We’re about two weeks away from training camps starting up around the NFL. That means we’ll be watching intently as the Chicago Bears head down to Bourbonnais, Ill. to get in shape for the upcoming year.
The Bears are coming off a 12-4 season, NFC North title, and a ton of emotional capital built up with the fanbase. But the sting of the double-doink ending their season against Philadelphia in the Wild Card round still hurts.
While the Bears have a lot figured out and set up for the 2019 season, some questions still remain. Can Mitch Trubisky take the next step? Who is the kicker? How will the defense change under Chuck Pagano?
We may start to see some of these answers in Bourbonnais. Can’t wait!
With that, let’s reach into our latest Bears Mailbag. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions!
We’ve been asking this question for years. I assume the motivation for your question is Brad Kelly’s roster ranking article for The Draft Network. For those unfamiliar, Kelly revealed his 17th through 24th best rosters yesterday and ranked the Chicago Bears 18th best in the NFL; in other words, a bottom-half roster in the league. He ranked it below the San Francisco 49ers. He actually asked this question on Twitter before revealing his rankings:
The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings had not yet been revealed in his rankings, so we can conclude that he views them as stronger rosters.
Here was my reaction to that article:
While the media narrative about the Bears has shifted since they defeated the Vikings and Los Angeles Rams last season, Kelly’s rankings are curious, to put it at its absolute mildest.
His argument centers around the QB. And I understand and agree (to an extent) with the skepticism of Mitch Trubisky. He just hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant complete buy-in. But he’s had stretches where he’s played brilliant football, and it’s certainly fair to believe he can make the leap in Year 3. But Trubisky is nowhere near bad enough, in his current state, to bring the entire team’s ranking down to 18. It’s mind-boggling how someone writing for a prestigious site can evaluate this roster that way.
For a roster that has a strong offensive line, a good mix of running backs and receivers, an elite defensive front, strong linebackers and a strong secondary that tore up opponents last season, even some ‘regression’ does not place this roster in the bottom half of the NFL. With the quarterback, it’s a Top 10 roster. Excluding the quarterback, it’s arguably Top 5.
We’ve seen skepticism and “not really that good” takes from rival NFC North blogging sites, and that’s not surprising. It’s the nature of the rivalry. But Kelly’s take is bad. Very bad. And all the Bears can do about it is continue to prove them wrong.
I really don’t see the Bears trading a lot for Robbie Gould. Keep in mind, San Francisco has the leverage here. They placed the franchise tag on him earlier in the offseason and if he doesn’t sign the tag, he loses out on a salary this season and can’t play for anyone else. Gould has been open about his desire to play closer to his family, who happen to reside in Chicago.
The Bears are arguably a made kick away from playing in the Super Bowl last season. And after releasing Cody Parkey, the competition in OTAs has turned up less than stellar results. After a mini competition saw eight kickers brought in, the Bears are left with Elliot Fry and Eddy Pineiro on their roster at the moment. The Bears will very likely add to the competition in training camp or during the preseason. They have to get this right.
But for a team with leverage like the 49ers, they can demand whatever they want for Gould. And I don’t see the Bears sacrificing a mid-round draft pick for him, even though it would absolutely be defensible. There is no move the Bears could make at kicker that would be better than adding Gould from a good-will / PR perspective. And probably from a football perspective. But it may require either San Francisco to accept something like a seventh-round pick or for them to rescind the tag altogether. Let’s see how it plays out.
Q: What’s your biggest concern going into camp? — Jason B.
I have two concerns as it relates to football: How much will Mitch Trubisky improve and who will kick (and are they any good?). I think those answers are paramount to the Bears’ success this season.
There are others such as how the scheme will differ with Chuck Pagano calling defensive plays instead of Vic Fangio. I think we know they will be much more aggressive with their coverages and rushes and may sacrifice more big plays from time to time in order to wreak havoc. But the Bears have fundamentally sound players on defense where they should be able to minimize those kinds of issues. Hopefully.
My ultimate concern though? Please, stay healthy. Far too often we see teams get crippled in training camp or the preseason because of a terrible injury to a key player. This team needs to stay healthy. They were granted good health last season and they played excellent football. Availability is just as important as ability.
So please, stay healthy.