The Chicago Bears have struggled for the past four seasons, culminating in the departure of head coach John Fox after their underwhelming 2017 campaign.
Fox lasted three terms after succeeding Marc Trestman, but was unable to guide the club anywhere near the post-season. The patience of the front office with Fox ended following a 5-11 campaign.
Chicago hired Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to replace Fox, pairing him with second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears moved up in the 2017 Draft to select Trubisky with the second-overall pick. He displayed promise in his rookie season and has the chance to improve under Nagy, who impressed during his time with the Chiefs as their play-caller last term.
There’s hope that the Bears can stage a dramatic improvement on offense led by Trubisky. However, running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have displayed electric skills on the field in their fledgling careers. Cohen was downright scary for defenses to handle with ball in hand.
Nagy also has talent on the defensive side of the ball, with the Bears maintaining the services of outstanding coordinator Vic Fangio. The late trade to acquire Khalil Mack has handed Fangio one of the elite pass-rushers in the NFL, giving the Bears a huge potential for improvement in 2018.
The Bears will be hopeful of an improvement in the level of play from Trubisky. It has been the theme of quarterbacks selected in the top-10 of the NFL Draft in recent seasons. Both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff were able to take drastic steps forward in their second terms. Trubisky played in seven matches last term and had mixed success as expected from a rookie in a struggling team. He threw for seven touchdowns to seven interceptions along with 2,193 yards. His receiving corps was not the best, and although Howard and Cohen were able to ease some of the strain, Trubisky had little support on the outside.
This season should be different as the Bears signed impressive wideout Allen Robinson during free agency. He has flashed during his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, recording an impressive 2015 season. Robinson missed all but one game of last term with a torn ACL, but he has the talent to get separation downfield that the Bears sorely lacked. Kevin White is on his last chance in Chicago. Hopes were high when he was selected with the fifth pick in the 2015 Draft. However, injuries have blighted his time in the windy city. Chicago turned down his fifth-year option, making this a make-or-break campaign for the 26-year-old.
The offense will flow through the success of the backs. Howard has established himself as one of the leading ball-carriers in the NFL. He has put together back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Cohen is the x-factor with the ball in hand. The 23-year-old produced outstanding plays on the field in open space. His ability to beat tackles with his speed and agility makes him one of the most dangerous playmakers in the NFL. Nagy and Trubisky have to get the best out of him for the Bears to keep pace in the NFC North.
The Bears are slowly building a solid unit once again. They’re miles away from the 1985 defense that dominated the NFL in their run to the Super Bowl. The current group are nowhere near the level that Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs manned in their last venture towards the Super Bowl in the 2006 term. However, there are some promising signs, beginning with the defensive line. Akiem Hicks should have been an All-Pro last term.
He was an unstoppable force in the middle of the line. Bill Belichick doesn’t make many mistakes, but one of his few errors was to allow Hicks to leave the New England Patriots after 2015. General manager Ryan Pace pulled off a huge coup in landing Mack from the Oakland Raiders. He won defensive player of the year in 2016, a similar campaign could lift the team towards the playoffs.
The secondary is beginning to form into a solid unit. Adrian Amos made a leap last season and was considered one of the leading safeties in the NFL by some publications. With Eddie Jackson alongside him, the Bears could be building vital security in the back end. It’s important considered Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and now Kirk Cousins play in their division. Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Cre’von LeBlanc should fill out the cornerback spots, highlighting an impressive array of talent.
Chicago had a steal when they selected Roquan Smith with the eighth pick in the 2018 Draft. However, he has yet to sign his rookie deal (at the time of writing). Smith should be signed before the start of the term, although he cannot afford to lose time on the practice field. He was arguably the most talented player in the selection process and could be an elite linebacker with his speed and tactical awareness. Smith was outstanding at the Georgia Bulldogs and should have no problem adapting to life in the NFL in his first term.
The Bears are in a difficult spot in their division considering the quality of the teams around them. They’re not ready yet to take on the established sides of the Packers and the Vikings. However, their mission has to be finish ahead of the Detroit Lions, who are also in a transition period. They’ve got more exciting talent than their rivals therefore it could see them finish ahead of the Lions.
To do that they’ll win over 6.5 matches at odds of -133 with 888Sport, although take them not to reach the post-season at odds of -800 . An ambitious punt would be the +800 for the Bears to win the NFC North with TopBet – injuries could happen to pave their way to the crown.
Howard has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in the NFL. He could well make a charge to be rushing champion in 2018 should Trubisky ease the burden on the back. Take Howard at odds of +1300 to lead the league in rushing with BetOnline.
On the other side of the ball, Smith’s lack of time at practice should not affect his performance on the field. Come September, he should be starting in the middle of Fangio’s defense. Expect him to record 70 plus tackles along with a couple of sacks. That could see him get the nod as defensive rookie of the year at odds of +451 with Bookmaker EU.
Chicago Bears To Win Over 6.5 Matches
Chicago Bears Not To Reach Playoffs
Jordan Howard To Be NFL Rushing Leader
Roquan Smith To Be NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Khalil Mack To Be Defensive Player Of The Year
Khalil Mack To Lead The NFL In Sacks