Written by: John Stocco
It’s here. The day Bears fans, myself included, have been waiting for since Cody Parkey missed that kick in the playoffs. It’s the beginning of the NFL’s 100th season, and the Bears have the honor of beginning this historic season against the rival Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. The Bears have been getting stepped on and were made a joke of this entire offseason, and quite frankly, it’s pissed me off. I’m tired of the GIFs, I’m the memes, the stupid jokes, Aaron Rodgers’ face, the Vikings, all of it. The Bears have an elite defense, a young franchise quarterback, and they’re loaded with weapons. Let’s forget all that because everyone thinks the Bears are going to regress. I don’t. Not even for a second. These are the five players that need big seasons to not only beat Green Bay but to reclaim the NFC North Title.
1, Mitch Trubisky: It’s been talked about for months, and come Week One, the entire world will see the development Mitch Trubisky has made this offseason. We need to see a leader out on that field that not only controls the offense, but controls the tempo and does the little things right. Some people get too caught up with how Trubisky can’t throw deep down the field, or even funnier, how he can’t throw left. I love that on Twitter. Trubisky has to focus on doing the little things right 99% of the time. There were times last year where he missed an easy throw that could’ve changed the momentum of the game. Being better at doing the little things will make Trubisky a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, and should he find himself in that discussion, there isn’t a team in the NFC North that can compete with the Bears.
2, David Montgomery: Being a running back for the Bears is like being a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers; it’s a big deal. Montgomery needs to be the guy that comes out and forces Nagy to give him most of the reps at running back. Last year Jordan Howard was a non-factor, and Tarik Cohen was more useful in the passing game. Trubisky was given a lot of responsibility in a new offense to carry the entire load, so Montgomery needs to be Trubisky’s safety blanket while doubling as the workhorse on the offense. Trubisky isn’t going to be perfect, and Montgomery needs those days where he tells Matt Nagy “feed me the ball, I’m putting the weight of the world on my shoulders.” Without a consistent running game last year, the Bears looked lost at times’ with both coming from Montgomery, the Bears will possess an equal balance of attack to keep the defense guessing.
3, Adam Shaheen: If you’ve read any of my tweets the past couple of weeks, you’d know I’m no fan of the Bears tight end group. Trey Burton just can’t stay healthy, and the rest of the group is below average. This is a make-or-break year for Adam Shaheen. Ryan Pace stuck his neck out drafting a tight end out of Ashland College in the second round. You could give me a million dollars and I still wouldn’t be able to guess where Ashland College is. I’m not saying Shaheen has to be “Baby Gronk” all Shaheen has to do is follow his assignments and stay healthy. Don’t blow your assignments, stick with your blocks, and be a dependable receiving option in traffic on third and short. Shaheen does that then the Bears problem at tight end diminishes.
4, Leonard Floyd: Leonard Floyd is playing for a contract. This is big because Ryan Pace has shown before that if he likes you, then he’s willing to reward you the contract you deserve. Conversely, if he doesn’t think you’re worth it, then he’s not afraid to show you the door. Leonard Floyd played fine football last season. Under new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, he’s going to be expected to attack and pressure the quarterback more. If Floyd gets to the quarterback more, it leaves more opportunities for Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Bilal Nicols on the defensive front getting after the quarterback. Leonard Floyd is playing for that second contract every football player dreams of getting. A big year from Floyd means big things for his and Chicago’s future.
5, Eddy Pineiro: We know this story. Our season died because of our kicker. The kicker is the most valued position because we never want to feel that pain again. Eddy is our guy, and the entire city of Chicago is resting on his leg. I genuinely believed that Cody Parkey cost us a chance at a Super Bowl last season, and I also believe the Bears are a kicker away from being a team that can legitimately win the Lombardi again. A big year from Pineiro not only completes this team, but it gives us a better chance of being a team that could play and win the Super Bowl.
The Founding Fathers of the NFL and one of the best rivalries in sports come together on Thursday night. If you think I’m feeling disrespected by the media, and football fans across the world, how do you think the Bears feel? Get your popcorn ready.