By, Faux John Madden (Special to OddsUSA.com)
The Chicago Bears enter the 2020 campaign looking to complete the first three-peat in league history behind an unrelenting defense and electric offense led by 2017 2nd overall pick Patrick Mahomes.
Our mistake, that passage is from a version of this 2020 Chicago Bears preview that’s actually taking place in a parallel universe where Bears GM Ryan Pace didn’t pass on the first professional athlete to get a half-billion-dollar contract extension, or where he didn’t pass on another incredibly talented quarterback that happened to take Clemson to two-straight National Championship appearances, winning one of them. Our apologies Bears’ fans.
Let’s try that one again…
The Chicago Bears enter the 2020 campaign hoping to find a quarterback on the roster that won’t ruin the best defense the Bears have fielded since … well, the last time the Bears were essentially in this exact same situation where shoddy quarterback play from a young gunslinger would single-handedly torpedo Chicago’s Super Bowl hopes.
Only instead of Rex Grossman in 2003, the Bears graduated to 2017 2nd overall pick Mitchell Trubisky as the harbinger of all their misery.
It’s that fateful decision back in April 2017 that has haunted Bears fans ever since, with the 2019 NFL season bringing the crescendo of this terrible decision as Mitchell Trubisky would squander the play of one of the best defenses in football for a second-straight season, while Patrick Mahomes would lead the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years, and Deshaun Watson would get the first playoff victory of his young career.
On the bright side, at least it made Bears fans forget about how the 2018/19 season ended.
Bears 2019 Season Review
After a 2018 season when the Bears would shock the NFL world and finish 12-4 behind Khalil Mack and a star-studded Bears’ defense, only to have their season end on a field goal attempt that somehow double doinked its way to send the Eagles forward in the playoffs, the expectations for the Bears 2019 NFL season were at a fever pitch.
Many believed the Bears were a contender that was just a steady kicker away from getting back to the Super Bowl. Many believed that another season working with offensive guru Matt Nagy would allow for Trubisky to take that next step in his career and become a franchise quarterback.
And while the Bears would mostly figure out their issues at kicker by bringing on UDFA Eddy Piñeiro, Mitchell Trubisky absolutely did not take that next step to be their unquestioned leader at quarterback, and when compared to the two quarterbacks that would be selected after him, that seemed to heighten Trubisky’s issues even further.
The Bears 2019 season would begin in Lambeau Field where the NFL would kick off their 100th season with the oldest rivalry in the league. That night, the real rivalry looked like it was Mitchell Trubisky versus his ability to get the ball to someone wearing Bears colors. Mitch would only lead the Bears to 3 points in the season opener while throwing for just 228 yards with an interception (which could and should have been more than this), and his confidence never seemed to recover after that.
Trubisky would only top 300 yards passing in a game two times last season, but five times in a game he wouldn’t top 200.
To further compound Trubisky’s issues, the Bears running game was absolutely atrocious last year, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry good for the lowest average the Bears have had since 2007.
The Bears selection of Iowa State RB David Montgomery in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft was expected to give Trubisky a dynamic tandem at running back with the small and shifty Tarik Cohen, but Montgomery struggled to get going all season behind a Bears offensive line that struggled mightily with their run blocking.
Despite the Bears’ many issues on offense last season, the defense once again came out of the gates playing outstanding, at least in the first half of the season before their offensive struggles seemed to wear the Bears defense out both mentally and physically.
Chicago would start the season 3-1, again in large part because of that strong defensive play, but would go just 5-7 the rest of the season and would constantly play like you would expect a .500 football team to play.
Now a franchise that appeared to be on the door step of potentially contending for a Super Bowl is suddenly back to square one, hoping to find a quarterback that will not waste the collection of talent the Bears have assembled on the defensive side of the football.
May Be Converted to Tight End in 2020 if They’re Not Already Tight Ends
QB Nick Foles (Trade/Jaguars)
DE Robert Quinn (Cowboys)
TE Jimmy Graham (Packers)
S Tashaun Gipson (Texans)
WR Ted Ginn Jr. (Saints)
RT Germain Ifedi (Seahawks)
LB Barkevious Mingo (Texans)
TE Demetrius Harris (Browns)
CB Artie Burns (Steelers)
DL John Jenkins (Dolphins)
Not Entirely Clear Why They Left Chicago, But We’re Pretty Sure It Has Something to Do With Mitch Trubisky
G Kyle Long (Retired)
LB/DE Leonard Floyd (Rams)
LB Nick Kwiatkoski (Raiders)
CB Prince Amukamara (Raiders)
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Cowboys)
TE Trey Burton (Colts)
TE Adam Shaheen (Dolphins/Trade)
WR Taylor Gabriel (Free Agent)
Bears 2020 Offensive Preview
The Bears decided the best way to jumpstart their offense in 2020 is to have roughly 65 tight ends on their roster, as the team signed Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris in free agency, while drafting Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet with the teams first draft pick in 2020. At one point in the offseason, the Bears were rostering 10 tight ends, that’s since been whittled down to 6!
Beyond Ryan Pace’s odd fascination with the tight end position, the Bears’ biggest move of the 2020 offseason was acquiring former Eagles quarterback and Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Foles was the Jaguars big splash addition last season, but after breaking his collarbone and then flat getting outplayed by rookie Gardner Minshew, the Jags immediately regretted their $88 million contract that they gave Foles, and thanks to Mitchell Trubisky being Mitchell Trubisky, the Jags were somehow able to talk the Bears into taking Foles and his gaudy contract on.
So now the Bears enter the new season with a potential quarterback controversy in the making, heightened by the fact that with no preseason games we could not see the competition unfold in real-time. It’s anyone’s guess who will start the season opener against the Detroit Lions, but the assumption is that Foles will have a very real opportunity to turn the former 2nd overall pick in 2017 into a backup quarterback.
Whoever is under center for the Bears this season will have to deal with an offensive line that was dreadful a year ago and did little to remedy that situation as the Bears best offensive lineman Kyle Long elected to retire following the 2019 season. The Bears lone addition to the offensive line was signing former Seahawks first-round pick Germain Ifedi in free agency, but Ifedi was one of the worst offensive linemen in football the last several seasons, and that’s not likely to change in Chicago.
The Bears will once again have the running back tandem of Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery and will hope they improve greatly on their combined total of just over 1100 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2019.
Allen Robinson continues to be the Bears’ biggest weapon on the offensive side of the ball, as he managed to have a sensational season with 98 grabs, 1147 yards and seven touchdowns, made even more impressive considering who his quarterback is.
No word yet if Matt Nagy wants to convert his star possession receiver to tight end.
Bears 2020 Defensive Preview
A season ago, the Bears began the year looking just like the defensive group they were in 2018 when the Chicago defense looked to be the class of the NFL. But as the season would go on the Bears defense would gradually begin to show cracks in the dam, and thanks to an offense that would constantly leave the defense on the field to wilt, injuries and overall general indifference to how the season was playing out, the Bears defense would weaken noticeably from its 2018 version.
Vic Fangio leaving to become the head coach of the Broncos is also something that certainly looked to have an impact on the Bears’ defensive performance in 2019.
In 2020, Chuck Pagano will enter his second season overseeing the Bears defense and will have the luxury of fielding one of the best front sevens in all of football.
Once again, Khalil Mack is the focal point of the Bears defense, with fellow pass rusher Robert Quinn joining the Bears after a stint in Dallas. The interior linebackers for the new ‘Monsters of the Midway’ are veteran staples Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith, while the explosive Akiem Hicks returns to anchor the Bears’ defensive line after missing most of 2019 with an injury.
The Bears secondary will again rely heavily on the play from their star safety Eddie Jackson and the play of left cornerback Kyle Fuller. Fuller had a difficult 2019 season after playing at a Pro Bowl level the season before. For the Bears to return to the top of the pack for defensive play, Fuller has to revert back to his 2018 form when he was named a first-team All-Pro and led the league in interceptions.
Regardless of Fuller’s play, however, the Bears defense once again seems to be light years ahead of the offense and will be the catalyst for any success Chicago has in 2020.
Bears 2020 Outlook & Prediction
Chicago still has one formidable defense to go up against, but their season again will come down to quarterback play.
GM Ryan Pace and HC Matt Nagy would love for nothing more than for Mitchell Trubisky to finally live up to the expectations that come with being the first quarterback taken in an NFL Draft, but if the Bears can manage to find the magic that Nick Foles had on his way to taking the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl they’d surely take that scenario as well.
History tells us not to expect either of those situations to take place, however, as Foles has never looked anything like the QB he was during that run to a Super Bowl at any other stop outside of Philadelphia in his career.
Once again, we see the Bears struggling to get anything going offensively, and they will be the same streaky team they were a season ago. The defense is too talented for this team to really bottom out, but the Windy City will have to endure another season where the Bears have a permanent dwelling in the land of mediocrity.
Bears 2020 Projection: 8-8, 3rd NFC North
Bears 2020 Betting Preview
Besides taking the under on every Mitchell Trubisky related prop in 2020, these are the bets we love the most for da Bears.
- Chicago Bears to Finish in 3rd Place NFC North — (+220) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Believe it or not, oddsmakers are projecting the Bears to finish in 4th place in the division in 2020, but we are also pretty sure the Detroit Lions still exist, so we are pouncing on this division finishing position prop that has the Bears finishing in 3rd place behind Minnesota and Green Bay. We like this a little better than their win total, which sits at 7.5 games as of this writing, and we’re excited to lock this in with +220 odds.
- Allen Robinson OVER 999.5 Receiving Yards — (-124) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Despite the major question marks at quarterback for the Bears, Allen Robinson is the one constant on the Bears offense. The biggest key for Robinson is staying on the field, as two of his previous three seasons have been cut short due to injury. The lone exception? 2019 when Robinson went over this number with ease. We think he gets there again in 2020 and continues to emerge as one of the most underrated wideouts in all of football.
- Khalil Mack to Lead NFL in Sacks — (+1400) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Since coming to Chicago, Mack has racked up 21 sacks in two seasons, and with Akiem Hicks back from injury and Robert Quinn added to play opposite of him, we like Mack’s chances to at least be in contention for the NFL sack title. He hasn’t pulled off the feat yet, but at 14-to-1, betting on Mack to get to a quarterback is a fun dart throw you can root for all season.