Chicago Bears football is finally upon us. After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, many changes have been made. Bears Coach John Fox stated that this is the “deepest and most competitive team we’ve fielded.” That being said, there are many position battles that will need to be decided in training camp and in the preseason.
The Jay Cutler era is over, after eight seasons. Bears general manger Ryan Pace brought in Mike Glennon, 27, via free agency, with a 3 year, $45 million contract. It was the belief of many that he would be the unquestioned starter when week 1 arrived, however a shock trade was made on draft night. The bears traded up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, 22, from the University of North Carolina. Ryan Pace has continued to say that Glennon will be the starter, but if Trubisky goes out in preseason and dominates the opponents will that still be the case? In 2016, Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has some athleticism to him, and he’s accurate. However, he is still adjusting to the nuances at the pro level. It is well documented that he has had trouble taking snaps under center, but that should be something he can learn with repetition. Glennon has looked solid in camp, and is obviously more advanced in the NFL passing game than Trubisky. For now, it’s Glennon’s job to lose.
Prediction: Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez
Jordan Howard had a pro-bowl rookie season, rushing for 1,313 yards and 6 touchdowns, after not becoming the starter until week 4. The depth chart behind him remains a mystery, however. Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford are the holdovers, and both players have had issues with staying healthy over the duration of the season. Langford also needs to run with better instincts. Ryan Pace brought in Benny Cunningham, who has special teams value, but is not someone you really want taking many snaps at running back in games. Tarik Cohen is an interesting player to keep an eye on as he has been nicknamed “the human joystick.” Cohen was drafted in the 4th round of the draft and is listed at 5′ 6″ and 179 pounds. So, it’s fair to question his durability, but he can bring mismatches in the receiving game that the Bears have been lacking. Joel Bouagnon is an undrafted free agent from NIU, who is worth keeping an eye on, also.
Prediction: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Ka’Deem Carey
The wide receiver position is a complete mystery, at this point. Alshon Jeffery signed with the Eagles in free agency, and Eddie Royal was released. It’s safe to assume that Cameron Meredith will be the number one. Behind him, in no particular order, are Kevin White, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Tanner Gentry, Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Kendall Wright, Reuben Randle, and Daniel Braverman. Ryan Pace brought in Cruz, Wright, Wheaton, and Randle via free agency, and Gentry is an undrafted free agent from Wyoming. That’s ten names with possibly 5-6 roster spots available. Special teams is obviously important, but it’s more crucial to round out the bottom of the wide receiver group with players that can run clean routes and not drop the football, like they did last year. In fact, in week 12 against the Titans, the Bears set an NFL record with ten drops in the game. That can’t happen this year.
Prediction: Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Tanner Gentry
You could make the case that tight end is the deepest position on the Bears’ roster. Gone are the days where screen passes were thrown to Logan Paulsen. This is an exciting group of talent. Zach Miller was the starter last year, and while he is talented he finished the year on injured reserve, which has happened far too often in his career. He is also 32 years old. Dion Sims is a big tight end that signed a 3 year, $18 million contract in the off-season. Adam “Baby Gronk” Shaheen was drafted in the second round, and earned the nickname because hes 6′ 6″ and weighs 277 pounds, and he moves well for his size. Daniel Brown played late last year due to injuries and quickly caught the eye of the coaches and the fanbase. He plays similarly to Zach Miller, but is seven years younger. Ben Braunecker hardly played a role last year, after being an undrafted free agent, but it’s possible that he’s ready to take that next step. That’s five names for only 3-4 roster spots. Brown and Braunecker could very well be claimed off the practice squad, so it will be an interesting decision for Ryan Pace.
Prediction: Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker