2020 Chicago Bears Outlook
After a breakthrough season in 2018 (12-4), the Chicago Bears slipped to 8-8 last year because a fade offensively (29th in points scored – 280 and yards gained). They scored 141 fewer points than in 2018 (421).
Chicago brought in Matt Nagy to be the head coach after a successful 2017 season as the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. Nagy had ten seasons of NFL experience working under Andy Reid. He has a 20-12 record over two years as a head coach with one appearance in the playoffs.
Bill Lazor takes over as the offensive coordinator after spending 2019 as an analyst for Penn State. He has four seasons of offensive coordinator experience. His NFL career started in 2003 while coaching in the league for 13 years.
The Bears' defense slipped to fourth in points allowed (298) and eighth in yards allowed while being less opportunistic.
Chicago brought in Chuck Pagano to take over the defense in 2019. His 2011 success as the Ravens' defensive coordinator helped him earn the head coaching job for Colts for six seasons. He went 11-5 in each of his first three years with Indy while making the playoffs each season. Pagano faded over his next three seasons (20-28), pushing his career record to 53-43. He has 19 years of experience in the NFL.
In the offseason, the Bears' defense lost S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Tashaun Gipson, CB Prince Amukamara, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, DE Leonard Floyd, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Sherrick McManis, DT Nick Williams, and DE Aaron Lynch.
Clinton-Dix was the best player lost. He played well every year in the league with success in both run support and pass coverage. Amukamara tends to be a league-average player in coverage. Kwiatkowski projects to see playing time on passing downs, but he does play well vs. the run and some production in sacks.
The Bears added DE Robert Quinn and CB Artie Burns to their defense. Quinn will start the year at age 30, but he does upgrade the pass rush. Burns has been up-and-down in coverage while seeing minimal playing time in 2019 for the Steelers.
Chicago moved on from WR Taylor Gabriel, QB Chase Daniel, TE Bradley Sowell, G Ted Larson, and G Kyle Long.
The best two players added to the offense were TE Jimmy Graham and T Germain Ifedi. Graham is past his prime, but he'll start the year as the starter. Ifedi continues to underachieve in area of blocking.
Kmet does have some flaws coming out of college. His release, fight off pressed blocks, and initial quickness invites some questions with his three-down value. When given a free run to the second level of the defense, his game looks much better. Kmet will be a vertical threat with enough size and speed (4.7 forty yard dash) to hit on long plays down the seam.
Johnson has playmaking skills while showing the ability to work as a press corner. His speed (4.5 forty), quickness, and vision add to his coverage area. He gets in trouble at times when trying to cheat by looking at the quarterback eyes. I expect his game to be more reliable as the field shortens. Johnson also gains value when asked to play multiple coverages.
With their first two picks in the fifth round, Chicago added DE Trevis Gipson and CB Kindle Vildor.
Gibson brings an explosive first step while having the power to finish when seeing daylight. His lack of experience and technique leaves him short on pass-rushing moves and the thought process to vary his attack. To make a step forward, he needs to develop his hands. Gibson should offer rotational value early in his career while owning the talent to become an upside player.
Vildor shows strength and speed (4.44 forty) while being slightly undersized (5'10" and 190 lbs.). Just like CB Jaylon Johnson, his play should work well in both man and zone coverages. Vildor will make mistakes in coverage due to his vision falling more into the thinker-mentality, which leaves him late in his decision making. Even with some fight and power, Vildor doesn't fire when needed in run support.
WR Darnell Mooney was the choice with their third pick in the fifth round. His game is built on big plays, but he doesn't have the size (5'10" and 175 lbs.), strength, or hands to be trusted on many plays at the next level. The Bears will look to get him in space or use him on gadget plays where his open-field running could lead to long touchdowns. His speed (4.38 forty) gives him a chance in the deep passing game.
Hambright played tackle in college, but he is expected to be shifted to guard at the next level. His quickness is an edge off the snap, earning his best value as move blocker in a quick-hitting run game. His hands create early wins, but his technique with his feet invites some failure in pass protection.
Simmons comes with experience at tackle and guard. He lacks the bulk (290 lbs.) to anchor on the inside at this point in his career. At 6'5", he should add weight and get stronger, helping his growth and game. Simmons owns an edge in reach while needing to improve his technique.
Chicago dropped to 27th in rushing yards (1,458) with eight rushing TDs and five runs over 20 yards. Their ball carriers gained 3.7 yards per rush.
The Bears slipped to 25th in passing yards (3,573 yards) with only 20 TDs and 12 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 45 sacks and 86 QB hits. Chicago completed 39 passes over 20 yards.
LT Charles Leno
Leno started for the Bears over the last five seasons after getting drafted in the 7th round in 2014. In 2019, he allowed too much pressure on the quarterback while still grading as an edge for the fourth straight year. His play as run blocking took a big hit last year after playing well in this area over the two previous seasons.
LG James Daniels
Daniels improved in both run and pass blocking last year after moving into the starting lineup in Week 8 in 2018. Over two seasons in the league, Daniels allowed minimal sacks. He gains his edge with his quickness and lateral movement. Daniel offers the most upside in a quick-hitting run game while needing to add strength to handle power rushers in pass protection. Chicago drafted him in the second round in 2018.
C Cody Whitehair
Whitehair was one of the better centers in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. Whitehair played left tackle in college while his natural position is at guard. In his first two years in the NFL, Whitehair rated well in run blocking. Over the past two seasons, he regressed in the run game. Whitehair now has two strong seasons on his resume in pass protection and a neutral showing in 2019.
The Bears will shift Ifedi back to guard after seeing action over his previous three seasons after right tackle. He continues to allow too much pressure in the quarterback no matter where he lines up while ranking poorly over the past three years as run blocker. Ifedi does have a first-round (2016) pedigree.
