Bears face major decisions in offseason

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With a disappointing season behind them, the Bears need some retooling to become NFC contenders.

Following Sunday’s road finale at Minnesota, the Chicago Bears stumble into an offseason with major questions and few answers.

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Here are a few thoughts after watching the Bears fade from preseason Super Bowl contender to also rans.

  1. QB Mitch Trubisky’s lack of development. Most expected Trubisky to grow rapidly in his second full season in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense. Instead, he regressed and committed many of the same mistakes from his first two seasons–inaccurate throws due to sloppy fundamentals, poor decision-making when faced with finding a secondary receiver, an unwillingness to scramble or use his legs to move the chains, and an inability to stretch the field with the long ball. While Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace are not likely to give up on Trubisky’s potential, the real question is what, if any, strong veteran competition might he face? While this season’s offensive struggles are hardly his fault alone, the Bears need more from the quarterback position to become factors in 2020.
  2. Offensive line struggles. Simply put, no one played well this year. Left tackle Charles Leno has turned in consecutive years where he ranked among the NFL leaders in penalties committed. Right tackle Bobby Massie is waiting to be replaced by a better alternative. Inside, second-year man James Daniels regressed after bouncing between center and guard. The other guard spot is a major question mark with Kyle Long no longer effective and journeyman Rashaad Coward just a stopgap. Veteran offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is also under scrutiny for failing to develop a unit that gave contract extensions to both tackles after last season’s 12-4 mark. Center Cody Whitehair is versatile, but has been getting by on reputation since his rookie campaign. Clearly, the Bears need to upgrade at least two of these spots.
  3. Lack of playmakers at tight end and to compliment Allen Robinson. In a season of disappointments, the tight end position is a microcosm of the Bears failures. Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen both suffered through injury-prone years where there were non-productive . Burton has yet to recover from the late 2018 groin injury that sidelined him for the playoff game against the Eagles, while Shaheen appears to be a draft day swing-and-miss by General Manager Pace. Allen Robinson may not be an elite receiver, but the former Penn State product turned in a Pro Bowl worthy season and remains Chicago’s biggest offensive playmaker. Second-year wideout Anthony Miller shows flashes of improvement, but is not consistent enough on a game-to-game basis. The Bears need to hope he develops further or that rookie Riley Ridley can contribute after
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    an injury filled rookie season. Taylor Gabriel’s lingering concussion issues hampered the Bears ability to stretch the field, although Trubisky has struggled throwing long.
  4. Mental mistakes and untimely penalties. A series of bad decisions, mental errors, and untimely flags haunted Chicago all season. The team lacked focus from the season opener against Green Bay through the Kansas City home finale debacle. Whether it was a lack of playing time in the preseason or overconfidence from last season’s division title success, the Bears appeared to play football dumb for much of the year.

With limited draft resources, the onus will be on Pace and Nagy to make some calculated decisions to tweak the roster, perhaps adjust the coaching staff, and lift a sagging Bears offense to respectability. The defense appears in solid shape, provided Akiem Hicks returns to form and Khalil Mack remains healthy, yet the window could slowly begin to close on that unit with a number of veteran playmakers in prominent roles.

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