By: Jimmie Sykes
The Chicago Bears put up a notable fight through seven games, giving fans a lot to give feedback on. A new direction was sought during the off season. Hype behind the moves put this young team under the scope. A new head coach, another nice showing in the draft, additions the offense, and a score with landing Khalil Mack. Players were expected to grow a lot more comfortable in their role and so far it prevailed for the young team.
They’ve played in prime time, lost few close games, and won impressively early on. Right now, the Bears are 4-3 which is good for first in the NFC North. A slow start from Green Bay and Minnesota shouldn’t have been expected to last long. With the race looking to set in, there is little room for error.
Chicago’s defense started good with Khalil Mack leading an impressive surge for them. After their early week 4 bye, their defense fell into a quick slump. The Bears lost two close ones against AFC East opponents Miami and New England.
The defense played good enough despite 0 sacks from Leonard Floyd. The Bears received calls for Floyd’s availability before the deadline, but Floyd remains as he should. This team still needs him to perform better and wreak havoc on his side opposite of Khalil Mack. Akiem Hicks is standing tall as a top defensive lineman around the league. Hicks, 29, signed a 4-year, $48 million extension last year with the Bears. It’s safe to say that he’s exceeded expectations in this defense. They will sleep on Hicks until they can’t anymore. Last year Hicks was in full charge of Fangio’s top 10 ranked defense. He stuck with Although this year he isn’t the main attraction on defense, he’s putting together an impressive year so far.
Khalil Mack isn’t 100 percent as of late. He rooted his team on from the sideline in their game versus the New York Jets. The defense played well in his absence, putting the Jets run-first attack on halt. They forced the rookie quarterback Sam Darnold to make plays, and it worked in their favor.
After recording at least a sack in his first four games, his injury has slowed down production for him. Teams aren’t letting up on their game plan for him despite the injury he’s battling. The Bears are top ten right now in total defense, but without their best player that rank can dip a few spots. Pro Football Focus has the Bears ranked 1st for Highest Graded Defenses. It all makes for an interesting eye on the Bears defense as the season picks up.
Mitchell Trubisky has been under the scope through his first six games in his second year. Week one, he appeared to be a deer in headlights in a divisional showdown against their historic rivals, the Green Bay Packers. He’s made some mistakes, and made up for them as well. Whether it was extending the drive with his legs, reading the field better, or busting out the trademark sleeve, Mitch found a way to improve from the previous week. Trubisky tallied an historical game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mitch put up six touchdowns and 0 turnovers in the game, giving him breathing room and breakthrough in his career. Players like Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff and company was having their breakout parties early on in the season. It all just took time for Mitch.
Since his big week 4 performance, Mitch has 13 touchdowns through the air and 3 interceptions. He’s completing about 64 percent of his passes and he has four targets with 20+ receptions. Not bad, but it’s week of improvement to go. Chicago has receivers and tight ends with speed, precise route running, depth. Their core of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen in the spread has shown to be the way for this offense. Connection issues are still a struggle, but guys of this talent will still find a way.
A true number one still needs to be established despite the threat of a spread attack. The type of player he’s shown to be early on will help correct mistakes moving forward. The more he molds into his offense, the better off they’ll be when this season comes down to the wire.
Jordan Howard needs to pick up production heading in to mid season. This offense has to keep getting him going. He got a nice start in the 24-10 win over the New York Jets. They handed him the ball 22 times, and it was good for 80 yards and one score. It will lead to better management in crucial moments of the game. That is something that lead to three early losses by the Bears. There’s a lot of experimenting still to do with Chicago and their newfound offense, but lets hope it doesn’t get too far away from the bread and butter.
Jordan Howard 2018 stats: 112 ATT 392 YDS 3.5 AVG 3TDs 11 REC 87 YDS
Tarik Cohen has been a reliable option for the Bears out of the backfield. We’ve seen his role increase over the past few weeks, leaving the offense with more juice and fantasy owners excited (like me for one). In the week 7 win against the Jets, Cohen scampered to the end zone for Chicago’s longest play of the season—70 yards. Cohen is on his way to a 1000+ yard all-purpose season, and Chicago fans are loving every moment of it.
Cohen 2018 Stats: 43 ATT 224 YDS 1 TD 30 REC 398 YDS 3 TDS
Chicago needs to stay aggressive in play and stay true to getting better week in and week out. Right now, a playoff push should be set in their minds. It still is a lot of division football left this season. That is where the number one seed from the NFC North will stand tall. The late division games will be crucial for all teams in the north.