4th place; Chicago Bears
The 2020 cellar-dweller will be the Chicago Bears. In a division that is actually relatively close from the top to the bottom, the Bears grade out as the least.
The Bears offensive line was inconsistent last season and did nothing to improve itself this past offseason. And the retirement of Kyle Long didn’t help. Perhaps the feeling in the Windy City is that they will gell this year and raise their level of play as a unit. I have my doubts.
At receiver the Bears feature Allen Robinson who is still a play-maker, but the cupboard is pretty bare after him. Ted Ginn Jr and Cordarrelle Patterson were always more productive as gadget players or return men than they ever were as receivers and while Darnell Mooney could be the future, that future isn’t now. Tight end Jimmy Graham is past his prime and rookie Cole Kmet has a steep learning curve.
The strongest position on the Bears offense is running back. The combination of David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen is a pretty good one. Montgomery made some noise last season and is at the very least a reliable runner, but he could be more. Cohen is one of the ultimate chess pieces. He can run, catch, return, and maybe even sell hotdogs while the offense is on the sidelines. Any injuries to either would be a major concern because there is no depth beyond this two-man show.
Quarterback is the key. Mitch Trubisky only plays well against Detroit and Nick Foles has never prospered outside of Philadelphia. If neither can step up and do the job the Bears offense will be ready to hibernate for the winter.
This the Bears bread and butter, but it’s not without concerns either. The defensive line is thin in the middle with Eddie Goldman opting out for the season and Nick Williams now a Detroit Lion. But the Bears front seven still has Akeem Hicks who is their best defensive lineman and Khalil Mack who may be the most feared pass-rusher in the entire NFL.
Book-ending Mack will be Robert Quinn who has terrific ability, but he hasn’t always gotten the most out of it. Meanwhile, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan are a good one-two punch at inside linebacker and will help keep the defensive front seven competitive.
The secondary has two blue-chippers in cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Both are outstanding, but how much help they get will be the real tale of the tape. Rookie corner Jaylon Johnson could be really good with some seasoning and it will be interesting to see what Tashaun Gipson has to contribute at safety.
The Bears should be competitive defensively despite some questions.
Head coach Matt Nagy isn’t coaching for his life yet, but if his Bears finish in the cellar, then things will start to get pretty hot in the Windy City for him.