The Chicago Bears have done a strong job this offseason. They said they wanted to create more competition throughout their roster and this was accomplished. There isn’t a single position of note that isn’t up for grabs in some form or fashion. Be it a starting job or a key backup spot. Every area will see a battle take place. Competition is never a bad thing and the Bears are hoping it will prepare them for an important 2020 season.
So the question becomes which position battles stick out the most? Which could decide the possible direction of this season? After some evaluation, five stuck out. Each for particular reasons. This article will break them down and decide who the most likely winner of each is. Will there be any notable surprises? That is always possible. Health and training camp performance will always tell the stories.
Chicago Bears position battles don’t lack for intrigue this year
Quarterback: Mitch Trubisky vs. Nick Foles
This is the battle everybody is going to tune in for. Chicago hasn’t seen a true quarterback competition in a long time. Not since Erik Kramer and Steve Walsh were brought in to duke it out back in 1994. Mitch Trubisky had such promise going into last season but went through some truly ugly stretches. Just watch the first halves against Philadelphia and New Orleans and one might struggle to avoid throwing up. This is why the team moved to trade for Nick Foles. Despite his rough year in Jacksonville that saw him break his collarbone and lose his starting job to Gardner Minshew, he’s still a former Super Bowl MVP who’s done a lot of great things in this offensive system.
A lot of people believe Trubisky will still get one last chance, at least to start the season. However, all the signs point towards Foles being the ultimate victor. Chicago revamped the tight end position, one that Foles loves to utilize. The revamped coaching staff is loaded with guys who know the veteran well. Also unlike the Ryan Tannehill situation in Tennessee which this is often compared to, this is an open competition from the start. Given how poorly Trubisky performed in training camp last year, it doesn’t feel like he’ll be able to hold onto his spot for two months.
Right Guard: Germain Ifedi vs. Rashaad Coward vs. Alex Bars
The retirement of Kyle Long is both sad and significant. It opens up a significant void at right guard that won’t be easy to fill. Thus far this offseason, the Bears haven’t exactly been aggressive in their attempts to fill it. Their only notable addition is former Seahawks tackle Germain Ifedi. They plan on switching him to guard. It seems he’ll be competing with Rashaad Coward, who replaced Long last season, and former undrafted free agent Alex Bars. Not exactly a lineup that conjures a lot of optimism. Especially given how inadequate the offensive blocking was last season.
It’s clear the Bears are putting a lot of faith in new offensive line coach Juan Castillo. He does have a history of managing situations that look less than ideal on paper. Right now it feels like the Bears think they got something in Ifedi. He’s still young and has plenty of starting experience. Draft experts always said the former 1st round pick was a better fit at guard. Something the Seahawks ignored. Unless a late addition is made to the depth chart, he should end up getting the nod.
Cornerback: Jaylon Johnson vs. Kevin Toliver vs. Tre Roberson
The exit of Prince Amukamara wasn’t a big surprise this offseason. His play showed a noticeable decline in 2019 and his contract had become a burden on the Bears’ salary cap. So they decided to part ways. While a necessary move, it opened up a void at cornerback opposite Kyle Fuller. Pace began the offseason by signing CFL star Tre Roberson. Then he drafted Utah standout Jaylon Johnson in the 2nd round. Together with backup Kevin Toliver, the Bears have put together an intriguing three-man race.
In this situation, it’s always important to follow the investments. Roberson was signed to a fairly cheap contract by NFL standards. He’ll make the roster. Toliver didn’t show too much when he got opportunities to play last season. The buzz around Johnson has been real and consistent. He’s a player. Exactly what this defensive scheme demands. To say nothing of his swagger and competitive streak. He doesn’t come across as the sort who will be kept off the field.
Safety: Tashaun Gipson vs. Deon Bush
Through March and April, it looked like the Bears were content with Deon Bush as their next starting safety opposite Eddie Jackson. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had moved on to Dallas. There was logical sense in the idea. Bush is a more natural strong safety who could play down in the box, allowing Jackson to stay back in deep coverage where he’s at his most dangerous. However, that idea took a detour right after the draft when the Bears reached a one-year deal with veteran and former Pro Bowler Tashaun Gipson.
The reality is Gipson just has experience on his side. He had a solid season in 2019 for the Houston Texans with three interceptions. He’s played on some good defenses in his career and understands what his role will be next to Jackson. The potential upside of pairing those two together with their ballhawking skills is just too good to pass up. Bush is much better in his role as the #3 guy who can step in for either if necessary. Similar to what Nick Kwiatkoski was for them at inside linebacker.
Kicker: Eddy Pineiro vs. Ramiz Ahmed
Plenty of people are probably overlooking this given what else has happened on the roster. The Bears traded for Eddy Pineiro last season and he had strong stretches. However, he also struggled in a number of spots. While the team has remained steadfast in their belief that he has a bright future, they have no plans to make it easy on him. That is why they signed Ramiz Ahmed. He had a decent career at Nevada and apparently stuck out at a kicking camp attended by special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
This feels less like a true competition and more of a reminder by the Bears to Pineiro that they’re watching. He best not get too comfortable. There is a lot left to do before he can start feeling secure in his position. Pineiro is a competitor and should respond to this well with a strong camp. He’d have to fall considerably off the cliff for Ahmed to have a legitimate shot at actually winning the job. Then again crazier things have happened.