Bryan Perez

Danny Trevathan says he wants to leave a lasting legacy in Chicago

Danny Trevathan says he wants to leave a lasting legacy in Chicago

Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan is healthy again after missing seven games with an elbow injury in 2019. He's also hungry. The ninth-year pro told reporters on Friday that he wants his name to be mentioned among the list of historic inside linebackers who've donned a Bears uniform.

"I want to be remembered," Trevathan said. "Legacy lives forever. ... There's such a great tradition of linebackers the Bears have. I want to be up there."

Dick Butkus. Mike Singeltary. Brian Urlacher. 

Danny Trevathan?

The reality is Trevathan probably won't be remembered in the same way those other three are. Let's face it, they're Hall-of-Famers. And while Trevathan has yearly Pro Bowl potential, he won't be getting a bust in Canton.

But that's not the point here. Instead, it's the focus and approach Trevathan is bringing to the 2020 season that should rub off on his teammates (say, Roquan Smith?) and bring the best possible version of the 2020 Bears to the field.

The best possible version of Trevathan, according to the linebacker, was nearly on display last season.

"I was just getting started (in 2019, pre-injury). … I’m being serious. I was just touching the tip of the ‘berg," Trevathan said. "How do I get back to that? I never lost it, in my mind and how I feel. How I’m showing right now, I never lost it."

Trevathan's return to health is just one key variable favoring the Bears this fall. Akiem Hicks will make his return, too, after appearing in just five games last year. Add free-agent addition Robert Quinn to the mix, and that's three studs added to the front-seven who weren't with the defense for nearly half the season or longer (in the case of Quinn, not at all) last year. It's going to be fun to watch.

Trevathan has the right mindset. Now the rest of the team has to follow his lead.

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NFL.com sets Bears' best and worst-case scenarios for 2020 season

NFL.com sets Bears' best and worst-case scenarios for 2020 season

It's incredible what an 8-8 season can do to a team's short-term outlook. The Chicago Bears are proof of this. It feels like an eternity ago that Matt Nagy's 2018 Bears went 12-4, won the NFC North, and had an ascending quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, who some analysts considered a darkhorse in the 2019 MVP race.

But then came that 8-8 record last year. Trubisky and the Bears offense failed Nagy's Level 202 course, and with that 'F' came questions about whether this team was more pretender than contender. It's become abundantly clear this offseason (and now into training camp) that the national opinion of this squad is predominantly in the pretender bucket.

NFL.com's recent breakdown of the Bears' 2020 outlook, which included the ceiling and floor for their season, doesn't pick a side. You can check out the complete video here.

The best we can expect from the Bears this year, per NFL.com? 11 wins. The worst-case scenario? Four wins.

Essentially, the Bears will either be really, really good or really, really bad. 

This makes sense, doesn't it? We're entering Year 3 of the Nagy era after an undefined first two seasons on the job; 2018 was awesome. 2019 was forgettable. It feels like it will be boom or bust in 2020.

If we just focus on the NFC North, it's clear the Bears are a legitimate threat to win the division. The Packers are a mess, the Vikings are headed for regression and the Lions, despite massive under-the-radar improvement this offseason, are still the Lions.

Green Bay is in the midst of a cold war between Aaron Rodgers and the coaching staff. Minnesota lost their offensive coordinator and best deep-ball target, both of whom were critical to Kirk Cousins' career year. And as long as Matt Patricia is Detroit's head coach, they'll never be taken seriously.

So, here we are. The Bears will either be the division champs or the NFC North doormat. There'll be no in-between, and that's exactly how Bears fans should want it.

Let's be honest: if Chicago isn't going to have a year overflowing with wins and a potential division championship (which is the preferred outcome of course), it's best for the season to implode and give the organization a better chance at a reboot. That opportunity comes via the NFL Draft and a high first-round pick, where Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields profile as franchise-changing quarterback prospects.

Still, it's hard imagining a defense as loaded as Chicago's and an offense with a quarterback like Nick Foles (assuming he ends up being the team's starter at some point) winning fewer than 10 games. It'll be enough to get back to the playoffs and have the arrow pointing up for the franchise again.

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Bears defense among top five in NFL entering 2020 season

Bears defense among top five in NFL entering 2020 season

When a team's defense features stars like Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, and Akiem Hicks, it'd be foolish to suggest it won't be one of the top units in the NFL.

That's why The Athletic got it right in their recent ranking of all 32 defenses entering the 2020 season. The Chicago Bears check-in at No. 5.

5. Chicago Bears
Last year: 8th

They have the potential to produce the best pass-rushing defensive line in the league. The combination of Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn on the edge will be as tough to block as any in the NFL. And Akiem Hicks (missed 11 games last season) is one of the league’s most disruptive interior linemen. On the back end, the Bears need second-round pick Jaylon Johnson (or someone else on the roster) to be a competent number two corner opposite Kyle Fuller. They have Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson, and Tashaun Gipson could prove to be an upgrade over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. A couple things need to fall their way, but this group has a high ceiling.

Having a high ceiling is putting it lightly. The Bears have a chance to regain their standing as the most feared defense in the NFL, especially if players like Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan play a full 16 games. Remember: Smith and Trevathan have the potential to be the best inside linebacker duo in the NFL. We had a taste of their upside in 2018, Smith's rookie season, but 2019 was a year to forget. Smith missed four games while Trevathan missed seven. 

As for the rest of the NFC North, the Vikings rank 11th, the Packers are 13th and the Lions checked-in at 28th.

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