The biggest Chicago Bears questions for 2018 are many. This is a team that hasn’t finished .500 in five years and hasn’t had a winning season in six. They haven’t made the playoffs going on eight. Suffice to say fans are starting to get a little anxious. They don’t wish to go down the road that teams like Cleveland or Buffalo experienced.
Prayers are high for them to take a big step forward this year. In order for that to happen things must go right for them both on and off the field. To that end, they must assess what the biggest question marks are for their team and find positive answers to as many as possible. If it were an easy task they’d have done it years ago.
Regardless here is a rundown of the biggest issues facing the Bears over the next several months.
Can Matt Nagy’s revamped staff elevate Mitch Trubisky?
This is the big one of course. Everybody is dying to know what new head coach Matt Nagy has in store for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The primary reason he was hired was his deep background of expertise at the position. That coupled with his prowess as a play caller in Kansas City gives people hope that Trubisky is finally in good hands. In the end, though they still have to play the games. There’s just no telling how the young QB will respond. It’s hard not to feel at least a little pessimistic given the Bears’ history at the position.
Which expensive veterans will get cut and which will survive?
The Bears don’t really have to worry about salary cap space going into free agency. They already are projected to have over $41 million. That’s plenty of spending money. That said this won’t stop them from purging part of the roster in order to clear out more. It’s most likely going to involve veterans who are either getting old or haven’t lived up to their current deals. Several names stand out including Mike Glennon, Josh Sitton. Markus Wheaton, Pernell McPhee, and Quintin Demps among others. Odds are at least a few of them won’t be Bears in the next couple months.
How healthy will Kyle Long be?
The Bears offensive line will be a gigantic key to their offensive success in 2018. The problem hasn’t been the talent for them the past two seasons. It’s been health. Kyle Long is the perfect example. Through his first three years, he didn’t miss a game and went to three Pro Bowls. In 2016 and 2017? He’s missed a combined 14 games with a multitude of injuries to his ankle, neck, and shoulder. This off-season gave him a chance to finally get long overdue surgeries to correct the problems. Now it’s a question of whether he recovers fully. If the Bears can get him back healthy, their offensive ambitions can take flight.
Is Ryan Pace prepared to tackle the wide receiver problem?
Every GM has a weak spot, a position they just can’t seem to figure out. It’s been true of even the best ones. Ryan Pace is no different. If one were to examine his body of work dating back to 2015, undoubtedly his kryptonite has been the wide receiver position. To date his acquisitions there have been, shall we say, uninspiring. Among the names included are Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson and Markus Wheaton. Not exactly a who’s who of standout names. Most of them have disappointed to this point. Pace is up against the wall to finally fix this persistent issue.
Will Kyle Fuller still be a Bear?
By far the most important pending free agent the Bears have in 2018 is cornerback Kyle Fuller. The former first round pick rebounded in a big way this past season. He was their most consistent and effective defensive back with two interceptions and 22 passes defended. It seems the light has finally turned on for him. Now it’s a matter of whether the Bears can lock him up to a new deal. Sides are reportedly talking but it’s unknown if an extension can be struck. The good news is Pace has the franchise tag in his back pocket.
Who will be the pick at #8 overall in the draft?
Barring a move down, the Bears will be using their fourth-straight top 10 picks in the NFL draft this coming April. That hasn’t happened since the 1970s. It represents a major opportunity to get another big difference-maker for the roster as it continues rebuilding. Thus far the team has had mixed results at this. Kevin White was a bust. Leonard Floyd is good provided he stays healthy. Trubisky has promise. If Pace can hit on this #8 overall pick, the team could finally start to turn the corner on the field. Problem is this pick position has proven tricky in the past. Since 2007, it has produced just one Pro Bowler.
Can the injury epidemic finally be curbed?
By far one of the largest issues that have plagued the Bears in recent years is health. Injuries ran amok on them both in 2016 and 2017. Combined between those two seasons a total of 40 players ended up on injured reserve alone. That’s not counting other missed games for various injuries. It’s hard to win in the NFL when a majority of your top players can’t stay on the field. That’s why the Bears fired their strength and conditioning staff. No doubt they intend to seek out somebody who can help with this problem.