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2018 Team Report: Chicago Bears

Offensive Philosophy

After getting a near-MVP-caliber season out of veteran Alex Smith, the Bears hired away Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to be their new head coach. For his offensive coordinator, Nagy hired Mark Helfrich, who was Chip Kelly's offensive coordinator and then replacement at Oregon. The two will likely combine to install an up-tempo spread passing game with the potential to put up a lot of yards and points... provided second-year starter Mitch Trubisky is capable of running it.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Mitchell Trubisky
Backup(s): Chase Daniel

Starting QB: Mitchell Trubisky started 12 games in his rookie season, holding his own amidst a lacking set of pass catchers. Trubisky averaged less than 28 passes per game as Chicago focused on the run game to limit Trubisky's exposure to overt long-yardage situations and critical mistakes. Trubisky excelled in avoid interceptions as his interception rate of 2.1% was his most optimistic second-level stat. Trubisky showed the ability to throw with anticipation, timing, and accuracy on intermediate routes and into tight windows. Mobility was also a plus as Trubisky was one of the few quarterbacks to average more than 20 yards per game on the ground. With Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton added to the Bears skill position roster and Matt Nagy giving the team an offensive-minded head coach, Trubisky is poised to take a step forward in 2018.

Backup QB: Chase Daniel joins Chicago's roster for 2018 as Mitchell Trubisky's backup. Daniel has been one of the more desirable backups in the NFL considering he has two career starts back in 2013-14. Daniel is on his fourth team in as many seasons and still an unknown with 78 career passes. He spent three years under Andy Reid and one under Doug Pederson, so he should be able to riff with Nagy, a Reid disciple.

Running Backs

Starter: Jordan Howard
Backup(s): Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, Taquan Mizzell
Fullback(s): Michael Burton

Starting RB: After a breakout rookie season in 2016, Jordan Howard confirmed his status as a quality NFL starter in 2017 with more than 1,200 total yards and again showing strong ball security and the ability to hold up to a big workload. Howard did see regression with a substantial drop in yards-per-carry and his efficiency as a receiver was nearly cut in half to an anemic 5.4 yards-per-catch. Without a prototypically-sized challenger to his starting role, Howard projects as a sturdy volume and touchdown bet in 2018.

Backup RBs: Tarik Cohen burst onto the season as a 2017 rookie with more than 100 total yards in his debut. Cohen's impact was more sporadic throughout the season, however, and mostly relying on big plays to log a quality performance. Cohen is a sub-sized back but an elite workhorse in college. Cohen dominated the receiving work in Chicago's backfield, siphoning a chunk of starter Jordan Howard's previous monopoly in 2016.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel
Backups: Josh Bellamy, Anthony Miller [R], Kevin White

Starting WRs: Allen Robinson was the headline free agent signing by Chicago, bolstering a wide receiver depth chart in transition the past season or two. Robinson is returning from an early season ACL injury and a down 2016 season where his production dropped substantially from a breakout 1,400-yard and 14-touchdown campaign in 2015. Robinson offers a jump ball and deep threat presence for developing Mitchell Trubisky on an offense with a run game base. Taylor Gabriel is also new to Chicago's offense for 2018. Gabriel is a speed-based receiver in small frame, relying on acceleration and separation to win downfield. Gabriel was at his best on the Kyle Shanahan-led Falcons offense in 2016 before coming back down to earth last season. Gabriel is not an ideal No.2 receiver, but may be forced into a larger role if Kevin White does not develop into a reliable weapon beyond Allen Robinson.

Backup WRs: Josh Bellamy and Bennie Fowler are depth NFL wide receivers at best. Bellamy has a thick build and enters his fifth season in Chicago, topping out with a career high 376 yards in 2017. Fowler comes to Chicago from Denver, posting his best season also in 2017 with 350 yards in the same thick build archetype. Anthony Miller is an incoming rookie, drafted by the Bears in the second round. While on the old side as a prospect and lacking athleticism, Miller is one of the more refined receivers of the 2018 class to carve a meaningful role behind Allen Robinson during his rookie season. Kevin White remains a relative unknown three seasons into his NFL career, limited to five games due to injury. White has the draft pedigree as the former No.7 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but is on a short leash due to his durability concerns and the Bears did not pick up White's fifth-year option for 2019 as expected. With Allen Robinson's signing, White will challenge for the No.2 role more than the No.1 position available the past two seasons. White has strong measured athleticism from the pre-draft process, but has yet to show the speed or separation with his limited NFL tape.

Tight Ends

Starters: Trey Burton
Backups: Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims

Trey Burton received a substantial free agent contract in the offseason. The former Eagles tight end has a limited profile of production, however, as the backup to Zach Ertz. Burton has 629 career receiving yards over 61 games, but projects as the move tight end in a two-tight end attack. Adam Shaheen is the two-way tight end on the depth chart, the second round pick from 2017. Shaheen was an elite small school producer in college and possesses a huge frame and decent movement for his size. Dion Sims is the veteran backup of the depth chart, entering his sixth NFL season and yet to surpass 300 yards in a season as a middling athlete.

Place Kicker

Cody Parkey: The Bears made an aggressive move in free agency to avoid the kicker woes that plagued them in 2017. They signed Cody Parkey to a four-year, 15 million dollar deal with 9 million guaranteed, after he made 21 of 23 field goal attempts for Miami last year. The Bears have been among the bottom in the league in field goal attempts the last two years, but the Rams were in 2016 and ended up second in attempts last year after an offensive coaching staff overhaul similar to the one the Bears underwent this offseason. Keep Parkey on your early season waiver wire and bye/injury fill-in list.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson

An undersized lightning bolt, Tarik Cohen made an instant impact on Chicago's offense in week 1 last year, then spent most of the season trying to recapture that spark. His offensive production might have wavered, but Cohen was a rock in the return game.

