When predicting where the 2019 offense of the Chicago Bears will end up I had to start with the man that’s sure to account for most of it, so it’s natural that I kicked things off with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. In my last article I went part math and part gut to predict that Trubisky would throw for 4,387 yards and 32 touchdowns. For a little perspective, the Bears as a team in 2018 threw for 3,747 yards and 28 touchdowns, so I’m only predicting the passing offense will increase by 40 yards per game and .25 more TDs per game.
While I think this is the most talented collection of receivers the Bears have ever had, there’s one wide out that has stood out most at training camp so far and that’s Allen Robinson II. The former Pro Bowler is now two years removed from his knee surgery, and I’m expecting him to be Mitch’s go to guy in crunch time. They’ll still spread it around a bit, but Robinson should be the top guy in both receptions and yards.
Last year’s top receiver, in terms of catches, was running back Tarik Cohen, and he had about 20% of the team’s receptions. Giving Robinson a touch more than that in my projection would give him 89 receptions. Taking his career yards per catch average into consideration and that means Robinson would rack up 1,256 receiving yards. Since the Bears move him around the offense so much, I think we might see head coach Matt Nagy scheming him into the slot a bit more in the red zone, so his touchdowns go up to eight.
Allen Robinson II: 89 receptions, 1,256 yards, 8 TDs
With the top wide out projected I can move to the rest of the pass catchers, but since Cohen is the most difficult to project due to his do-it-all nature, I’ll do him next. He’ll line up anywhere on the field, but I think Nagy will be smart with his overall usage. His touches, which was 170 a year ago, will still be about the same, but his receptions could be up. So, keeping his percentage roughly the same as a year ago nets him an 80 catch projection. His average yards per catch will be about the same as 2018, so I’m giving him a receiving yards projection of 816 yards.
Tarik Cohen: 80 receptions, 816 yards, 5 TDs
With the expected emergence of Anthony Miller, someone will see a decrease in targets, and that will be Taylor Gabriel. He was targeted the second most on the team in 2018 and he caught a career best 72% of those. But, I see him dropping down to the fifth most targeted Bear in 2019. A year ago, Miller was the fifth most targeted Bear at just under 11%, so if Gabriel has a similar percentage of passes thrown his way, I see it like this.
Taylor Gabriel: 44 receptions, 554 yards, 3 TDs
Even though I still have Miller as the number three receiver, I think he’ll out-target Gabriel. I don’t see him having a huge season, but he’ll get more than a year ago. He showed a knack for getting in the end zone as a rookie and I think that continues in 2019.
Anthony Miller: 54 receptions, 582 yards, 8 TDs
The tight end position is still manned by Trey Burton, and since he plays the all-important U position in Nagy’s offense, his playing time shouldn’t see a dip. He may not have been as big a part of the 2018 offense that some fans expected, but he gave the team a mismatch when schemed properly. He has good chemistry with Trubisky and that’s due to his good hands and precise route running. Burton was smart in finding holes in zones which earned trust from the QB.
Trey Burton: 49 receptions, 508 yards, 4 TDs
The other starting tight end, Adam Shaheen, who is slated to open up at the Y (in-line), has had a disappointing career thus far. Injuries have defined his career, but he has the physical skills to play in the NFL. He has improved as a blocker, but Ryan Pace didn’t draft him in the second round to be a blocking tight end. He has to be an option in the passing game and he has to start to play to his physical traits. But with that being said, I’m not sure this is going to be a big year for him.
Adam Shaheen: 20 receptions, 161 yards, 1 TD
Rookie running back David Montgomery brings an interesting skill set to the team. He’s not only a better receiving option out of the backfield, but he can split out wide. I think, early on at least, that he’ll split time with Mike Davis, but as long as his pass blocking develops like I believe it will, he could get more third down opportunities as the season wears on.
David Montgomery: 35 receptions, 287 yards, 2 TDs
Javon Wims has had a fantastic camp, but with Chicago’s receiving corps being so good, where is Wims going to find playing time? Rookie Wide out Riley Ridley could be inactive most weeks, and gadget player Cordarrelle Patterson will get touches, but not a significant amount.
Other pass catchers: 28 receptions, 223 yards, 1 TD