General manager Ryan Pace has done a fantastic job in rebuilding the Chicago Bears. Since taking over the franchise in January of 2015, he has methodically turned the roster over, not only searching for the right type of player for his team, but also finding the right type of person for his locker room. Chicago head coach Matt Nagy recently said that, “We don't have turds on this team," and that zero-turd policy starts at the top with Pace.
Pace brought Nagy on after the 2017 season, and the two of them have made a dynamic duo so far. Pace and Nagy have been in lockstep in building this offense around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and the tone of the entire defense changed when Khalil Mack was acquired about one year ago. Last year Pace won executive of the year according to the Sporting News, and Nagy won coach of the year according to the Associated Press, and in 2019 the arrow is pointing up for this franchise in their 100th year of existence.
There’s been talk of regression from analysts and pundits all offseason about the defending NFC North Champion Bears, and I just don’t see it happening. This team had a slow build to their 12-4 record in 2018, meaning it was done the right way, through acquiring young players via free agency or the draft. There are only five players on Chicago’s 2019 opening 53-man roster that were acquired before Pace took over in 2015. This is a group that has grown together and learned to win together.
Let’s go position group by position group to see if they’re trending up or down from where they were a year ago. The names in bold are this year’s players, and the names in italics were here last season.
QB) Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel (No change from 2018)
Even though this group is the same, just by having the 25-year old Trubisky run the same offense for a second consecutive season will do wonders for his comfort. He know the offense better, he knows his teammates better, and he knows his play caller better, so he’ll be better in 2019. Stock Up
RB) Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, Mike Davis, Kerrith Whyte Jr. (Jordan Howard, Benny Cunningham, Michael Burton)
Cohen is the lone holdover, and a year ago he lined up all over Nagy’s offense. Expect more of the same in 2019, but with Montgomery and Davis being more versatile options than Howard, this group is more dynamic than 2018. Stock Up
WR) Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson (Kevin White, Josh Bellamy)
Just swapping Patterson and Ridley for White and Bellamy is a win for the 2019 team, but when you consider how incredible Robinson has looked in training camp, I see big things from this group this season. Stock Up
TE) Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Bradley Sowell (Dion Sims, Daniel Brown)
Shaheen was on injured reserve to start the 2018 season, and if he can stay healthy, this year’s group is better than the group they opened up 2018 with. Burton’s recent injury is problematic, but the 25-year old Braunecker is a reliable backup, and I’d take Sowell over Sims as a blocker any day. Stock Up
OL) Charles Leno Jr., Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen, Cornelius Lucas, Rashaad Coward (Eric Kush, Bradley Sowell)
A fully healthy Kyle Long makes this group better, but so does moving 21-year old James Daniels to center and sliding Whitehair over to guard. Larsen for Kush is one journeyman for another, but Lucas has looked awful this offseason and Coward is still unproven. I’m worried about the swing tackle depth, but what team isn’t? Stock Up
I simply see no argument made -- short of an injury to the quarterback -- that could paint Chicago’s offense as one about to decline from a year ago. It’s such a diversified attack with no aging veterans on this side of the ball.
Next time out I’m tackling the defense and specialists of the Bears in my 2018-2019 stock watch.