Winning a Super Bowl comes down to how many answers a team can provide. The Chicago Bears questions list isn’t as extensive as its been in the past. That is a big key to why they are viewed as a team that can contend in 2019. Their roster is young, deep, and loaded up with players who love to work. Expectations are high for this group.
Even so, this team isn’t perfect. They have lingering issues that have yet to be addressed. Questions that have hounded them since the end of last season. Ones that must be answered if they wish to take the next step. So what are they? That is what this breakdown will look to explore.
Naturally it starts with the only remaining elephant in the room.
All Chicago Bears questions must start with who will be the kicker?
When your season ends with a kicker missing a makeable field goal in relatively calm conditions at home? It’s clear changes are needed at the position. Cody Parkey was sent packing. Now the Bears are in the midst of conducting a large kicking competition. Three names remain alive with OTAs about to begin. Who will survive?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that whoever wins the job end up being more reliable than Parkey was. He missed 11 kicks in 2018. Two of them directly cost the Bears victories. Even if the next guy could cut that in half, it would be considered a victory. That shouldn’t be a huge problem for these guys. It’s what they get paid to do, right? Right?
Does Mitch Trubisky take the next step?
One of the problems the Bears always had during the Jay Cutler era was their inability to maintain a consistent offensive system around him. He never played for the same offensive coordinator for more than two years. Mike Martz and Marc Trestman each had two and the rest were one-and-done. Is it a coincidence he had arguably his best runs during those periods?
That is why optimism is high for Mitch Trubisky. He’ll be entering the second year in Nagy’s complicated offense. This is usually where the quarterback doesn’t have to think as much and can begin to refine the smaller details of an offense. This results in them playing faster. Trubisky showed signs of progress last year, but he has to take it up another notch.
Is David Montgomery an upgrade over Jordan Howard?
Trading Jordan Howard was a necessity in the minds of the Bears top brass. Money considerations combined with his questionable fit in the Nagy offense made it almost inevitable. The head coach wanted a back who could offer more in terms of creating matchups on the field. As good a runner as Howard can be, he has limitations beyond that.
This is why the team traded up for Iowa State’s David Montgomery in the draft. They feel he has the same hard-running traits of Howard but with the addition of soft hands and route running skill needed to be a threat in the passing game. The logic is there. Still, there is just no predicting how Montgomery will respond once he’s on the field.
Can the defense keep dominating with Chuck Pagano?
The Bears defense was the best in the NFL last year. They led the league in takeaways and points allowed. With all but two starters back from last year, expectations are they should continue along that same line of excellence. There is one problem though. The man who conducted that 2018 run is gone. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio departed to become the head coach in Denver.
Now the job belongs to Chuck Pagano. The good news is he is an experienced and proven coach who had success in the brief time he was a coordinator back in 2011. Still, it’s hard to predict how the players will react to his changes as a schemer and play caller. Things should be okay, but nothing is guaranteed.
Will they finally get past Philadelphia?
The Bears have not beaten the Eagles since 2011. They were crushed in their two meetings between 2013 and 2017 by a combined score of 85 to 14. Then came the results last season, losing at home in heartbreaking fashion 16-15. It’s clear Chicago has closed the gap in terms of talent on the field, but they still haven’t been able to prove it on the scoreboard.
Make no mistake. Philadelphia isn’t going anywhere. They should remain one of the biggest obstacles in the NFC for the foreseeable future. If the Bears want to be champions, that is one of the teams they must learn to beat. They’ll have another opportunity this season.