After a breakthrough season in 2018 (12-4), the Chicago Bears slipped to 8-8 last year because a fade offensively (29th in points scored – 280 and yards gained). They scored 141 fewer points than in 2018 (421).
Chicago brought in Matt Nagy to be the head coach after a successful 2017 season as the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. Nagy had ten seasons of NFL experience working under Andy Reid. He has a 20-12 record over two years as a head coach with one appearance in the playoffs.
Bill Lazor takes over as the offensive coordinator after spending 2019 as an analyst for Penn State. He has four seasons of offensive coordinator experience. His NFL career started in 2003 while coaching in the league for 13 years.
The Bears’ defense slipped to fourth in points allowed (298) and eighth in yards allowed while being less opportunistic.
Chicago brought in Chuck Pagano to take over the defense in 2019. His 2011 success as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator helped him earn the head coaching job for Colts for six seasons. He went 11-5 in each of his first three years with Indy while making the playoffs each season. Pagano faded over his next three seasons (20-28), pushing his career record to 53-43. He has 19 years of experience in the NFL.
In the offseason, the Bears’ defense lost S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Tashaun Gipson, CB Prince Amukamara, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, DE Leonard Floyd, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Sherrick McManis, DT Nick Williams, and DE Aaron Lynch.
Clinton-Dix was the best player lost. He played well every year in the league with success in both run support and pass coverage. Amukamara tends to be a league-average player in coverage. Kwiatkowski projects to see playing time on passing downs, but he does play well vs. the run and some production in sacks.
The Bears added DE Robert Quinn and CB Artie Burns to their defense. Quinn will start the year at age 30, but he does upgrade the pass rush. Burns has been up-and-down in coverage while seeing minimal playing time in 2019 for the Steelers.
Chicago moved on from WR Taylor Gabriel, QB Chase Daniel, TE Bradley Sowell, G Ted Larson, and G Kyle Long.
The best two players added to the offense were TE Jimmy Graham and T Germain Ifedi. Graham is past his prime, but he’ll start the year as the starter. Ifedi continues to underachieve in area of blocking,
The Bears didn’t have a first-round draft pick in 2020. They selected TE Cole Kmet and CB Jaylon Johnson.
Kmet does have some flaws coming out of college. His release, fight off pressed blocks, and initial quickness invites some questions with his three-down value. When given a free run to the second level of the defense, his game looks much better. Kmet will be a vertical threat with enough size and speed (4.7 forty yard dash) to hit on long plays down the seam.
Johnson has playmaking skills while showing the ability to work as a press corner. His speed (4.5 forty), quickness, and vision add to his coverage area. He gets in trouble at times when trying to cheat by looking at the quarterback eyes. I expect his game to be more reliable as the field shortens. Johnson also gains value when asked to play multiple coverages.
With their first two picks in the fifth round, Chicago added DE Trevis Gipson and CB Kindle Vildor.
Gibson brings an explosive first step while having the power to finish when seeing daylight. His lack of experience and technique leaves him short on pass-rushing moves and the thought process to vary his attack. To make a step forward, he needs to develop his hands. Gibson should offer rotational value early in his career while owning the talent to become an upside player.
Vildor shows strength and speed (4.44 forty) while being slightly undersized (5’10” and 190 lbs.). Just like CB Jaylon Johnson, his play should work well in both man and zone coverages. Vildor will make mistakes in coverage due to his vision falling more into the thinker-mentality, which leaves him late in his decision making. Even with some fight and power, Vildor doesn’t fire when needed in run support.
WR Darnell Mooney was the choice with their third pick in the fifth round. His game is built on big plays, but he doesn’t have the size (5’10” and 175 lbs.), strength, or hands to be trusted on many plays at the next level. The Bears will look to get him in space or use him on gadget plays where his open-field running could lead to long touchdowns. His speed (4.38 forty) gives him a chance in the deep passing game.
Chicago took a swing on a pair of guards in the seventh round (Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons).
Hambright played tackle in college, but he is expected to be shifted to guard at the next level. His quickness is an edge off the snap, earning his best value as move blocker in a quick-hitting run game. His hands create early wins, but his technique with his feet invites some failure in pass protection.
Simmons comes with experience at tackle and guard. He lacks the bulk (290 lbs.) to anchor on the inside at this point in his career. At 6’5”, he should add weight and get stronger, helping his growth and game. Simmons owns an edge in reach while needing to improve his technique.
Chicago dropped to 27th in rushing yards (1,458) with eight rushing TDs and five runs over 20 yards. Their ball carriers gained 3.7 yards per rush.
The Bears slipped to 25th in passing yards (3,573 yards) with only 20 TDs and 12 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 45 sacks and 86 QB hits. Chicago completed 39 passes over 20 yards.
LT Charles Leno
Leno started for the Bears over the last five seasons after getting drafted in the 7th round in 2014. In 2019, he allowed too much pressure on the quarterback while still grading as an edge for the fourth straight year. His play as run blocking took a big hit last year after playing well in this area over the two previous seasons.
LG James Daniels
Daniels improved in both run and pass blocking last year after moving into the starting lineup in Week 8 in 2018. Over two seasons in the league, Daniels allowed minimal sacks. He gains his edge with his quickness and lateral movement. Daniel offers the most upside in a quick-hitting run game while needing to add strength to handle power rushers in pass protection. Chicago drafted him in the second round in 2018.
C Cody Whitehair
Whitehair was one of the better centers in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. Whitehair played left tackle in college while his natural position is at guard. In his first two years in the NFL, Whitehair rated well in run blocking. Over the past two seasons, he regressed in the run game. Whitehair now has two strong seasons on his resume in pass protection and a neutral showing in 2019.
The Bears will shift Ifedi back to guard after seeing action over his previous three seasons after right tackle. He continues to allow too much pressure in the quarterback no matter where he lines up while ranking poorly over the past three years as run blocker. Ifedi does have a first-round (2016) pedigree.
RT Bobbie Massie
Massie missed six games last year, with most coming from a right ankle injury. He had a rebound in his game in 2018, which was a result of success in pass blocking. Unfortunately, Massie has now failed in each of the last four seasons as a run blocker. Last year he finished as a league-average player in pass protection.
Offensive Line Outlook
This offensive line has a lot to prove in 2020 after struggling in all areas last year. The left side of the line added to the center position has a chance to be league-average or better. I don’t trust Ifedi to be an asset, but a position change should stabilize his weakness in pass protection. A new offensive coordinator should help this offense move back in a positive direction.
The data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2019, which will work as our starting point for 2020. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2019 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2019.
2019 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2019 Adjustment is based on the 2019 league average and the 2019 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
The Bears have 11 games for their rushing offense that rank close to the league-average. They have two below-par matchups (TB and NO) for their run game while expecting to have success against the Panthers and the Jaguars.
Chicago does have a favorable schedule for their passing offense. Based on last year, I don’t see any bad matchups. The Bears have six contests (NYG, TB, TEN, HOU, and DET X 2) that offer upside for their ability to pass the ball.
Last year the Bears ran a 40/60 split for the run/pass offense. Their offensive line struggled in all areas, which led to struggles on early downs in the run game. Chicago has a top defense, which points a change back to a run-oriented offense while hoping to regain some play-action value in the passing game. Their receiver core still has questions at tight end and their depth at wide receiver.
Here’s a look at the early projections for the Bears, which will be fluid all summer after taking in all injury updates and training camp news:
Despite playing through a left shoulder injury (labrum), Trubisky set career highs in completions (326) and pass attempts (516), but had a significant step back in his yards per pass attempt (6.1 lowest in the NFL – 7.4 in 2018).
Surprisingly, his WR1 (Allen Robinson – 98/1147/7) held value, which left failure behind almost every other door in the receiving game.
In 2018, Trubisky had the feel of a rising QB with slick movements as a runner (68/421/3). We see how that played out.
The Bears have questions at TE (46/425/2), but they did add Jimmy Graham via free agency and Cole Kmet in the draft. WR Anthony Miller (52/656/2) played through his second season with injuries while failing to develop into a top tier WR2.
I expect a bounce-back by the Bears’ offense in 2020 while being in the free-agent pool in most fantasy leagues. Viable QB2 if his season starts well. Trubisky had surgery in late-January to repair his labrum issue.
His ADP (260) remains low due to Nick Foles being in the mix to start.
I like the upside of Trubisky, but it comes down to wins to keep the job. On the first run of the projections, I gave him 95 percent of the quarterback playing time, which came to 4,081 combined yards with 25 TDs and 11 interceptions.
After helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017, Foles only played in nine games over the past two seasons. Over this span, he passed for 2,149 yards with ten TDs and six Ints while gaining 6.9 yards per pass attempt. His completion rate (69.9) ranked above his career average (61.9) over the last two seasons.
In his career, Foles showed the ability to win games in 2013 (8-2), 2014 (6-2), and with Philly (10-3 – including the playoffs). His ADP (222) ranks higher than Mitchell Trubisky in the high-stakes market in mid-June.
Other options: Tyler Bray
Over the first two seasons with Matt Nagy as the head coach, the Bears have struggled to run the ball (3.9 and 3.7 yards per rush). They continue to give their running backs plenty of chances in the passing game (2018 – 101/963/6 and 2019 – 111/663/4). Last year their backs gained only 6.0 yards per catch, which was well below their 2019 success (9.5).
In 2017 and 2018, Chicago’s running backs scored 32 TDs combined or one per game. I expect another 30-percent opportunity for the running backs in the passing game with a rebound on early downs.
Montgomery wasn’t much better than RB Tarik Cohen last year on early downs (3.7 yards per rush), but the Bears still gave him 16.7 touches per game.
His only three contests of value came in Week 8 (147 combined yards with one TD and four catches), Week 9 (76 combined yards with two TDs and three catches), and Week 17 (23/113/1).
Chicago had him on the field for 63 percent of their plays.
Over his last two seasons at Iowa St., Montgomery rushed for 2,362 yards with 24 TDs on 515 carries. He gained only 4.6 yards per rush, which is unimpressive at the college level. He picked 71 catches for 582 yards in his college career. Many of his TDs came on short easy runs while lacking open-field moves and vision to create more significant plays.
There’s upside here with three-down ability, but the Bears need to solve their offensive line issues to create more significant plays. Borderline RB2 in draft value (ADP – 52), but Montgomery is worth fighting for on draft day.
I set his initial bar at 1,206 combined yards with nine TDs and 30 catches, ranking 26th.
Cohen had 143 touches last year, but he gained over 20 yards on just two plays. Both his yards per rush (3.3) and yards per catch (5.8) screamed bench role while showing much more upside in both areas in 2018 (4.5 and 10.2).
The Bears’ offense struggled in all facets last year, which gives Cohen a chance at a rebound in value this year. Even so, Chicago looks committed to RB David Montgomery (267 touches in his rookie season).
The bottom line here is the Bears’ offense needs to play better.
In 2018, Cohen finished as the 11th highest scoring RB (236.95) in PPR leagues (27th in 2019 – 164.10). My bullish projections came to 1,067 combined yards with five TDs and 72 catches as I view him as the second-best playmaker on the team. Cohen looks to be a value in drafts based on his ADP (108) in June.
Other options: Ryan Nall, Napoleon Maxwell, Artavis Pierce
The wide receiver opportunity for the Bears has grown by about six percentage points in each of the last two seasons despite questionable depth. Last year Chicago’s WRs accounted for 69 percent of their overall passing yards and 57.7 percent of their completions. They finished 10th in wide receiver targets (349) in 2019 while showing regression in their yards per catch (11.6).
The only bright spot in the Bears’ offense last year was the play of Robinson. He set career-highs in catches (98), targets (154), and catch rate (63.6) despite Chicago’s wide receivers catching only 214 passes for 2,484 yards and 14 TDs on 349 targets.
Robinson caught seven or more passes in eight games while finishing up the year with double-digit targets in five of his last six contests.
His better play came at home (52/646/4 on 82 targets).
He’s showing growth in his possession skills while also having the ability to make big plays. Over six seasons in the NFL, Robinson only has one other year of value (2015 – 80/1400/14).
Viable WR2 with his success tied to a rebound in the Bears’ fading passing game. Fantasy owners have him priced as the 12th receiver off the table in mid-June with an ADP of 36. His early projections came to 91 catches for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns, which ranked 15th at wide receiver for me.
I’ve been a fan of Miller since he came into the league, but a left shoulder injury that required two surgeries limited his growth.
Last year the Bears’ offense was a mess in all areas. His star did shine in Week 13 (9/140/1) and Week 15 (9/118/1), which may be the signal for his breakthrough year.
Miller also had six games with one catch or less, which led to only five combined catches and 31 yards.
Over the last two seasons at Memphis, Miller caught 191 passes for 2,896 yards and 32 TDs while chipping in for another 94 yards and one TD rushing the ball. Anthony offers a unique combination of strength, route running, and open field ability. I love his moments with the ball and his adjustments to the ball in the deep passing game.
