The Runner Sports

Chicago Bears’ Top Storylines For 2017-18 Season

Football is back! The Hall of Fame game, though boring and mostly meaningless, signifies the return of the NFL. Beginning now is a month of preseason football, after which players will take the field for Week 1 of the regular season. The Chicago Bears had an interesting offseason, to say the least, but it remains to be seen if their moves will pay off. While the preseason may provide us with a couple glimpses of what’s to come, all that matters is the 16 games that actually count. With football tantalizingly close, it’s time to look at the top storylines for the Bears in their upcoming season.

Quarterback Controversy

This could be storylines 1, 2, and 3 for the Bears this season, as all eyes will be on newly signed vet Mike Glennon, and his highly touted apprentice, 2nd overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. The big question is whether or not Trubisky plays at all next season. It has become clear that Glennon is just a bridge quarterback, and for Trubisky it’s a matter of when, not if, he will get to play. My expectation for next season is that the Bears will repeat as one of the worst teams in the NFL, and thus will need to tread carefully with their quarterback situation.

I like to compare Trubisky to a #1 prospect in baseball, currently playing in AAA. If your major league team is terrible, you’re probably not going to bring up your #1 prospect. You don’t want to ruin his confidence, but maybe you bring him up at the end of the season for a little big league experience when the stakes are lower. Ideally, this is how the Bears should approach the Trubisky situation.

Mike Glennon is going to lose games, not necessarily because he’s a bad quarterback, but because the Bears are a below average team, and Glennon isn’t good enough to carry them on his back. As always, the quarterback will get the blame when the team loses, and fans will clamor to get a glimpse of the future in Mitchell Trubisky. If Bears management is smart, they won’t give in to the Trubisky demands. Maybe give him a couple starts at the end of the season, but that’s it. Rookie quarterbacks who have been successful recently all came into great situations. Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, and Dak Prescott are examples. The Bears aren’t winning next season with or without Trubisky, so why ruin his confidence early on? If the Bears don’t handle the situation correctly, they could be looking at Blake Bortles 2.0.

For whoever is under center next season, the outlook isn’t great. While the Bears possess an underrated offensive line and a rejuvenated running game with Jordan Howard, the receiving threats are almost non-existent.  The Bears decided to go with a quantity over quality approach at wide receiver this offseason, and I don’t see it working out well for them. If Mike Glennon can avoid turnovers and actually get the ball downfield with the players he’s working with, the Bears would have to consider that a win.

The reports out of training camp for Trubisky so far have been mostly positive, but it’s now up to the Bears to properly develop him. Throwing him into the fire with a subpar receiving corps is not the way to get that done. In this case, patience, however painful it may be, is truly a virtue.

 

Defense Stuck in Neutral

The most disappointing aspect of the Bears’ offseason was their failure to address the defensive side of the ball, particularly the secondary. They had a great shot at Stephon Gilmore in free agency, but apparently didn’t give him a serious offer.

It will be exciting to watch the progression of Leonard Floyd in year-two, who has been a beast so far in camp. Yet outside of the unproven Floyd, the Bears’ defense is sorely lacking playmakers. Quintin Demps and Prince Amukamara were nice veteran additions, but they don’t come close to making the defense elite.

Expect the Bears to again be middle of the pack defensively. Their front seven looks good on paper, but a lot depends on the health of Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan, both question marks at this point. After steadily improving their defense the last couple of years, that process now seems to be at a standstill. The Bears have good defensive coaching which helps, but the defense could have problems if the offense struggles to stay on the field.

 

Which Wide Receiver will break out (If any?)

If you’re expecting it to be Kevin White, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Cameron Meredith, Victor Cruz, Kevin White, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Rueben Randle, Deonte Thompson. Those are the headliners of the 2017 Chicago Bears’ receiving corps. This group of receivers has some decent players, but all are guys who are more likely to thrive playing with a number one receiver to take the attention of the defense.

As for Kevin White, I’ve given up at this point. Receivers who have been picked in the top 10 with as little success as White has had in his first two seasons almost never pan out. Obviously, injuries have limited White, but I think they have also changed him to a different player than the guy the Bears picked 7th overall. He’s probably never going to be as explosive as he once was.

When he did play in a few games last season, the results weren’t great. He had just 19 catches for 187 yards and no TDs. Most concerning to me was that we saw none of the breakaway speed White displayed at his combine. He failed to separate from defenders or make explosive plays downfield. I’d be shocked if he even makes it through a whole season at this point.

So that leaves the Bears with a group of mostly veteran receivers who have been number three options for most of their careers. The exception is Victor Cruz, but he didn’t look the same last year after coming back from several knee injuries. Perhaps Cameron Meredith has the most potential of the group, and I think he will have a nice season, but will never be a true number one wide receiver. I’m still of the mindset that the Bears made a mistake in letting Alshon Jeffery walk away.

 

The Future of Management

The Ryan Pace and John Fox tandem is 9-23 over the course of two seasons. Instant success wasn’t expected, but their seats are starting to get warm. I think Fox, in particular, is in trouble, as am not sure the Bears will see him as the right guy to oversee Trubisky’s development.

Pace likely bought himself more time by picking Trubisky, but at some point, this team has to win. Parity is one of the things that makes the NFL great. Turnarounds can happen quickly, and that should be what the Bears organization is expecting. With the roster as currently constructed, however, that turnaround won’t be in 2017. This storyline will be something to monitor throughout the season, and I think this will be John Fox’s last season as the Bears coach.

 

Rising Stars

Since the present isn’t too exciting for the Bears, fans should really look towards growth from their young players. Can Jordan Howard repeat his awesome rookie season? Will Leonard Floyd take the next step in becoming one of the NFL’s best sack-artists? Will Kevin White finally show everyone why he was drafted so early? (No, probably not). Will any rookies from this year’s draft class make a name for himself?

Adam Shaheen at tight end is a raw but exciting prospect. Former Alabama safety Eddie Jackson has reportedly been having a great camp, welcome news for a secondary that needs playmakers. If these players can continue improving, the Bears will at least have a couple of cornerstones to build the team around.

 

Have Faith

This article has been overwhelmingly negative, but all may not be lost. The Bears made a big investment at the quarterback position in Mitchell Trubisky, and if he proves to be the real deal, all complaints about this questionable offseason will subside. A backfield of Trubisky and Jordan Howard has the potential to be a dangerous one for years to come. With the rising stars mentioned above, and likely another top draft pick in 2018, the Bears may find themselves relevant again in a year or two.

Luke Chalk

Luke Chalk

I'm a die hard Chicago sports fan and have been writing about the Bears for over a year now. I'm extremely passionate about this team and hope that comes through in my writing. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about the NFL, as my Sundays are spent glued to my couch watching as much football as I can take in. I'm addicted to fantasy football and Madden, and dare anyone to challenge me in either one. I also like dogs.
Luke Chalk