Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears for WARR
The Chicago Bears feel like a brand new car, it looks good on paper and in person, the only question is how will it do on the road.
There are a lot of variables on the road and all kinds of things are out of the driver’s hands. The Bears began the road earlier than just about every team in the league due to the hall of fame game. What happens from the start of training camp until the start of the season, take it with a grain of salt. This part of the season is just a tune up for the real road ahead. Nonetheless, there are certain things from camp to get excited about — is the most hopeful time of the year, after all. All training camp really gives is story lines to watch for during the preseason.
It just so happens that this year the Bears have a plethora of storylines compared to recent years where they have really fallen short. But both offense and defense are interesting for separate reasons. The defense comes back with basically all starters from last year in tact, including the defensive coordinator and his staff. On the other side off the ball the offense is brand new featuring new weapons for a young and developing quarterback. Amazing what a new scheme and play caller can do for your health.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can say the same thing about the Bears championship dreams. At least it looks like they are headed on the right road to success, here are some early storylines from camp.
Mitchell Trubisky and the Offense
Mitchell Trubisky is the quarterback, so he’s the most important player on the roster and his development will be a process. Not only is it only his second year and he has not started a full season yet, but now Trubisky has to master a complex brand new offense.
The potential struggles of Trubisky isn’t shocking news seeing as how its about the investment for the long term gains rather than for the short term buyout. That in mind, if Trubisky CAN show a sort of mastery of the offense then the Bears may be a surprise team in the NFL. The word in camp so far is that Trubisky has thrown a lot of interceptions, which you’d think is bad. But Trubisky has also shown resiliency in not letting interceptions get him down too as there is also plenty of positives as well. Mitch is learning and growing, head coach Matt Nagy has even encouraged making mistakes in practice. Those mistakes will be teaching tools in the film room and coach Nagy has made sure to point out that now is the time for mistakes, but that won’t be the same case during the season.
Overall the reviews have been positive, players have gone out of there way to gush about the new and shiny offense. Many believe the receivers compliment each other and that they are in a system putting an emphasis on sharing the wealth. The Bears should be an improved offense, their personnel alone is an upgrade over last year’s team. The question is how much can the coaches teach without it being overwhelming to the players, especially Trubisky. The positivity around the offense isn’t a surprise and it sure can make a hopeful Bears fan wonder.
New and Improved Defense
The Bears are basically the same defense as last year. Vic Fangio and staff are here again, the starting corners and safeties are the same (we’ll pretend Adrian Amos was the starter over Quintin Demps). The starting linebackers and defensive line are the same except for Jerrell Freeman (finished the season on IR), Pernell McPhee (finished the season on IR) and Mitch Unrein (finished the season on IR). Besides the few new starters, the Bears are looking for improvement from a majority of their guys. Can they take the next steps to truly become a great defense?
Early returns are again positive and that is mainly from all the turnovers. Prince Amukamara has been at the forefront of the interceptions collected. The one thing the Bears defense was not great at last year was taking the ball away in the air. Vic Fangio has done such a great job of scheming pass rush as defensive coordinator and last year the corners had multiple opportunities to make plays but not enough were made. If camp is a good indicator of whats to come then this defense might be on its way to taking that last big step from being a good defense to a great one.
Obviously one of the biggest storylines from camp is the absent Roquan Smith. Smith and the Bears have a hold up over language is focused around a potential scenario where the Bears could void paying Smith some to all of his guaranteed money if Smith is suspended.
This is potentially a problem for a linebacker under the new rules of leading with your helmet which can lead to penalties like suspensions. Its a storyline that all fans are hoping will go away soon. The new inside linebacker is a top ten pick that is supposed to take the Bears defense to a higher level. If Smith is not at camp getting those reps then that development may be slowed.
Of course its possible that Smith comes to camp when he comes and still takes the Bears to a higher level. There is no doubt that sooner rather than later is the ideal for everyone involved and heres hoping Smith and the Bears reach a deal soon. In the meantime, it sounds like Nick Kwiatkoski has done a solid job in Smith’s place.
Its still early into camp and the Bears do have an extra preseason game. Panicking over the contract holdout is unnecessary at this point but time is ticking and make no mistake, the Bears need their seventh pick to be contributing as soon as possible.
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