by Peter Smith
Sitting at a record of 3-5 with a future high draft pick, and the prospect of having a new coach next year, the Bears are in a bit of a pickle. However, 3-5 is not all the players’ fault. Bad coaching and personnel decisions have cost the Bears dearly in the past few seasons. This past April, the Bears traded up in the draft with the San Francisco 49ers from the number three overall pick to the number two overall pick. The Bears gave up a third and fourth rounder this season, and a third rounder for next season to move up one spot. The pick was used to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina. Apparently, the Bears were afraid that San Francisco would pick Trubisky. This was eventually proven to be false as the 49ers were instead interested in Solomon Thomas, a defensive lineman from Stanford. The move was a bold one from a franchise who doesn’t make headlines like this regularly on draft day and really seemed more like something a team like the New York Jets would do. Moreover, the Bears had recently signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a 3 year contract with $18.5 million in guaranteed money. The bulk of that guarantee is paid in the first year as Glennon will earn $16 million in guaranteed money this year.
After a 1-3 start, Coach John Fox reluctantly pulled the plug on Glennon, as he forced turnover after turnover. After watching the Jay Cutler wheel of despair for several years, I could not watch them play and it seems Mike Glennon is the same case. After starting his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and going 4-9, that following year the Buccaneers drafted quarterback Jameis Winston with the number one overall pick. Mike Glennon held the clipboard for two years, Mitchell Trubisky on the other hand, the quarterback from North Carolina, only has one year of starting experience in college. However in that one year, he passed for 3,748 yards, with a 30 to 6 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 157.9 passer rating. I was a bit skeptical of his one year of starting experience. How come he couldn’t beat out Marquise Williams, an undrafted quarterback for 2 years? Trubisky explained that he and Williams competed for the job, and that North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora made the decision. Trubisky believes that he deserved the starting job.
In the Week 5 loss against the Minnesota Vikings, Trubisky looked better than previous Bears signal-callers. Trubisky’s main strengths are getting out of the pocket and getting the ball out quickly, and the team looked energized with Trubisky in the huddle. The ground game was good, anchored inside by guards Josh Sitton, Kyle Long, and center Cody Whitehair. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen form a “Thunder and Lightning” duo. Howard gets the tough yards, and Cohen grabs the big plays. Last year, Howard was the second leading rusher in the league, and Cohen so far has been electrifying, I can say that I haven’t seen a player like that since Devin Hester. Whenever he touches the ball, a big play might happen and Cohen can catch the football out of the backfield as well. The receiving corps on the other hand, is nonexistent. The cupboard is completely bare. After letting Alshon Jeffery walk in free agency, the Bears believed former first round pick Kevin White could be a number one threat. Since he was drafted seventh overall in 2015, White has been plagued by injuries. He missed his entire rookie year, when he has seen the field he has been invisible. With 21 receptions for 193 yards and zero touchdowns he is so injury prone, that I would consider him a bust. Cameron Meredith, who is also injured, broke out last year for almost 900 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. This leaves a group of unproven players like Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Tre McBride, Joshua Bellamy, and Tanner Gentry. On paper, the Bears are thin at receiver. During roster cuts, they cut wideouts Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle, and recently, Deonte Thompson.
On defense, the secondary is completely revamped with starters on all four spots. We can expect to see Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper at the cornerback positions, and Quintin Demps and rookie Eddie Jackson at the safety spots. The secondary has been the weak spot of the Bears defense the past few seasons, with a rotating door of players. The Bears switched from their traditional 4-3 scheme in favor of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 alignment in 2014. The results have been gradually getting better with the personnel brought in. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman out of Florida State is anchored at the nose tackle position. Defensive end Akiem Hicks, outside linebackers Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee, and Willie Young anchor the pass rush, and inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan stop the run. The defense has not been short of injuries, however, with Demps, Young, and Freeman currently being on IR.
In year 3 of the rebuild, GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox are under pressure. In Fox’s previous stops, by year 3 he has turned the team around and gotten them to the playoffs. The Chicago fan-base is getting apathetic, and Soldier Field has more and more empty seats on game day. They aren’t ready to contend yet, and probably won’t for several more years, but with Trubisky at quarterback, a solid running game, and a feisty underrated defense, the future looks semi-bright. Maybe in the near future, the Bears can roar like the ol’ Monsters of the Midway.