Guest post by Kobe Bernard.
There are high hopes for Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears in 2019.
How high? Well, online sports betting sites have Chicago listed with the fourth highest odds to win the National Football Conference. And the Bears are ahead of both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings – the Detroit Lions aren’t even in the discussion– to win the NFC North.
With camp coming up soon, let’s try to get a bead on the Bears offseason and preseason.
The Bears won the NFC North buy going 12-4 last season, winning not only enough games but the right games.
This season, the Bears have dual impact running backs in Jordan Howard and Iowa State draft, David Montgomery. We are likely to see quite a bit of the rookie, as he fits well into Nagy’s offensive scheme. The use of two talented backs will give the running game more depth, and Montgomery’s soft hands will add an extra dimention to the flat pass and short passing game as well. With Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis in the Mix, there are a lot of options at running back.
Some swapping on the line has seemed to improve the fluidity of the offense as well. Trubisky is still growing as a QB and leader, plus he is still learning his receivers. That said, the offense seems to be clicking so, it is likely to show a marked improvement throughout the 2019 season.
The Bears have always been known for their defense –when they’re good. This season shouldn’t be any different. Bringing over Khalil Mack from the Raiders was that spark that the D needed. It isn’t like he’s a one-man show, but he is the catalyst that gets the whole defense firing.
There is a solid core of DB in Amukamara, Clinton Dix, Fuller, Shelly, Skrine, and Kevin Toliver. I wouldn’t call it a lock-down pass defense, but it is formidable, especially when you add the pressure that is going to come from the Edge and LBs.
The main weakness still seems to be at kicker. There have been jokes running since March on the Bears inability to hit a field goal. It’s like the Oregon Ducks from a few years back when they would go for two because there was more of a likelihood of converting the two-points than hitting the extra-point.
Let’s face it, although the kicker doesn’t get much glory; it may just be the most important aspect of the game. Just look at the Division round game last season. Cody Parker and the Bears were 28th in the league in field goals, and that missed 42-yarder was straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to a little over 5 million dollars in dead money for the Bears to hunt down a new kicker. So far, that hasn’t panned out. Practices still show miss after miss after miss. Will somebody finally figure out how to kick the prolate spheroid through the uprights before the season starts?
The Bears open up the preseason against the Panthers in Carolina; then they get the Giants at Soldier Field. After that, they head to Indianapolis and then receive the Titans.
Last year, Nagy went backward on normal preseason philosophy by sitting the starters during preseason Week 4. Somehow they still managed to beat the Chiefs 27-20. It will be interesting to see if he dresses down the dress rehearsal again this year against the Titans.
All in all, we should see another double-digit win season from the Bears … they just need to find a kicker for when the competition gets tough.
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