Are The Chicago Bears For Real?
The Chicago Bears are 4-1. Yes, those same Monsters of the Midway that benched Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles own the third-best record in the NFC behind just Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers and Russell Wilson's Seattle Seahawks.
Should you buy the Bears as a potential playoff team? Let's dig in.
You know the old saying: If you have two QB’s, you really have none. So far, that’s been the case for this Bears team. They gave embattled 2017 2nd overall pick Mitch Trubisky another chance to start this season, and while he showed sparks once again, the consistency commonly found in a franchise quarterback was still sorely lacking. In just over two and a half games this season, Trubisky completed just 59% of his passes, averaged a meager 6.5 yards per pass attempts, and unfurled three interceptions. His 56.4 QB rating ranked a measly 23rd in the league.
Foles, despite leading the Bears down the field for a clutch game-winning drive that ended with a vintage Jimmy Graham one-handed endzone snag, has not fared much better. He’s completing 63% of his passes, is averaging 6 yards per throw, and has a depressing QB rating of 41. Foles is on a massive contract, while the Bears can cut bait with Trubisky after this season.
Yes, Foles has struck magic in the playoffs before, but a larger sample size reveals he’s an average to below-average QB, and that is a recipe for disaster come playoff time.
What makes it even worse is that the Bears could have easily solved this problem in the offseason. Instead of giving up a fourth-rounder to acquire Foles — and his $24 million contract — the Bears could have had Cam Newton for the league minimum. In fact, we even said that the Bears should sign Newton back in June. Instead, the Patriots are, once again, commended as geniuses while the Bears are constantly reminded that they traded up for Trubisky when Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were on the board.
Poor Allen Robinson. The Bears’ superstar wide receiver has spent his whole career playing with subpar quarterbacks. Looking at what should have been a simple checkdown last night turn into....whatever this was...is a tough viewing experience:
Allen Robinson badly deserves to play with a good QB. pic.twitter.com/vS3iS5NWhQ— Alex. 👋 (@Dubs408) October 9, 2020
Robinson is a legitimate WR1, but the rest of the receiving corps is a pile of unproven players. There's the promising rookie Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller — who seems to be in coach Matt Nagy’s perpetual doghouse — and a past-his-prime veteran in Ted Ginn Jr. Tight end Jimmy Graham might be having a comeback year, but he still moves like he's running in quicksand.
The offensive line has been surprisingly competent thus far, ranking No. 8 in Football Outsiders’ Offensive Line DVOA rankings. It’s too bad they don’t have a star running back behind them, though. Unfortunately, gadget player Tarik Cohen — who just signed a contract extension — tore his ACL earlier this season, leaving 2019 third-round pick David Montgomery to swallow up all the carries and targets. Unfortunately, he just has not been able to produce efficiently, despite being given gobs of volume. Monty is averaging a paltry 3.9 yards per attempt.
Other than Robinson, this group is simply not good enough to support a QB like Foles.
Da Bears Defense Is Back
After an off year, the Bears defense is back to being legit, ranking seventh in DVOA. Superstar Khalil Mack is having another fantastic campaign. Mack has the second-highest defensive PFF grade at 92.1. The 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has also notched 22 pressures through Week 4, which is tied for third in the league. Not to mention, he’s throwing offensive linemen around like play toys:
Khalil Mack RAG DOLLS Tristan Wirfs for the sackpic.twitter.com/0DlJ4AEMp8— PFF (@PFF) October 9, 2020
While Roquan Smith missed some tackles on the not-so-elusive Ronald Jones on TNF, the former top-ten pick is starting to live up to his draft position while safety Eddie Jackson is still roaming the secondary with the reliable Kyle Fuller. Rookie corner Jaylon Johnson has also been a nice surprise, ranking among the best at his position for rookies. He looks like one of the steals of the recent draft so far.
While the Bears defense looks to be a top-five unit once again, the lack of a consistent quarterback and weapons on offense will derail Chicago's 4-1 start to the season.
It's time to sell the Bears as contenders... for now.
Photo: Getty Images