CHICAGO (CBS) — To say that the 2019 season was a disappointment for the Chicago Bears is an understatement. Projected to compete for the division title, the Bears reached the season’s midway point with a 3-5 record and never really recovered. They finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
Many factors contributed to their subpar showing… poor quarterback play, bad blocking, injuries, a strong division. Former number-two pick Mitchell Trubisky deserved a big share of the blame after regressing in his third season. His offensive line didn’t help matters. And injuries are a concern for every NFL team. Some of the drop-off could be interpreted as the rise of their rivals.READ MORE: Two Teens Charged In Clearing Carjacking
The NFC North was one of the NFL’s more competitive divisions last season, with both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers exceeding their projected win totals. And the NFL Draft has only made it more competitive. The Vikings filled needs in the early rounds at wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback and, with 15 total picks, may ultimately turn over almost a third of their roster. Meanwhile, the Packers used their first-round pick on a quarterback to replace Aaron Rodgers, one of the NFL’s best ever, rather than a wide receiver for him to throw to. The Detroit Lions improved with the addition of physical corner Jeff Okudah and versatile running back D’Andre Swift, but it won’t be enough to get them out of the division cellar.
The Bears, with only two second-round picks in the first four rounds, did what they could in the draft. Tight end Cole Kmet in particular should give Trubisky a solid outlet in the passing game. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson could prove to be a valuable starter as well. But a move made in free agency could yield the best return.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup Continues
“I like the the pickup of Nick Foles,” says SportsLine analyst Kenny White. “I think that makes Mitchell Trubisky that much better of a quarterback. I think the competition, makes Trubisky better. And Foles will also give him a lot of experience that he needs to win that job and to succeed during the season.”
Foles is only a few years removed from leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win. And if Trubisky continues to regress, the Bears now have a proven leader who can step in and take over.
As White notes, “the Bears defense was outstanding last year.” And there’s no reason to believe they can’t pick up where they left off, especially with Robert Quinn bolstering the pass rush. But it will be up to Trubisky to manage the game on the offensive side.MORE NEWS: At Least 10 Shot, 1 Killed In Weekend Violence In Chicago
If the Bears’ offense can be more than dead weight, the team will certainly be in the playoff mix come December. Las Vegas thinks they could rise to the challenge, even if their projected win total sits at 8.5 games. ‘Chicago [is] 9-2 right now to win the division,” according to White, “maybe the team with the best odds and the most value to bet to win the division.”