Written by: John Stocco
The stories never end when you’re talking about the Chicago Bears. Which could be a great thing, or a terrible thing, but thankfully with Matt Nagy running the show in year two all signs are pointing up. No matter what John Fox says, the sky's the limit for the Bears in 2019, and we are soon entering Training Camp to kick off the biggest season the Chicago Bears have had in almost 34 years. I like the math on that. Let’s take a deep dive on some of the storylines heading into camp.
Mitch Trubisky’s Progress.
Something that’s being thrown out there by Bears fans recently is that Mitch Trubisky doesn’t have to be great, or Mitch Trubisky doesn’t have to be the best quarterback in team history to win a Super Bowl. I’m sorry, but that weak mentality has to be weeded out of this fan base. Now does Mitch Trubisky have to be a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Bears to win the Super Bowl again? Of course not. Would it help? I’d say so. No matter how elite the defense is great quarterbacks find a way to win championships. Trubisky is now in year two under Matt Nagy’s system. He knows the playbook, he knows the schemes, and he knows the personnel. From all reports coming from Halas Hall, the Bears are loving what they see from Mitch Trubisky. Using words like “confidence” and “obsessed” even Eddie Jackson called him the smooth criminal. I want to see Mitch Trubisky show that confidence in his execution, and show that obsession to not make the same mistake twice. I really believe we’re going to see a Mitch Trubisky that is an MVP candidate throughout the season.
Run D.M.C 2.0.
It didn’t even feel like the Bears had a running game last year. Tarik Cohen has carried the group the last two seasons. Cohen is someone who’s the ultimate playmaker on his feet and with his hands, and last year he was the only running back who seemed like he fit Nagy’s style perfectly. They tried with Jordan Howard, it failed. They tried making Taquan Mizzell a thing, it failed. Replacing them by adding Mike Davis and rookie of the year favorite David Montgomery makes the Bears offense even more dangerous. We saw Nagy use three running backs last season, now we get to see Nagy use three running backs who all fit his system. Davis, Montgomery, Cohen. Run D.M.C reunion in Chicago.
The Development of Anthony Miller.
Anthony Miller is another player who the Bears think highly on, as they should. The Bears traded up into the second round in the 2018 NFL draft to select Anthony Miller out of Memphis. In his rookie season, Miller recorded 33 receptions, 423 yards, and 7 touchdowns, all the while he was dealing with a shoulder injury. After the season he told the Chicago Tribune’s Colleen Kane, that he dislocated his shoulder “maybe five or six times.” I can’t even imagine how that feels. Allen Robinson is the number one target, but the Bears are looking for that clear cut number two, and Chicago is looking right at Anthony Miller to be that guy.
Make it or Break it Season for Adam Shaheen.
It’s been a pretty disappointing career so far for Shaheen. Even when the Bears drafted him in the second round out of Ashland people were skeptical. Adam Shaheen has all the tools. He’s 6’6, 269 pounds, and he should have more of an impact for the Bears. Coming from a small school we knew his rookie season wasn’t going to be anything special. He didn’t have the experience as some of the players from elite college football programs, and he was raw. Last year with a brand new system we thought Shaheen was destined for a breakout. Quickly afterward he started the 2019 season on the IR, with a foot/ankle injury. He came back from his injury and barely contributed to the team. At training camp, Shaheen is entering his third NFL season, we have to see improve as a blocker, and get more involved as a receiver.
Leonard Floyd’s Time to Shine.
If the Bears didn’t have Mitch Trubisky on their team, the biggest season for a player on the Bears is Leonard Floyd. Leonard Floyd has had a rocky career so far. He’s dealt with a few injuries, and what’s more concerning is a couple of those injuries were concussions, but when Floyd is 100% he’s just as good as any of the young edge rushers in football. Last year was the first time Floyd played 16 games. He recorded 4 sacks, 47 combined tackles, and 9 tackles for losses. Not those eye-popping stats you wanna see in an edge rusher you’re debating on extending, but with Chuck Pagano calling the shots now on defense we could see an increase in those numbers.
Chuck Pagano vs. Vic Fangio.
This is nothing against Vic Fangio. What he did for the Bears organization is something we should forever be grateful for, and I hope he has success in Denver (except for week 2). Chuck Pagano was hired to replace Fangio as the Bears defensive coordinator, and honestly, can you name a better job in the entire world? Pagano’s play-calling might actually make this defense better. Pagano is more aggressive, and he loves to hit the gas pedal whenever he puts pressure on the quarterback. We saw Fangio at times have Mack or Floyd drop back into coverage, but with Pagano, Mack and Floyd are going headhunting for quarterbacks. I mean, I could be calling the plays and this defense would still be elite, but I’m interested to see how this defense plays out with a new defensive coordinator calling the shots.
Will Buster Skrine and HaHa Clinton-Dix Improve the Defense?
We know what the Bears defense is going to be. Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson. With those guys on the team, the Bears are going to have an elite group on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears lost Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan in the offseason and replaced them with Buster Skrine, and HaHa Clinton-Dix. Can this defense actually improve? I’m not the biggest believer in Buster Skrine, but I am a believer in Clinton-Dix. Amos is a good player, but he lacked ball tracking skills. Amos in his career has only 3 interceptions. It’s one of the main reasons why Eddie Jackson has been such a standout. Now you add Clinton-Dix who has 14 career interceptions, with Eddie Jackson and that’s a pair of safeties who can create turnovers on any given pass.
These are the stories and developments that I will keep a close eye on during Bears training camp, and I believe the story will be told. The Chicago Bears have been a main focal point during the offseason, and it’s soon time to find out if they’re ready for the challenge of taking that next step as a football team.