As of Monday afternoon, January 7th, the only uncertainty withe the Bears is: Will Vic Fangio get a head coaching job, or remain with the Bears? There is also the minor issue with their kicker, Cody Parkey. Will they allow him to rebound, or let him go? After that, all arrows are pointing up for them in 2019.
2018 ended with a sudden stop, a thud, as Parkey’s kick hit not only the left upright, but the crossbar. I think they should get extra points for that, personally. Maybe 2 points for hitting the upright, and another point if it goes in? That would change the kicking game now, wouldn’t it? In all seriousness, more things are going in a positive direction than not. Let’s take a look.
Quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky enters his 3rd year, and his second in Matt Nagy’s offense. He should have more confidence, play faster, and the game should slow down for him. This should translate into more accuracy, more efficiency, and less mistakes.
Running back: Jordan Howard will probably return (he would have to be traded, as he will be a 4th year pro). Hopefully Nagy makes him more involved in the offense. Tarik Cohen will no doubt improve with another offseason. He should be able to use his speed more, as he will be playing faster in year two. Nagy will come up with more plays, and different ways to use him.
Wide receiver: We got a glimpse of what 2019 could bring for star wideout Allen Robinson. In the playoffs he put up 140 yards receiving and a TD. Taylor Gabriel should be better in year two. We saw his speed at times, but I don’t think the Bears took advantage of it as much as they will in 2019. Same goes for Anthony Miller, who had a decent rookie year. Javon Wims might get the most benefit in year two. We only got to see Wims in week 17, but he showed some nice route running, and a bigger target for Trubisky to hit. Something they lack in the other receivers, outside Robinson.
Tight end: Trey Burton showed he can be a deadly weapon in this offense, but even he wasn’t used to his potential. As he and Mitch go forward, they should develop more chemistry. I’m not sold on Adam Shaheen, but hopefully he can be on the field more.
Offensive line: The best part of the O-line is they are mostly healthy at the end of the season, especially guard Kyle Long, who is going into 2019 without a major surgery.
Defensive line: They enjoyed a pretty solid season, but have room to grow. Leonard Floyd will be in the last year of his contract. The Bears will either option him, or possibly extend him.
Linebacker: Rookie Roquan Smith had a superb first year. Even though he did not start until later in the season, he led the Bears in total, and solo tackles. This guy should be even better, faster after a year in an NFL offseason.
Defensive backs: Starters Kyle Fuller, and Prince Amukamara had pro bowl years. Eddie Jackson was a superstar who showed a real knack for getting the ball, and scoring. There is a little uncertainty with nickle back Bryce Calahan, and safety Adrian Amos, who are both free agents. There are younger guys they might want to take a look at.
Matt Nagy: We have seen how creative he can be, especially on the goal line. Matt has used almost every member on defense on goal line packages. Mostly on 2 point tries, but we have seen them on actual 1st and goal to go. Year two of his offense should take a huge jump forward. Having your OC and QB on the same page is priceless.
The Draft, and Free Agency: The one downside is the Bears wont be picking until late in the 3rd round. The plus? They have Kahlil Mack, and don’t have many “needs” going into 2019. Nickle back, Safety, and maybe Kicker are all they may be looking for. All three of those can be handled in free agency, the draft, or undrafted free agent signings after the draft.
Silver lining: One of the best things about the loss to the Eagles, might be the way it ended. The Bears, to a man, should feel they let that loss slip away. There was no single area (outside from maybe Robinson) where there wasn’t a let down. Everyone made mistakes. Everyone should be looking at themselves, and asking what they can do better. That fire, that hunger will burn all season long, and hopefully well into the playoffs.