After a disappointing 21-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, the Chicago Bears have nothing to look forward to but the offseason. The defeat highlighted many of Chicago’s flaws they will need to work on before next season.
A big question immediately after the sad performance in New Orleans was the job security of head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. On Tuesday, however, the Bears announced that both Nagy and Pace would stay on another year. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano retired, so the Bears will need to fill that position, but otherwise, this offseason will be focused on the players. Here is a preview of the offseason situation for the Chicago Bears.
Chicago has many needs this upcoming offseason. Their lack of depth was evident in last week’s game, as injuries to key players severely hurt the Bears. Particularly, Chicago has little depth with wide receivers and in the secondary.
With rookie Darnell Mooney injured against the Saints, Javon Wims and Anthony Miller were set to take his place. Miller got ejected in the third quarter and Wims dropped an important, easy catch in the end zone. Both of these mistakes by the young wide receivers were killers to any Bears chance of a win.
At cornerback, second option Jaylon Johnson and starting nickelback Buster Skrine were injured. This meant that inexperienced Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor had to take their places. Both Shelley and Vildor played alright, but not at the level of Johnson or Skrine.
However, the most glaring needs for Chicago are the offensive line and the quarterback. After more than three years with Mitch Trubisky at the helm, it is clear that he is not the answer. His performance against the Saints – 199 passing yards, 65.5 completion percentage and 1 garbage time touchdown – just reaffirmed this. The Bears other quarterback, veteran Nick Foles, proved through 7 starts that he is not the answer either.
The Saints also exposed Chicago’s unresolved issues on the offensive line. At the end of the season, David Montgomery had much room to run, averaging 100 yards per game through the team’s last six games of the regular season. New Orleans quickly humbled the Bears running game, allowing 31 rushing yards on 12 attempts to David Montgomery. The Bears offensive line can open some holes against bad teams, but to compete with the best, they need to improve, particularly at the offensive tackle position.
Addressing these needs
The Bears clearly have many needs. Whether they address them in the NFL Draft, in free agency or via trade, they will need to improve in order to avoid their recent mediocrity.
Chicago has ten draft picks this upcoming year. On paper, this looks like ideal. However, they only have five picks in the first five rounds. Unfortunately, this upcoming draft is very front-loaded with a lot of talent in the first few rounds and not much value later, where the Bears have the most draft picks.
In free agency this season, there aren’t many superstars on the market. Either way, the Bears are projected to have just $-186,775 of total salary cap this offseason. They also have 30 players with expiring contracts, including key players such as Allen Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tashaun Gipson and Cairo Santos. Chicago will need to prioritize resigning the many contributors with expiring contracts.
Lastly, Chicago can acquire players through trades. Multiple quarterbacks are potentially available via trade this offseason. Most notably, superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson might be traded as his frustration with the Houston Texans grows. However, the Bears do not have many assets to give away and it might be unwise to give away the team’s future for one player.
The Bears have many needs this offseason with no easy way to address them. General manager Ryan Pace will need to be creative to fix Chicago’s problems despite the many roadblocks.
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