It seems like a lifetime ago that the Bears were considered one of the favorites to represent in the NFC in the Super Bowl. But it wasn’t a lifetime ago; it was just last season.
Yet, here we are. The narrative around the Bears entering 2020 is that they’re more likely to be one of the first five picks of the 2021 NFL draft than they are a playoff contender.
Much of the concern around this team is at quarterback, where Chicago has yet to identify its starter. The competitors, former second overall pick, Mitch Trubisky, and past Super Bowl winner, Nick Foles, don’t profile as franchise quarterbacks at this point in their careers. Still, how many teams can legitimately say they have a guy like that leading their offense?
What the Bears do have is the equivalent of a franchise-changing player on the defensive side of the ball with Khalil Mack. Additionally, Eddie Jackson is considered one of the best — if not the best — safeties in the game. He’s certainly being paid as such. The defense is an all-around powerhouse that should be more than capable of leading this team to its fair share of wins.
But, again, this is an offseason that’s all about bashing the Bears. It continued on ESPN, which completed their ranking of every roster in the NFL. Chicago checked-in near the bottom of the league at No. 21.
With the return of Akiem Hicks from injury and the upgrade from Leonard Floyd to Robert Quinn at the edge defender spot opposite Khalil Mack, the Bears should have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Even in a down year by his standards in 2019, Mack still earned an overall grade of 86.2. Dating to his second season in 2015, he has graded above 80.0 as both a run defender and pass-rusher in every season. That makes him the focus for offensive lines, but there aren’t a whole lot of places to hide when facing Chicago.
That’s the good news. The bad news?
Chicago finished the 2019 season ranked 25th in PFF’s end-of-year offensive line rankings after a year that saw it allow pressure in 2.37 seconds on average — 29th in the NFL ahead of only the Dolphins, Chargers and Falcons. Offseason acquisition Germain Ifedi is projected to move from tackle to guard in the starting lineup, but he has yet to crack an overall grade of 60.0 across four years as first the starting right guard and then the right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.
According to ESPN, Foles will be the Bears’ X-Factor. But is he? If you’ve been paying attention to what Bears players have been saying this offseason, it seems pretty clear that the locker room is in Trubisky’s corner. It would be best for this team if Trubisky plays up to his scouting report, one that suggested he’d be a Drew Brees-like quarterback. His physical talent is undisputed, and the fact he’s taking charge with voluntary private workouts has his arrow pointing in the right direction. And if he takes hold of his talent and uses that locker room confidence to propel his play to the next level, he will be the X-factor that returns Chicago back into contender status.
Bears’ roster ranked among NFL’s worst originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago