necessarily merit a top-5 priciest contract for the Bears. $7.9M savings, probable to return
Cap space after probable cuts: $74,001,933
Key Upcoming Free Agents:
Kendall Wright, WR: As the receiving yardage leader for the team, there is no better option for the Bears in the WR3 position, and Wright has also been a locker room leader for the young WR group. He deserves a longer contract in line with his production this year.
Cameron Meredith, WR: Meredith led the Bears in receiving in 2016, and was expected to be the WR1 this year before a torn ACL. At a position that is already bare, allowing a proven contributor to walk would be a terrible idea. With just over 1000 career yards, don't expect him to be paid as a true #1, but he deserves a contract that recognizes his play so far.
Kyle Fuller, CB: Fuller had an excellent rookie year, followed up by a disappointing sophomore season in 2015 and missed 2016 to injury. He had a resurgent 2017, cementing his role as a starting-level CB with upside. He can expect Pace to pay him as a top-25 corner.
Bryce Callahan, CB: Callahan has been rather poor as an outside CB, but has been far better in the slot. The nickel corner is becoming a more and more important position, and Callahan has improved as he has developed - coverage, run support, and blitzing. Signing him to a modest extension should be a no-brainer.
Sherrick McManis, CB: He hardly sees the field on defense, but he is an excellent special teamer. An extension would make a positive impact on ST, although a pay cut would probably be in order since he isn't a devensive contributor.
Pat O'Donnell, P: You don't usually see a punter listed as a key free agent, but O'Donnell has been consistently solid and comes off of a career year. Top-10 punters don't grow on trees; expect Pace to recognize this and extend O'Donnell for a long time.
Ryan Pace, GM: Newly extended through the 2021 season, he inherited a roster almost completely devoid of Bears draftees and turned it into a youthful team with a strong core. In the draft, he likes to take a high-ceiling athlete in the first round and try to develop him, a strategy that has yielded mixed results. He has consistently found gems in the later rounds. In free agency, he signs veterans to "prove it" one-year deals, then extends the players that do well; he takes multiple shots at positions of need. Matt Nagy, HC: The 39-year old OC for the Chiefs was the candidate Pace settled on, and by all accounts checked all of the boxes the Bears were looking for: young, offensive-minded, driven, charismatic, straight shooter, and has good character. He was very impressed with Trubisky during the Chiefs' draft process, and hopes to "expand his package" this upcoming season. Mark Helfrich, OC: He was instrumental in developing the "blur" offense at Oregon, producing several dual-threat quarterbacks, which will mesh with Nagy's ideas and Trubisky's skillset. He will be teaching and installing the offense instead of calling plays, as well as adding his flavor to the offense. Vic Fangio, DC: He's back in Chicago for another round. He oversaw the turnaround of the 30th-place defense in 2014 to a top-ten unit in 2017 - and did it without a single pro-bowler. His decision to sign an extension is great news for the development of his young talents, and the continuity of scheme should keep the defense a strong unit in 2018.
Nagy creates an exciting offense that utilizes the skill players to the best of their ability; Trubisky evolves into a gunslinger
Pace brings in playmakers that can create a difference in the passing game
Harry Hiestand creates an offensive line that dominates the competition, leading to an even stronger run game for Howard and Cohen
Fangio keeps the defense playing at a high level; the improved offense means the defense isn't on the field as much and plays more aggressively
Why we will have fewer fans next February:
Nagy's playcalling is concerning, leading to continued offensive dysfunction and a regression from Trubisky
Howard and Cohen are incapable of handling the full load of the offense for another season
The defense can't get pressure on the quarterback, and the secondary gets toasted on a regular basis
Injuries have been a huge problem for the past several years
It's hard to write about expectations for next year. There are so many unknowns: Will Trubisky continue to progress? How much? What will the offensive skill positions look like come Traning Camp? Will Matt Nagy and his offensive staff put together an exciting offense that plays to the strengths of the players, or will it be too much for him? That said, I think I speak for everyone when I say that another 5-6 win season would be a disappointment. There is the expectation that the defense will continue to do a good job and finish around the top 10; there is the expectation that the offense will build on its 30th-place finish and make some strides. This is definitely one of the NFL teams where there is plenty of hope for the future - problem is, there's precious little else to hang your hat on as a Bears fan. If 2018 doesn't change that, fans won't be happy. Big thanks to: skepticismissurvival, for coordinating all of our dumb assesChiefBearClaw and the redditors in this thread, for matchmaking team needsnameless3000, for Week 10 and Week 17 game reviews and in-depth coaching hire breakdowns
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