Whole Nine Sports

How the Bears’ Offseason Affects the Immediate Future

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The Bears’ were expected to be inactive this offseason due to limited cash and picks, but they made a couple splashes that most people (even Bears fans) weren’t expecting. I figured I could review how their offseason changes will affect the Bears’ upcoming season.

Coaching Changes

The Bears hired a lot of new assistants and a new OC. Reportedly, Helfrich and Hiestand (the former OC and O-line coach respectively) were the main factors to the stagnant run game. The Bears hired Bill Lazor and Juan Castillo to replace them. Lazor has been out of football for a season, so I don’t know what to expect. He did have a nice running game in Cincinnati, but that isn’t a lot to get excited for. Castillo is known for developing offensive line talent and good running games, though we’d have to wait and see how he does for the Bears. The main hire that brings optimism is John DeFilippo, who did a great job as QB coach in Philadelphia. The hope is that DeFilippo can push Foles and Trubisky to be much better than they were.

       Free Agency/Trades

Haha Clinton Dix out, Tashaun Gipson in

Haha Clinton-Dix was the starting FS for the Bears last year. He was fine in that role, but it just seemed off. It felt like Dix just didn’t fit with Jackson’s playstyle, even though he played well. Dix left for Dallas this offseason.  Gipson was released by the Texans, in what I’m assuming was a cost cutting move. He’s still a productive safety though, and he’s a playmaker. His fit with Jackson is a little better than Dix’s plus he’s on a veteran minimum deal, so his addition doesn’t have any real negative effects

Taylor Gabriel out, Ted Ginn in

Obviously, this isn’t an equal move and I’m not trying to imply that. Taylor Gabriel spent most of the season struggling with drops and injuries. These performances didn’t live up to his pay and this led to the end of his Bears’ tenure. The Bears are relying on Anthony Miller to take the WR2 position, while expecting Ridley to step up as well. Ted Ginn was signed to a vet minimum deal to take Gabriel’s place as the speedy, explosive WR on the roster. Ginn’s purpose on the team is to come and utilize his speed to take the top off defenses. Gabriel’s cutting being a success relies on the other WRs stepping up and our QB hitting them. Ginn will help Chicago achieve that goal.

Leonard Floyd out, Robert Quinn in

This is probably the only move the Bears made that they 100% undoubtedly got better. Last season, Khalil Mack suffered through double and triple teams all season due to Akiem Hicks being injured and no pressure being created on the other side. Leonard Floyd struggled with injuries and finishing sacks (he’d get back there sometimes due to Khalil’s help, but to no avail. He couldn’t really generate pressure by himself either) throughout his entire tenure with the Bears. This is where Quinn will come in. Mack hasn’t had an edge rusher at Quinn’s caliber his entire career, so Quinn and Mack should create a dominant pass rush on both sides the Bears haven’t had. Quinn can generate his own pass rush, so he’d be able to win a lot more one-on-ones than our previous pass rushers. Quinn’s success will also free up Mack from constant double/triple teams, and you can’t forget about Hicks either. The Bears coming into this offseason weren’t expected to give a huge contract to anyone, so it came as a shock. The Bears’ use of cap space will probably come back to bite them very soon, so hopefully the risk they took on Quinn pays off.

Fourth round pick for Nick Foles

This trade made little sense to me when it first happened. Now, it makes much more sense. With possible limited offseason training and new coaches, grabbing Nick Foles makes much more sense than grabbing a fourth round QB who probably wouldn’t even be able to contribute this year. Foles can be a starting-caliber QB as he’s shown in the past. This is why the Bears are trying to make him as comfortable as possible, giving him former coaches and a playbook he’s extremely familiar with. His contract is certainly worrisome, but the Bears are trying to go all out to compete before their defense’s window runs out. Don’t be fooled, Foles is certainly the starting QB over Trubisky.

Minor signings

The Bears had a few minor signings that are likely just depth but could possibly play off. They signed Ifedi, who to say the least, didn’t perform very well in his Seahawks tenure. The move to guard will probably benefit him though, and he might see some time in that spot down the line. Trevor Davis was signed, likely due to his special team presence. With Patterson and Cohen, I didn’t really see the purpose of this signing, but extra specialists don’t hurt anyone. Mingo was brought in, but he will probably come in only every once and a while to generate some pressure, but he isn’t much more than a depth piece.

NFL Draft

The Bears had limited picks to work with this draft due to previous trades. The target for this draft was to fill holes in the roster and acquire possible starters that can contribute this season and possibly develop into something better. I believe the Bears reached this goal, though there are a pick or two I feel could’ve been utilized better.

Burton out, Kmet in

The Bears picked the hometown kid Kmet to hopefully resurrect the worst TE group in the NFL this past season. While I don’t agree with where he was selected, Kmet instantly becomes the best TE on the roster. Rookie TE’s aren’t known for producing, but the Bears intention is for Kmet to be an outlier. His production will be “make or break” for the Bears’ tight end position.

Amukamara out, Johnson in

Prince’s tenure with the Bears was streaky at best and it was time to end it. Prince was viewed as the ‘weak link’ by Bears fans last season and he struggled at times. Jaylon Johnson was drafted with the 50th pick, and he’s slotted to fit in as the Bears new CB2. Johnson’s instincts and ability to be on an island was probably admired by the Bears, who didn’t see much of that from Prince.

The rest

Chicago had minimal picks left and they drafted to fill needed roles. Trevis Gipson fills the needed backup rotational pass rusher we lacked, Vindor can compete for the slot CB position, Hambright and Simmons are extra OL that can’t hurt. Mooney was needed at that time due to his extreme speed and explosiveness. I’m not really a fan of the Vindor pick, as I believe that pick could’ve gone to a third string QB. Pace hates having a developmental QB on the roster for some reason and it showed this offseason. Trading up for Mooney while also signing Ginn and Davis doesn’t make much sense to me either, as it leaves Chicago with a crowded WR group.

At the end of the offseason though, Chicago addressed needs that needed to be addressed (besides a young QB). Whether they were the right players is yet to be seen, but I do believe Pace put the Bears in a position to compete for the playoffs this season.