Punt Returners: Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson

An undersized lightning bolt, Tarik Cohen made an instant impact on Chicago's offense in week 1 last year, then spent most of the season trying to recapture that spark. His offensive production might have wavered, but Cohen was a rock in the return game.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Charles Leno, LG Bradley Sowell, C Cody Whitehair, RG Kyle Long, RT Bobbie Massie
Key Backups: Hroniss Grasu, James Daniels [R], Eric Kush, Earl Watford

The Bears' offensive line is led by right guard Kyle Long, who should be full-go after multiple surgeries during the offseason. The squad lost left guard Josh Sitton to free agency, and Bradley Sowell is expected to fill the role. Center Cody Whitehair is a fixture in the lineup and the tackles are decent: Charles Leno is quietly reliable at left tackle while right tackle Bobbie Massie blocks with strength. Rookie James Daniels arrived from Iowa and could also start at left guard, with Sowell as the swing tackle. This is a mid-tier line heading into the season.

Team Defense

The Bears made a lot of changes on the offensive side of the ball and coaching staff, but Vic Fangio was left intact presiding over a defense that was not the problem in the John Fox years. The team retained transition tagged CB Kyle Fuller after not picking up his fifth-year option, but lost some injury-prone depth at rush linebacker with the departure of Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Pernell McPhee. Aaron Lynch was added to hopefully help Leonard Floyd get after the quarterback from the edge. Fangio was Lynch's coach during his successful rookie season with San Francisco. Eighth overall pick Roquan Smith will carry on the "monsters of the midway" transition at inside linebacker and will provide punch to a unit that produced six sacks from inside linebackers last year. The secondary is in as good of shape as it has been in a while, especially at safety with breakout 2017 fourth-rounder Eddie Jackson sticking as a starter. The Bears fantasy defense was in the top 10 in many scoring systems last year and could be considered draftable with the offense likely improving game scripts for them this year.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Akiem Hicks, DT Eddie Goldman, DE Jonathan Bullard
Backups: DE Roy Robertson-Harris, DT John Jenkins, DT Bilal Nichols [R]

Starting DL: Akiem Hicks has emerged as one of the most valuable players on the Bears defense. He is one of the rare 3-4 defensive ends who can be relied upon as an everyweek starter due to his above-average tackle and sack production. Eddie Goldman is a quality nose tackle who can tie up blockers and still disrupt plays behind the line of scrimmage. While he has some upside as a fantasy option in DT-required leagues, his production over the past couple years has been underwhelming. Jonathan Bullard has shown some flashes early in his career and is the favorite to replace Mitch Unrein as a starter. With just one sack on 437 snaps last year, however, he will need to show some improvement to see consistent work in passing situations.

Backup DL: Roy Robertson-Harris parlayed a strong preseason last year into a key role as a pass-rush specialist and he'll also be in the mix to start opposite Hicks. John Jenkins is a big body who can help against the run and returns as the primary backup to Goldman at nose tackle. Bilal Nichols was a 5th round pick who figures to contribute more on run downs than passing downs.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Roquan Smith [R], ILB Danny Trevathan, OLB Leonard Floyd, OLB Sam Acho
Backups: ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB Joel Iyiegbuniwe [R], OLB Aaron Lynch, OLB Kylie Fitts [R]

Starting LBs: Roquan Smith was one of the best players in this draft class and he figures to carry on the tradition of superstar inside linebackers in Chicago. He does everything well and should quickly emerge as an elite fantasy starter in the middle of Vic Fangio's defense. Danny Trevathan got through the 2017 season despite often playing at less than 100% after recovering from a torn patellar tendon. He figures to be healthier and more effective this year, which should make him a viable LB3. Leonard Floyd came into the league as a raw athlete but he has shown flashes of the dominant player he can become. This should be the year that he starts to put it all together and hits double digit sacks as long as he can stay healthy. The other starting position figures to be up for grabs in training camp with Sam Acho having an early edge due to his experience. He is a reliable veteran who does a lot of things well but doesn' t really stand out.

Backup LBs: Nick Kwiatkowski has been productive when given an opportunity and provides a very reliable #3 option at inside linebacker. Joel Iyiegbuniwe is a small school player with excellent range who could probably develop into a starter in a year or two. Aaron Lynch had a great start to his career in San Francisco but has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. Kylie Fitts is a better prospect than his 6th round pick status suggests and could quickly emerge as a pass-rush specialist here.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Kyle Fuller, SS Adrian Amos, FS Eddie Jackson, CB Prince Amukamara
Backups: CB Bryce Callahan, CB Marcus Cooper, S Deon Bush

Starting DBs: The Bears didn't really try to upgrade the secondary this offseason, so they must feel good about what they have. Kyle Fuller signed an offer sheet with the Packers that the Bears quickly matched. He enjoyed a bounceback season last year and offers a physical presence who plays very aggressively. Adrian Amos took his game to another level in 2017 after replacing Quintin Demps as the team's starting strong safety. He's not particularly strong in coverage and was much more productive when given a chance to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Eddie Jackson is a natural playmaker who made a strong impact as a rookie. He was a great find in the 4th round and has the cover skills and instincts to be a long-term starter at free safety. Prince Amukamara was a key free agent pickup a year ago and can play a shutdown role. He doesn't offer much as a playmaker and has had some trouble staying healthy throughout his career, but he's an above average corner.

Backup DBs: Bryce Callahan has developed into a very good slot corner and figures to play a key role in the team's nickel package again. Marcus Cooper is a bigger corner who has starting experience from his time in Arizona. Deon Bush hasn't shown much to this point in his career but is still young.

Last modified: 2018-06-16 15:30:10