By: Lucas Sreniawski
The Bears had quite an eventful offseason this year, despite not seeming to have a ton of cap space or many draft picks. Despite this, GM Ryan Pace was able to make major changes on both sides of the ball. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at those changes and figure out if the Bears got better this spring.
Key Losses: ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DT Nick Williams, TE Trey Burton, WR Taylor Gabriel, CB Prince Amukamara and EDGE Leonard Floyd
Key Acquisitions: TE Demetrius Harris, EDGE Robert Quinn, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Nick Foles, SS Tashaun Gipson, WR Ted Ginn Jr., TE Cole Kmet (Draft), CB Jaylon Johnson (Draft), EDGE Trevis Gipson (Draft) and WR Darnell Mooney (Draft)
In 2019, the Bears defense took a step back in two major categories, sacks and takeaways. There are multiple factors for this, including a bad offense allowing other teams to play safe, and injuries along the D-Line. But one of the major plot lines on defense in 2019 was the lack of production from Leonard Floyd. Well, in 2019 the Bears will be replacing Floyd with Robert Quinn, who could easily be the number one pass rusher on most teams in the NFL. Quinn is very capable of reaching 10+ sacks a year, totaling 11.5 last season, and peaking at 19 sacks in 2013 (Khalil Mack’s single season high is only 15). When you factor in Aikem Hicks, teams will be left with brutal choices to make, as they will be basically forced to leave two dominant players single blocked on any given play. One of the things this will force offenses to do is get the ball out faster, allowing all-pros Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller to be more aggressive jumping routes. Speaking of the secondary, the Bears also added Tashaun Gipson to the mix, who can play a true box safety, while also having some decent ball hawking skills to play a deep half or quarter alongside Jackson. The Bears rounded out their offseason on defense drafting Jaylon Johnson in the 2nd round, who seems to be in line to lock down the starting corner spot opposite Fuller, and drafting Trevis Gipson in the 5th round, who could see some time giving a breather to either Mack or Quinn. Overall, the additions to this defense could make them even better than they were in 2018, which is a scary thought.
Defensive Offseason Grade: A
Ryan Pace made a big splash at the biggest position in sports this offseason by trading a 4th round pick to the Jaguars to acquire QB Nick Foles. And look, is Nick Foles a top tier QB? No. But he generally plays solid football and at times in his career has gotten hot for long stretches. With him at the helm, I am reasonably confident that the Bears’ offense won’t make me want to pull a fist full of hair out of my head every offensive series. That being said, the ideal scenario is that Mitch has that light bulb go off in his head and takes control of the offense, but I think that light bulb probably got shattered by John Fox years ago. The Bears decided to address their offensive line problems by hiring a new offensive line coach, so we will just have to see how that goes. In terms of other players added, they hit the TE position hard, famously having ten of them on their ninety-man roster at one point. It is a little funny, but the fans upset that they drafted a TE because they had so many on the roster are probably the kind of people who would have been mad at anything. The fact of the matter is there were no guards worthy of a 2nd round pick where they were, and they had two players they really liked at their spots in that round. But anyway, the Bears added Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham as their major changes to the TE room, and new signing Demetrius Harris will have a role in a blocker as well. It’s hard not to see that position being much improved when the season starts. Elsewhere, they added WRs Ted Ginn and Darnell Mooney for an injection of speed which they were sorely lacking. With Ted Ginn being well past his prime and Mooney only being a 5th rounder, I am a little worried about the speed out wide, but those two combined should at least be able to give them an occasional big play. I’d also expect them to sign another RB at some point, they need a guy who you can use to both give Montgomery a spell, and perhaps carry the load for a game or two if he has a minor injury. All in all, they ended up investing way more on defense than I thought, and way less on offense, clearly just leaning into the strength of their team.
Offensive Offseason Grade: C+
All things considered; the Bears had themselves a pretty nice offseason. They upgraded multiple position groups, and most importantly gave themselves options at QB. I would have liked to see them invest more in WR and Guard, but you can’t address everything, I guess. And one more time, this could be an all-time great defense if these moves pan out the way they should. They have everything, youth, experience, depth, and star power. If the offense can be average, or even flirt with above average, this could be a super bowl team. If they can’t, they’re looking at missing the playoffs once again.
Overall Offseason Grade: B+