We got to talk with our friend Jeff Berckes at Windy City Gridiron to find out what we can expect to see from the Chicago Bears this season. Their second-year quarterback, the only linebacker taken before Tremaine Edmunds, one of the better safety duos in the league and more:
Q: Have you seen the step year 1 to year 2 from Mitch Trubisky?
A: Truthfully, we haven’t seen much of Trubisky in the preseason. New head coach Matt Nagy made a bit of a stir with the local media by deciding to sit his starters for last week’s scrimmage against Kansas City. Personally, I don’t really care about the preseason, but it was a bit of a surprise given the lack of game experience Trubisky has in his career. I think that the Bears are trying their best to not show anything on film to Green Bay as they try to come out and start off Nagy’s career in the best way possible - a win against the rivals in green and yellow.
What I’d like to see this year is a growing command of the new offense, the ability to be a multi-dimensional threat, and building a rapport with all the new weapons surrounding him. Say what you will about general manager Ryan Pace, but he went out and surrounded Trubisky with professional receivers after he was throwing to replacement-level players all 2017.
Q: Being what most people thought as the best linebacker in the 2018 draft, what are your expectations for Roquan Smith this season?
A: After a holdout to start his career, Roquan is a bit behind the rest of the team in getting ready for the season. The Bears have two inside linebackers that will hold down the fort until he can get up to game speed and take over one of the starting jobs, so it’s not like the Bears coaching staff has to rush him out there. I think the biggest thing that Roquan is going to bring to the team in his rookie year is speed and the ability to make game-changing plays. The one thing about the Bears defense under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is a lack of turnovers. Increasing the team speed usually leads to more impactful plays. In the long run, I think the goal is for Smith to have the level of impact that Patrick Willis did for Fangio’s San Francisco defenses. That’s a high bar but an appropriate one for a linebacker taken in the top ten.
Q: What do you think the revamped group of pass-catchers will do for the overall offense and Trubisky’s growth?
A: I love it. It was the perfect set of signings on paper. I had been pining for Allen Robinson the moment he went down with his ACL injury – which is admittedly a weird thing to say. My thinking at the time was that the Jaguars would let him walk and a true number 1 wide receiver would hit the market in a time of need for the Bears. Amazingly, Robinson was targeted and signed and my offseason kicked off to great happiness. The Bears also inked Trey Burton from the Eagles and Taylor Gabriel from the Falcons. Burton is tabbed to fill the Travis Kelce role in the new Bears offense while Gabriel adds a speed element the Bears haven’t had in years. Both guys seemed like perfect fits for their roles. In fact, Burton was such an obvious target to Bears fans that by the time he signed, it was met with a collective “yeah, of course.” Finally, the Bears drafted Anthony Miller in the second round of the draft this year out of Memphis. This guy is going to turn some heads and has the inside track of becoming a universal fan favorite in short order. The Bears had arguably the worst group of pass catchers in the league in 2017 but now have an exciting group of playmakers set to execute a new, fresh scheme and I’m all in on them. That’s only going to aid in Trubisky’s growth and if nothing else, can act as a mask for his growing pains.
Q: The Bears have one of the better young safety tandems in the league, what do you expect from Amos and Jackson that will bring them to the next level?
A: Adrian Amos is a solid player who seems to grade out really well by the Pro Football Focus metrics. He doesn’t stand out to me as a dynamic playmaker but rather a guy who knows his role and does his job with consistency. That’s a very good characteristic in a safety. The playmaking side of the duo will likely come from Eddie Jackson. The Alabama product fell in the draft due to an injury in 2016 but was able to compete and win the FS job last year. He had two TDs in the Panthers game a year ago but finished the year with only two interceptions. I’d expect him to make a leap this year to make a few more plays as he settles into the defense. Having a solid duo on the back end is such a refreshing change of pace as the Bears safety play has been an Achilles heel for years, with a steady stream of disappointing mid-round picks cycling on and off the roster. It appears the Bears have finally achieved continuity, now it’s time for them to become playmakers.
Q: What are your hopes for the Bears this season leading up to when the Bears travel to Buffalo in week 9?
A: If you had to pick an easier half of the schedule, it would appear to be the first half for the Bears. Interestingly enough, the Bears play the entire AFC East in four straight weeks coming out of their Week 5 bye. In general, I’d like to see the Bears defense establish itself as a good unit with the ability to take over games. I’d like to see Trubisky take command of the new offense and be able to use the skill sets of all the playmakers surrounding him. Overall, I’d like to see this team put a competitive product on the field and win more games than it loses meaning a 4-3 or, ~*gasp*~, 5-2 record by the time they pack their bags for Buffalo.