Carson Hanover – 23 Sports

The Chicago Bears come into the 2020 NFL season with more questions than answers. After a surprising 12-4 finish in 2018, the Bears regressed heavily in 2019, going 8-8 with lackluster play from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Bill Lazor was brought in to be the new offensive coordinator as head coach Matt Nagy tries to revitalize an offense that seemed lost at times in 2019. Chuck Pagano retained his position as the defensive coordinator and hopes to continue the dominance displayed by the defense over the past few years. General manager Ryan Pace has made trades and acquisitions this offseason to put his team in the best position to win. Yet if the team again fails to live up to expectations, Pace may be on the hot seat in the next offseason. Only time will tell on whether the team will fall apart or regain the fearsome reputation that they carried in 2018.

The trade for former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars headlines the offseason acquisitions. Despite acquiring Foles, 31, the Bears named Mitchell Trubisky the week one starter after training camp. The question is: how long will Trubisky retain that position? The Bears’ front office brought Foles in to light a fire under Trubisky, who is now entering his 4th season with the team, and to motivate the young quarterback to perform at the highest level he can. The front office also added new pieces around Trubisky, such as veterans Jimmy Graham and Ted Ginn Jr. Also brought in through the draft was Cole Kmet, a promising tight end out of Notre Dame. Those players, combined with wideouts Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, do it all gadget player Cordarrelle Patterson and running backs Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery (who may miss time due to a groin injury suffered in training camp) will give Trubisky plenty of options to throw to. But Trubisky undoubtedly has a short leash. If he is unable to step up and carry the team to victory, the front office will feel the heat from the fans to give Foles a shot. Foles didn’t separate himself enough from Trubisky in camp to be awarded the starting spot, but if Trubisky’s lackluster play ignites the fanbase’s ire then Foles may be the one to step in and give the team a breath of fresh air at the position. The 2020 season will be a make or break year for the Bears offense as it is currently.

The more reassuring aspect of this Bears team is the defensive side of the ball. The signing of linebacker Robert Quinn makes the Bears’ pass rush even more fearsome as he is combined with All-Pro Khalil Mack and Pro Bowler Akiem Hicks to create what shapes up to be one of the best defensive lines in football. Additionally, the Bears have veteran Danny Trevathan and 2018 first-round pick Roquan Smith lining up at linebacker. However, the Bears did take a significant hit on the defensive line with defensive tackle Eddie Goldman opting not to play this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the secondary, rookie second-round pick Jaylon Johnson is listed as a starter for Sunday’s game. Despite being a rookie, Johnson was rated as one of the top cornerbacks in the 2020 draft and may prove to be another mid to late-round steal by Ryan Pace. Kyle Fuller lines up beside Johnson coming off another solid season as the Bears number one cornerback. Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson lines up next to Tashaun Gipson, who was signed to replace Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who left to join the Washington Football Team in free agency. 

Overall, the Chicago Bears defense may be the key to the team’s success this year if the offense continues its woeful ways. It may come down to how many turnovers the defense is able to produce, with the ideal outcome being similar to 2018 when they recorded numerous interceptions and forced fumbles. If the team can recreate that success and improve on offense, the playoffs may be in sight for the future.

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