Are the Chicago Bears quietly a threat in NFC North?
They were supposed to be a Super Bowl favorite in 2019. Instead, the Chicago Bears were a flop from the start.
After going 12-4 and winning the NFC North the year prior, expectations were high. Chicago was hosting the NFL’s season opener for its 100th campaign agains the Green Bay Packers. The defense was phenomenal, but the offenses was almost skunked, scoring a meager three points.
The defeat largely set the tone for the rest of the year. Chicago would play in a litany of close games but find ways to lose with a punchless offense. Third-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky not only failed to take steps forward but seemingly regressed by the minute, throwing for 3,138 yards and 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
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Chicago finished 8-8, a distant third in the NFC North.
This offseason, general manager Ryan Pace was aggressive. Knowing he had limited cap space and no first-round pick, Pace traded for Nick Foles. Foles cost the Bears a fourth-round choice and three years worth of guaranteed money, but Pace was desperate. He needed to land an upgrade over Trubisky, and while Foles. won’t make anybody think or Joe Montana, he’s an upgrade nonetheless.
Of course, one could wonder why Pace decided to pay Foles though 2022 and surrender a pick when Cam Newton could have been had for a song, but that’s another article.
But is the move enough to unseat the Packers or even leap over the Minnesota Vikings in there division?
Probably not. The Chicago Bears are still without much talent offensively. Allen Robinson is the best receiver nobody talks about, but he has nobody to take pressure off him. Inexplicably, Pace made two splash signings in the offseason, and one was tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham, 33, hasn’t notched 1,000 receiving yards since 2013 despite playing with Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
If there’s a bright spot, though, it’s the defense. While the group wasn’t the same under Chuck Pagano in his first year taking over for Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, it was still excellent. Chicago added veteran pass-rusher Robert Quinn in March to pair with Khalil Mack. Up front, Akiem Hicks remains one of the best interior lineman in the game. In the secondary, Eddie Jackson is an All-Pro safety in the prime of his career.
If the Bears are going to stay in the mix with Minnesota and Green Bay, it’s going to be on the strength of an overburdened defense once more.