A forgotten player with a lot to prove in his third year in the league. Don’t dismiss as an upside WR5. Miller has ADP of 149 in June as the 52nd wide receiver off the table. I’ll start the bidding at 59 catches for 766 yards and four TDs and hope for more production.
The shine of Ginn being a viable third wide receiver ended in 2017 (53/787/4). He missed 11 games in 2018 due to a right knee injury that required surgery in mid-October. That season started with three steady games (5/68/1, 4/55, and 3/12/1). After returning from a ten-game injury vacation, Ginn caught 11 passes for 176 yards on 21 targets in his three games late in the year.
In 2019, the Saints gave him WR3 snaps for their first 11 games, but Ginn played well only in Week 1 (7/101). Over his final 15 games, he had two catches or fewer in 13 contests while never gaining over 50 yards.
At age 35, Ginn is only a flash player with a diminishing opportunity.
His size (6’3’ and 215 lbs.) and hands should make him a viable threat at the goal line on fade routes. Wims has the wheels and pass-catching skill set to win jump balls in the deep passing game. His route running isn’t where it needs to be with questions in his release against press coverage.
In his second year in the NFL, Wims caught 18 of his 39 targets for 186 yards and one TD.
His route running, hands, and physical style grade well, but he can’t overcome some of his shortfalls in quickness and overall speed. The Bears would like him to develop into a possession type WR with limited value after the catch.
In his rookie season, Ridley caught only six passes for 69 yards, which came after a minimal career at Georgia (70/1026/13) over the seasons.
Other options: Cordarrelle Patterson, Darnell Mooney, Reggie Davis, Trevor Davis, Thomas Ives
The tight end position in the Bears’ offense fell off a cliff in 2019. Their TEs gained only 9.2 yards per catch while scoring only a pair of touchdowns. Jimmy Graham adds another name this year, but his play has been fading since 2016. The addition of Cole Kmet does invite some intrigue, but he’ll need some time to develop.
The two-year experiment in Green Bay didn’t go as planned for Graham. He struggled to score TDs with a diminishing opportunity.
Graham has four catches or fewer in 15 of his 16 starts while failing to gain over 50 yards in 14 contests.
Last year the Bears struggled offensively with the TE position being a part of the problem (46/425/2 on 69 targets).
A new home can’t offset his declining skill set at age 34. The Bears added TE Cole Kmet in the second round in this year’s draft, which steals snaps and targets away from Graham. I only see 42 catches for 461 yards and three TDs with no interest in the fantasy world based on his ADP (279 as the 35th TE drafted).
Heading into college, Kmet had top prospect pedigree for the tight end position. He had minimal chances over his first two years (2/14 and 15/162). His game pushed to an attractive NFL level over ten games (43/515/6) in 2019. Kmet missed the last two contests of the season with a broken collarbone.
The Bears will look to get him in space with motion before the snap to gain an earlier edge in pass patterns. At the goal line, Kmet will invite more scoring upside on delays or misdirection plays when he’s overlooked as a top scoring threat.
I expect him to get stronger and add more bulk, which will increase his value in both run and pass blocking. As of now, Kmet shows some foundation skills to have success as a blocker. He needs more fire or a sense of urgency off the snap while developing the foresight to anticipate where to locate his first target on the move when blocking.
His route running needs work with some questions with his hands when under fire. To be a stud TE, a player needs to own the short areas of the field. Kmet does not have that club in his bag at this point.
Kmet has an ADP of 296 in mid-June as the 64th tight end of the board.
Other options: Demetrius Harris, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Jesper Horsted, Eric Saubert
On draft day in 2019, the Bears traded for Pineiro to hopefully seize the kicking job. He missed all of 2018 with a groin injury.
In his two years at Florida in college, Eddy made 88.4 percent of his 43 field goal chances while missing only two extra-point tries in 58 attempts.
Pineiro made 23 of his 28 field goals (82.1 percent) in his first year with Chicago while recording a pair of misses in his 29 extra-point tries. He made both of his chances from 50 yards or longer. Early in the season, he played through a right knee injury.
In 2019, the Bears scored 30 TDs while creating 28 field goal chances. Possible upside if Chicago plays better offensively.
