2018 NFL season preview: Chicago Bears

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The Mitchell Trubisky era is ready to begin in the Windy city, and Bears fans could not be more excited. After an extended stretch of mediocre (at best) quarterback play, the Bears are finally in a position to develop a top quarterback talent to take over the team’s passing duties.

We all know how important the quarterback position is to the success of an offense and a team. Trubisky will get his chance to shine, and the Bears have done all they can to help him reach his potential. First, Chicago was aggressive in pursuing weapons for the young QB in free agency, signing the best overall wideout available in Allen Robinson. Then, they continued to search for more pieces to put around Trubisky. They found one in the form of former Falcons speedster Taylor Gabriel, who will immediately be called upon to be the deep threat. Trubisky has a massive arm, which could bode well for Gabriel’s success, considering his world class track speed.

The Bears also had to deal with replacing tight end Zach Miller, who suffered a gruesome leg injury. At some point, he had to undergo a series of surgeries, as doctors feared he would lose his leg. In order to replace him, Chicago signed former Eagles tight end Trey Burton, who showed well in limited time replacing an injured Zach Ertz in Philadelphia.

The Bears would be wise to emphasize the running game in Trubisky’s first full season as the starter. Having a solid rushing attack can go a long way in helping a quarterback achieve success. This is true for many reasons. First, when a defense sees that the running game is working against them, they immediately take a step back from simply launching themselves at the quarterback in the pass rush. They are forced to respect the running game, which means less pass rushing, as well as fewer defenders in coverage. When the defense commits to stopping the run, the offense can take advantage in many different ways. They can call play action fakes, which help to free up the receivers in coverage.

But perhaps the most important part of having a great running game, is the fact that the defense simply gets worn out. By the second half, they are gasping for air, hands clutched against their waists. The Bears need to help Trubisky in any way possible, and running the ball would be their best way to achieve that.

The good news for Chicago is that they have two good runners in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The two offer a dynamic combination of explosiveness and a physical style of running. Howard was the clear lead back last season, running for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.

The Bears quietly had a top ten defense in 2017. The team gave up a very respectable 319.1 yards per game. They were very solid against the pass, ranking seventh in passing yards allowed at 211 per game. Their touchdown to interception ratio was 18-8, which is good, especially considering their divisional opponents and their respective passing games.

The Bears should be even better defensively in 2018. They drafted outside linebacker Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Smith should be a key member of this unit, and is expected to contribute immediately for Chicago. After a couple of offensive picks, they came back to select three defensive players in succession starting in round four. Linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was the first of the middle round bunch, and he will have a chance to make a first year impact. In order to shore up the defensive line, the team selected Delaware defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, followed by defensive end Kylie Fitts in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively.

Overall, the Bears look poised to begin a new era on the right note. The team named former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy as the new head coach, and he appears ready to make the necessary changes, to bring back this once glorified franchise to the top of the football world – where they belong. The process might take some time, but things are actually looking up for the Bears for the first time in a long time.