Football season is back!
Well, almost. The Chicago Bears will have their first training camp practice open to the public on Saturday. Finally, football is back in Chicago. For the first time in years, there is a buzz around the Bears, who look like Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2019 season.
The Loop Sports will have great coverage at camp with several people attending each practice. Make sure you’re following along on Twitter. Myself, Dan DeYoung, Jack Sobel, and James Fox will also be live Tweeting throughout different camp practices as well.
I'll likely head out Bourbonnais for #Bears camp on Sunday 7/28 and Monday 7/29. I'll have articles on practice for @TheLoop_Sports. Make sure you're following that account as well as @DanDeYoung80 and @PetroTLS for camp reports.
— James Fox (@JamesFox917) July 21, 2019
While the Bears have one of the best overall rosters in the league, there are still important things to watch for in training camp. Here, I will give the four questions that I hope get answered by the time the Bears are done in Bourbonnais.
Let’s get started.
1. Will Mitch Trubisky Take The Next Step?
The NFL season can be very long…and there is A LOT of talk. That talk comes to end this week. Player’s performances will now do the talking, which means something to Bears’ third-year QB Mitch Trubisky.
Let’s cut the bs, the Bears will go as far as Trubisky takes them. That’s true for pretty much every team in the NFL. It’s a quarterback-driven league and the Bears finally have their franchise QB they’ve been waiting for since they traded for Jay Cutler in 2009.
There has been reports that Trubisky looked great this offseason. He took command of the offense and showed real growth from year one to two in the Matt Nagy offense. We’ll know more when the pads come on this week.
Remember, talk is cheap, especially talk about OTA performances.
With upgraded personal at both the RB and WR position, I see no reason why Trubisky won’t take the next step in his career. As long as everyone stays healthy, the Bears, at least on paper, should put up points on offense.
Still, we need to see Trubisky make improvements in different areas. These come to my mind right off the bat:
-getting deeper in progressions
-not being a “first read” QB
Let’s hope this training camp shows us that Trubisky has taken the next step in his development.
2. How Will Chuck Pagano, Buster Skrine, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Change The Bears Defense?
Kind of a long question, but a necessary one if you ask me.
This offseason, Bears fans have been split on this subject. Specifically, when it comes to the departure of Vic Fangio and the addition of Chuck Pagano. Fans either think the defense is going to take a major step back or be the exact same under Pagano.
I liked the move to bring in Pagano after Fangio was hired by the Broncos, but we don’t know for certain if it will translate into the same dominant defense we saw last season. Personally, I prefer Pagano’s more aggressive style compared to Fangio’s relaxed defense at times, especially when up a score or two. Keep the pressure on.
The Bears also lost Bryce Callahan to the Broncos and replaced him with veteran Buster Skrine. Skrine’s stats from last season are lackluster, to say the least. He was playing on the Jets though, who didn’t have much talent besides safety Jamal Adams.
Here are some stats from 2018 that make me think twice about Skrine:
-14.1 yards allowed per reception
-9.1 yards allowed per target
-1 pass breakup
-7 total TDs allowed
The hope is a veteran player like Skrine will elevate his play by having a much better supporting cast. Before last season, Skrine averaged 16 defensed passes per season. To put that into perspective, Kyler Fuller led the NFL last year with 22.
Shoutout to @MaxMarkhamNFL for that info.
Skrine is at his best when he’s in the slot. He also has competition. Rookie Duke Shelley turned some heads in OTAs this offseason and could take over for Skrine if his performance isn’t up to par.
Ryan Pace told us on Sunday that Clinton-Dix would start the season on the PUP list because of a knee sprain he suffered at the end of OTAs. The good news is the injury seems minor and Clinton-Dix should be back before the end of camp.
Packers fans have been all over Bears fans saying Adrian Amos is a better play and HCD doesn’t like to tackle and blah, blah, blah. For what the Bears do on defense though, I see HCD as a better fit.
The Bears even came out and said they had HCD graded higher than Amos. My buddy Nick at The Chicago Audible does a great job of breaking down HCD’s range. Let me give you the summary – Adrian Amos wasn’t making that play.
Check out the distance that #Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix covers on this play against the Buccaneers in Week 10. Eddie Jackson and Clinton-Dix are going to make it tough for opposing quarterbacks to complete deep passes. pic.twitter.com/UQCrp4aQeN
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) July 11, 2019
Again, HCD seems like a better fit for what the Bears are trying to do under Pagano. Of course, he needs to stay healthy for these assumptions to be true.
