The day after Khalil Mack got traded to the Chicago Bears I went to work and declared that I thought the Bears had a shot at making the playoffs this season. The next day my coworker told my boss, a Packers fan, that I thought the Bears were a playoff team, he thought I was crazy and for whatever reason that made me mad and I decided to go all in on the Bears making the playoffs. So here is my case.
You should know I am really into coaches, I think they can make or break a team. With new head coach Matt Nagy I expect not just Mitch Trubisky but the entire Bears offense to take a step forward. Last season previous head coach John Fox ran a very boring offense, one that included a ton of handoffs, and very minimal passing. His offense was very predictable because it was very simplistic. For that reason alone I am not going to hold Trubisky to his low completion percentage, and his measly seven touchdowns and seven interceptions against him this season. Now insert head coach Matt Nagy and I expect to see a lot of what I saw the Chiefs do which was multiple formations, runs from the shotgun, multiple receiver sets, among may other things. Nagy is bringing in a much more modern system for Mitch to run, and for that reason alone I believe he will look like a much better quarterback compared to last season, perhaps he could even be the leagues most improved player. If Mitch can actually pass the ball effectively that will open up the run game for both Joran Howard and Tarik Cohen, making the offense very multi-dimensional. It is not far fetched for me to believe this team will have a top 15 offense this year and I believe that is exactly what is going to happen.
Nagy will improve that offense drastically, and I expect defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will have the defense perform at a top 10 level. The front is as vicious as they come. Defensive end Akiem Hicks is an solid pass-rusher and he will give tackles fits in his own right, but he needed a second pass-rusher to help him out, well he got just that in all world pass-rusher Kahlil Mack. I am a Chargers fan, so I know a thing or two about this guy, I am just so thankful he is no longer in the AFC West. Mack is one of the strongest pass-rushers I have seen since watching football, Just look at what he did to poor Brock Osweiler and the Broncos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD4SnKOAMOw. See what I am saying? Pairing Mack and Hicks together is going to be a problem for offensive lines, and I did not even mention Eddie Goldman, a defensive tackle who can block the middle, and take up a center and/or guard to prevent double teams on either Mack or Hicks. This a solid pass rush can make a good defense great. Next up patrolling the middle of the field will be first-round pick Roquan Smith. Smith is going to be an elite athlete who should be able to keep up with running backs in coverage when he is asked to, he should also be able to defend the run, overall he will be an improvement at the middle linebacker position with a very high ceiling. To round at the defense they have a secondary that could be very good.Chicago has some good safeties in Adrian Amos, and Eddie Jackson, at corner they have returning veterans Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. All four of these guys played together last year, and chemistry is very important for a defense. I expect to see Eddie Jackson take a leap from good to really good, I think with a season under his belt he will be better at diagnosing plays and patrolling the secondary, he is the guy I am most excited about in this secondary because I believe he will be the player who elevates the secondary to a higher level, he will be their engine that comes through for the back half of the defense when the pass rush gets can’t get through.
The offensive and defensive improvement is not the only reason I am all in on the bears, arguably one of the most important factors for me is their schedule. Outside of playing the Vikings twice I don’t think their schedule is particularly hard. They have a real shot at starting the season 4–1 with games against the Packers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Dolphins. If they start out the first quarter of the season hot there is no telling how much that will do for the teams confidence. I believe this team goes 10–6 and makes the playoffs, I think keys to this will be them winning both games against the Lions,splitting the series with the Packers, and going 3–1 against the AFC East.