The Bears need an overhaul. Just years after a nail-biting loss to the Eagles in the Wild
Card playoffs, the Bears are no longer built to contend. Unfortunately, that’s something Bears fans have been hearing for the past decade (playoff appearances in 2010 and 2018), but it seems as though they’ll need to go through a retooling process once more in order to truly be competitive in the NFL.
Why do they need a retool? The first part of the problem is the obvious issue at
quarterback. With Mitchell Trubisky somehow winning the starting job over Nick Foles for this season, the Bears are stuck with what appears to be two backup quarterbacks fighting for the same job. Trubisky has been terrible thus far, posting a Total Quarterback Rating (QBR, meant to be a holistic measurement of extra value created by a quarterback) that placed him 3 st among starting NFL QBs in 2019 and in 2017. And his lack of value isn’t just limited to QBR, either. According to DVOA (Defense-adjusted value over average, meant to provide the value per play that a quarterback would generate over an average or replacement-level QB. Similar to WAR for baseball), Trubisky ranked 27 th among starting NFL QBs in 2019 and 19 th in 2018. You can also look at Trubisky’s passing yardage totals (just 2,909 in 2019!) or any other metric you want and you’ll still find Trubisky is at or below average in each one.
The problem is, Foles isn’t better. In a limited 2019 sample (injury), Foles performed
well below average according to DVOA. Even in 2018, when stepping in for an injured Carson Wentz in Philadelphia, Foles still performed at a level below an average quarterback. So, the Bears absolutely have a problem in the quarterback room. Compounding on the issue is that the rest of the offense, minus Allen Robinson, is also a downright mess. As a total offense, the Bears’ DVOA last season (2019) ranked 25 th among all 32 NFL teams. They held a DVOA rating of -8.8%, meaning that if every player on the Bears was replaced by an average-level player, they would have been better as a unit. Their rushing attack was even worse than their passing attack in 2019, too, ranking 28 th out of the 32 NFL teams. Exacerbating the issue for this season is that the Bears’ top rusher, David Montgomery, was recently injured and may miss Week 1 of the season.
Now, Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy recognized the problem after the end of last season. He brought in an experienced offensive line coach in Juan Castillo and revamped their offensive coaching staff, including a new offensive coordinator. Additionally, the Bears’ offensive line ranked in the top 15 in 2018, indicating that there is room for improvement. And, despite all of their offensive struggles, the defense has been excellent, ranking in the top 10 among all NFL units for the previous two seasons. Led by superhuman pass rusher Khalil Mack, the defense is of no concern at the moment for the Bears.
What is of concern is that the offense is lifeless. Even if the offensive line returns to
form, there are still so many questions marks on the offensive side of the ball that this could turn ugly very quickly. For example – is David Montgomery for real? Does Tarik Cohen deserve the ball more than on passing downs and on the occasional rushing play? There are even more questions about the quarterback situation. Furthermore, the Bears’ wide receiver picture gets very murky behind Allen Robinson. The #2 receiver on the team is… Cordarrelle Patterson? The #3 is the inconsistent Anthony Miller? And over at tight end, their leading tight end is… the ghost of Jimmy Graham?
Behind Allen Robinson, this receiving corps looks questionable, at best. And Robinson becomes a free agent at the end of this season. To sum it all up – no reliable QB, one above-average WR and a whole lot of question marks behind him, and an offensive line that needs to show improvement. From my perspective, this sounds like an offense that needs a complete overhaul. Beyond this season, the Bears need to be in the market for a quarterback, that much is clear. They need to bring back Allen Robinson and support him with talent at WR2, TE1, and WR3. There’s no chance Robinson is going to be tearing it up if opposing defenses know that the ball is coming to him. That’s a whole lot of talent that needs to be brought in. And we haven’t even addressed the RB room, which also presents significant question marks unless Montgomery makes strides of improvement this season.
This isn’t something that can be completely fixed through the draft or through free
agency. I would hate to have to tinker with the defense as it is currently constructed, but the
Bears are in a difficult position, because they don’t have unlimited cap space to spend on free agents and don’t have nearly enough draft picks to fix the team with young talent. Trading from the defense to fix the offense may erase any gains made by acquiring new talent. But, as long as their offense stagnates, the Bears will likely top out around 12 wins (They went 12-4) and may struggle against well-rounded teams in the playoffs.