RT Bobbie Massie
Massie missed six games last year, with most coming from a right ankle injury. He had a rebound in his game in 2018, which was a result of success in pass blocking. Unfortunately, Massie has now failed in each of the last four seasons as a run blocker. Last year he finished as a league-average player in pass protection.
Offensive Line Outlook
This offensive line has a lot to prove in 2020 after struggling in all areas last year. The left side of the line added to the center position has a chance to be league-average or better. I don't trust Ifedi to be an asset, but a position change should stabilize his weakness in pass protection. A new offensive coordinator should help this offense move back in a positive direction.
QB Mitchell Trubisky, BUF - Bye Week Fill-in
Despite playing through a left shoulder injury (labrum), Trubisky set career highs in completions (326) and pass attempts (516), but had a significant step back in his yards per pass attempt (6.1 lowest in the NFL – 7.4 in 2018).
Surprisingly, his WR1 (Allen Robinson – 98/1147/7) held value, which left failure behind almost every other door in the receiving game.
In 2018, Trubisky had the feel of a rising QB with slick movements as a runner (68/421/3). We see how that played out.
The Bears have questions at TE (46/425/2), but they did add Jimmy Graham via free agency and Cole Kmet in the draft. WR Anthony Miller (52/656/2) played through his second season with injuries while failing to develop into a top tier WR2.
I expect a bounce-back by the Bears' offense in 2020 while being in the free-agent pool in most fantasy leagues. Viable QB2 if his season starts well. Trubisky had surgery in late-January to repair his labrum issue.
His ADP (260) remains low due to Nick Foles being in the mix to start.
I like the upside of Trubisky, but it comes down to wins to keep the job. On the first run of the projections, I gave him 95 percent of the quarterback playing time, which came to 4,081 combined yards with 25 TDs and 11 interceptions.
QB Nick Foles, CHI - Low Potential
After helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017, Foles only played in nine games over the past two seasons. Over this span, he passed for 2,149 yards with ten TDs and six Ints while gaining 6.9 yards per pass attempt. His completion rate (69.9) ranked above his career average (61.9) over the last two seasons.
In his career, Foles showed the ability to win games in 2013 (8-2), 2014 (6-2), and with Philly (10-3 – including the playoffs). His ADP (222) ranks higher than Mitchell Trubisky in the high-stakes market in mid-June.
RB David Montgomery, CHI - Sleeper (undervalued)
Montgomery wasn't much better than RB Tarik Cohen last year on early downs (3.7 yards per rush), but the Bears still gave him 16.7 touches per game.
His only three contests of value came in Week 8 (147 combined yards with one TD and four catches), Week 9 (76 combined yards with two TDs and three catches), and Week 17 (23/113/1).
Chicago had him on the field for 63 percent of their plays.
Over his last two seasons at Iowa St., Montgomery rushed for 2,362 yards with 24 TDs on 515 carries. He gained only 4.6 yards per rush, which is unimpressive at the college level. He picked 71 catches for 582 yards in his college career. Many of his TDs came on short easy runs while lacking open-field moves and vision to create more significant plays.
There's upside here with three-down ability, but the Bears need to solve their offensive line issues to create more significant plays. Borderline RB2 in draft value (ADP – 52), but Montgomery is worth fighting for on draft day.
I set his initial bar at 1,206 combined yards with nine TDs and 30 catches, ranking 26th.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI - Quality Backup
Cohen had 143 touches last year, but he gained over 20 yards on just two plays. Both his yards per rush (3.3) and yards per catch (5.8) screamed bench role while showing much more upside in both areas in 2018 (4.5 and 10.2).
The Bears' offense struggled in all facets last year, which gives Cohen a chance at a rebound in value this year. Even so, Chicago looks committed to RB David Montgomery (267 touches in his rookie season).
The bottom line here is the Bears' offense needs to play better.
In 2018, Cohen finished as the 11th highest scoring RB (236.95) in PPR leagues (27th in 2019 – 164.10). My bullish projections came to 1,067 combined yards with five TDs and 72 catches as I view him as the second-best playmaker on the team. Cohen looks to be a value in drafts based on his ADP (108) in June.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI - Solid/Safe Pick
The only bright spot in the Bears' offense last year was the play of Robinson. He set career-highs in catches (98), targets (154), and catch rate (63.6) despite Chicago's wide receivers catching only 214 passes for 2,484 yards and 14 TDs on 349 targets.
Robinson caught seven or more passes in eight games while finishing up the year with double-digit targets in five of his last six contests.
His better play came at home (52/646/4 on 82 targets).
He's showing growth in his possession skills while also having the ability to make big plays. Over six seasons in the NFL, Robinson only has one other year of value (2015 – 80/1400/14).
Viable WR2 with his success tied to a rebound in the Bears' fading passing game. Fantasy owners have him priced as the 12th receiver off the table in mid-June with an ADP of 36. His early projections came to 91 catches for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns, which ranked 15th at wide receiver for me.
WR Ted Ginn Jr., --- - Over the Hill (decreased production)
The shine of Ginn being a viable third wide receiver ended in 2017 (53/787/4). He missed 11 games in 2018 due to a right knee injury that required surgery in mid-October. That season started with three steady games (5/68/1, 4/55, and 3/12/1). After returning from a ten-game injury vacation, Ginn caught 11 passes for 176 yards on 21 targets in his three games late in the year.
In 2019, the Saints gave him WR3 snaps for their first 11 games, but Ginn played well only in Week 1 (7/101). Over his final 15 games, he had two catches or fewer in 13 contests while never gaining over 50 yards.
At age 35, Ginn is only a flash player with a diminishing opportunity.