CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Bears, who defied the experts in 2018, have a lot of expectations for 2019, including another division title and a deeper run into the playoffs. (Fans won’t forget the heartbreaking “double-doink” playoff loss in January to the Philadelphia Eagles.)
As the Monsters open the 100th NFL season against rival Green Bay on Thursday, CBS 2’s Ryan Baker looks at the keys to the Bears’ 2019 campaign.
Defense: This is the backbone of the Bears and they have nine starters, including four Pro Bowl picks, returning on defense. “None more impactful that [linebacker] Khalil Mack,” Baker says. Mack accounted from 12.5 sacks and 47 tackles in 14 games. “The question is, can they duplicate that level of success this year,” Baker said, with the addition of new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
Offense: Consistency is the key, Baker said. The team needs to consistently put 20 to 25 points on the board to be successful. Last year, the team managed to escape with three wins when they scored fewer than 20 points, thanks to their defense. The team can’t risk that again in 2019.
Quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky enters his third season in league and the expectation is for him to rise to the next level of elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Last year, he showed his ability to use his legs to complete passes. “He is almost better rolling out of the pocket passing the football,” Baker says. He also picked up first downs on the run, rushing for 421 yards. He needs to be more accurate on deep balls down the field. Last year he often missed those receivers, Baker notes.
Kicker: After a convoluted tryout, the Bears have settled on Eddy Pineiro, for now. Pineiro who had a few hiccups in the preseason, including a bad shank on an extra point. However, he showed he can bounce back quickly from mistake. He did make eight of nine field goals in the preseason.
Prediction: The Bears won’t sneak up on anybody this year. Nobody expected the team to win 12 games and a division title. Now they have a “target on their back,” Baker says. Their schedule is tough-especially in the middle of the season with the Saints, Chargers, Eagles and Rams. Baker expects the Bears to go 9-7 this year, which still may be good enough with win the NFC North again.