3. What Will the Bears RB Committee Look Like?
The Bears have formed their own version of run DMC.
This RB group is lightyears better than last year’s unit. Despite what some delusional Bears fans will tell you, the team needed to move on from Jordan Howard, who was a talented player. Ultimately, he wasn’t versatile enough for Nagy’s system.
Howard was a guy who needed and wanted 20-25 carries to be successful. That rarely happens in this type of offense. Adding Montgomery in the draft and Davis via free agency will do wonders for the offense.
Early on, there was a belief Davis would be the starter and receive a good portion of the carries. However, Montgomery was impressive during OTAs. He passed the “eye test,” and then some.
Like most fantasy experts, I too project Montgomery to have a big year in his rookie season. He can catch the football, which is obviously one for the most important traits RBs need to have in Nagy’s offense. He will eventually become a true three-down back.
The question for 2019 is how will the Bears rotate Davis, Montgomery, and Cohen, who saw a decent amount of carries last year. 81.8% of Cohen’s runs came in the shotgun last season. That should tell you how the Bears want to attack their opponents. Cohen also had a catch rate of 79.8%, which was good for 11th best in the NFL.
Davis was targeted a decent amount in the passing game with the Seahawks last year (42 total).
Every Bears’ RB can run in between the tackles effectively and catch the football out of the backfield. That’s the important thing to remember here. You couldn’t say that about last year’s unit.
If I had to guess who gets the most touches from greatest to least, it would look a little something like this:
It’s also very possible that we see Davis get more touches early on, especially with Montgomery being a rookie and all. General manager Ryan Pace had some high praise for Davis this past Sunday.
Pace on RB Mike Davis- "Davis is an important part of that RB room."
Also said they were very excited to sign him in FA. David Montgomery isn't just going to run away & hide in terms of taking the majority of these snaps at RB. #Bears
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) July 21, 2019
Look at the last several Super Bowl winners.
All had running back by committee approaches. That’s what the good teams do and the Bears have finally followed in their footsteps.
The Bears may not have their kicker for 2019 until Wednesday, September 4th.
This has been the talk of the offseason for obvious reasons. Will Eddy Pineiro or Elliott Fry be the Bears’ kicker heading into week one. I doubt it, but that’s what camps for right? The kicking game may be the most important thing to watch for in the preseason.
Never thought I’d have to say that. Man, do I miss Robbie Gould.
Anyway, Pace sounded like a guy who was searching for his next kicker when he spoke on Sunday. Here’s what he had to say on both Pineiro and Fry:
Fry – “Elliott, a little different. Elliott’s got a pretty consistent stroke. As he gets stronger, you know he had a year away from football, as he gets stronger, we anticipate some of that leg strength improving as well.”
Pineiro – “Eddy’s got real natural leg talent. He’s got a strong leg. It’s just developing consistency as he goes forward. He’s a young kicker.”
Yea, so, the Bears better keep looking.
Bill Zimmerman of MadDog Radio and excellent Twitter follow for Bears fans (@ZimmermanSXM), suggested a few situations around the NFL the Bears should be monitoring.
I think the loser of the #Browns kicking competition between Austin Siebert and Greg Joseph is one the #Bears will keep an eye on. Siebert will most likely win the job, and I could see the Bears having keen interest in Joseph.
— Bill Zimmerman (@ZimmermanSXM) July 22, 2019
Joeseph is ok at best. The guy myself and another great Bears Twitter follow Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) suggested is Kaare Vedvik, who is currently on the Baltimore Ravens. Justin Tucker will win the job and the Ravens will have to move on from Vedvik. The kid has a monster leg and was having a solid preseason before suffering an injury in 2018.
Kaare Vedvik is a name to watch for the #Bears at kicker. @AaronLemingNFL talked about it last night, but Ravens will try to trade him. Big leg. He makes a 60, 65 and 70 yard field goals in the video below 🏈🏈🏈
— Nick Petro (@PetroTLS) May 6, 2019
If the Ravens decided Tucker is too expensive, then the Bears would be silly not to pursue him. Despite what the rest of Sports Mockery says, trading for Justin Tucker seems like a laughable solution, at least right now.
Vedvik is the most likely option.
Either way, the Bears need to find a reliable kick if they want to have any chance at making a deep postseason run.
Don’t forget to follow The Loop Sports for in-depth training camp coverage.