Bears hopeful that second-round picks pay quick dividends

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Bears second-round draft pick Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
during game action between University of Notre Dame vs. University of Georgia at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Athens, Georgia.
Utah CB Jaylon Johnson is a physical and instinctive defender with excellent ball skills.
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Bears 2019 season leftovers

Bears General Manager Ryan Pace will be under pressure to turn around the team’s fortunes after a disappointing 2019 season.

Following a season that failed to meet expectations and ended with the firing of four assistant coaches, we empty the notebook as the calendar turns to 2020 and a new decade of Chicago Bears football begins.

1. The New Year’s eve press conference featuring head coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace was predictable in most aspects. While proclaiming that Mitch Trubisky would enter 2020 as the starter, Pace did leave room for changes in the Bears quarterback room with backups Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray becoming free agents. It would be to the Bears advantage to seek a veteran backup who could push Trubisky, but that may be too much to ask a Chicago brain trust that seemingly wants to diffuse any competition at the position.

2. The dismissals of four original Nagy staff members was a direct reflection of the Bears ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball. Mark Helfrich’s firing served as somewhat of a scapegoat move, though, since Nagy is the Bears play caller and chief offensive strategist. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s second tenure with the club ended badly as the offensive line struggled through poor play and untimely penalties. Tight end was another disaster area, thanks in part to injuries but also the lack of development of former second-round draft pick Adam Shaheen. Tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride paid for those issues with his job.


Bears face major decisions in offseason

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.

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 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.

Storylines abound in Bears-Chiefs tilt despite lack of signficance

With the post-season no longer a possibility, the Chicago Bears enter their home-finale Sunday evening at Soldier Field against the Kansas City Chiefs with little to play for besides pride.

However, wrapped around the Christmas day holiday and the end of the season are several interesting sub-plots which should prove interesting to watch.

For starters, draft day regrets may bubble to the surface when the Bears get a glimpse of the quarterback they passed on, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has been nothing short of spectacular while the quarterback the Bears traded up for and chose, Mitch Trubisky, is still trying to establish some consistency finishing his third season. While Trubisky has played better recently, Mahomes production and play has vaulted the Chiefs into a team with deep playoff aspirations.