Chicago’s run defense has a slight advantage in their schedule. They have five contests (IND, HOU, TEN, and MIN X 2) vs. teams that had some success running the ball in 2019. Six of their matchups (NYG, ATL, TB, LAR, and DET X 2) come against opponents that underperformed on the ground last year.
Their pass defense will get tested in two games (ATL and TB) plus the Rams, and the Saints should have success throwing the ball. Indianapolis ranked poorly in passing in 2019, but they should be improved with Philip Rivers starting at quarterback. The two games against the Vikings look favorable for the Bears pass defense.
The Bears fell to 9th in rushing yards allowed (1,632) with 16 TDs and nine runs over 20 yards. Opponents rushed for 3.9 yards per carry.
Chicago dipped to ninth in passing yards allowed (3,554) with 17 TDs and ten Ints. Their defense finished with 32 sacks (18 fewer than 2018). They allowed only 40 catches over 20 yards, which was the fourth-lowest total in the league.
DE Akiem Hicks
Hicks delivered the best season of his seven-year career in the NFL in 2018, where he was a beast in run support while adding 7.5 sacks and 55 tackles. Unfortunately, last year Hicks missed 11 games with knee and elbow issues. Over his previous three full seasons, he had 24 sacks in 48 games while grading favorably against the run.
DE Bilal Nichols
Over his first two seasons, Nichols had 55 tackles with three sacks over 27 games. His game regressed in all areas in 2019 while working as a rotational player.
DT Eddie Goldman
After playing at a high level vs. the run in 2018, Goldman regressed to the league average against the run. He offers minimal value in the pass rush with most of his playing time coming on early downs.
LB Khalil Mack
Entering 2019, Mack has 49 sacks over his last 62 games played. Last year he struggled to get to the quarterback (8.5 sacks – five-year low) while chipping in with 47 tackles. Over his previous two seasons, Mack delivered 11 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and eight defended passes. He remains one of the top run defenders in the league despite some missed tackles.
LB Roquan Smith
Smith delivered on his first-round value over his first 28 games in the NFL after Chicago drafted him eighth overall in 2018. Over two seasons of action, he posted 222 tackles, seven sacks, two Ints, and seven defended passes. Last Smith missed four games with hamstring and pectoral injuries. Even with his plus stats, he did show risk defending the run for the second straight season.
The Bears didn’t find a legendary power linebacker, but they did land an athletic speed player with great vision and anticipation. Smith should offer value in all facets of the game, but he will lose momentum if offensive linemen disrupt his free run at the ball carrier.
LB Danny Trevathan
Over the past six seasons, Trevathan only played a full season once (2018). He has over 100 tackles three times in his career, and he was well on his way to a fourth (70 tackles in nine games) before going down with an elbow injury in 2019. He only has nine sacks in 96 career games while picking up eight interceptions. Trevathan plays well in run support while improving in the pass rush.
LB Robert Quinn
Quinn regained his sack form (10.5 in 14 games) in 2019 after falling short of expectation over his previous four seasons (24 sacks over 48 contests). From 2012 and 2014, he finished with 40 sacks over 48 games. His run defense remains a liability.
CB Kyle Fuller
Fuller has 55 defended passes over the last three seasons. Last year he set a career-high in tackles (82) with three interceptions. Fuller gives up some big plays, and he’ll make some mistakes in TDs while improving as a player.
CB Jaylon Johnson
The Bears need Johnson to emerge as one of their top three cornerbacks in his rookie season. He did have surgery on his right shoulder in early March to repair a torn labrum. Chicago expects him to be ready for the start of the year.
S Eddie Jackson
Chicago signed Jackson to a four-year extension in early January for $58.4 million, but his play failed to match his excellent 2018 season (51 tackles, one sack, six Ints, 15 defended passes, and three TDs). He does an excellent job in coverage while helping in the run game. His one area of improvement is his tackling.
S Tashaun Gipson
In his only season with the Texans, Gipson struggled in all facets of the game. He’s never had a sack in his career (112 games). In most seasons, Gipson added to the run defense. His play in coverage improved over the last three seasons, but he will allow some TDs and big plays.
Team Defense Outlook
The two keys for the Bears’ defense in 2020 will be regaining their pass rush and their offense, making more plays to help control the clock. They did address some of their issues in the offseason. Chicago has some playmakers, which invites scoring ability in the fantasy games. Top-ten option in the fantasy market with more upside if their core stays healthy.