Bears

Bears view Danny Trevathan as a special leader

Bears view Danny Trevathan as a special leader

Nick Kwiatkowski or Danny Trevathan. That was the choice facing Bears GM Ryan Pace when the offseason kicked off. Both linebackers were set to become unrestricted free agents and only one could return.

Maybe it wasn't much of a choice at all. The Bears re-signed Trevathan to a three-year, $21.8 million deal while Kwiatkoski inked a lucrative three-year, $21 million deal with the Raiders.

"I think Danny's leadership is special," Bears inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone told reporters recently. "I think it's unique. I also think prior to his injury last year he was playing the best ball he ever played. So I think there's a lot of reasons to bring Danny back and I'm excited about that."

Trevathan injured his left elbow in Week 10 last season, limiting his time on the field to just nine games. He ended the year with 70 tackles and one sack. He played all 16 games in 2018 and finished the Bears' 12-4 campaign with over 100 tackles.

"There aren't many other players that guys look up to like they look up to Danny. I think it raises everybody's levels. He had a lot of ownership in the success the other guys in the room had last year because of the way he led. I know he makes me a better coach."

While some Bears fans preferred the youth of Kwiatkoski, Trevathan's ability to quarterback the defense can't be understated. And it's not like Trevathan isn't a really good linebacker in his own right. It's fair to say he's an all-around better player than Kwiatkoski when healthy; he just has more grays.

Trevathan's best season in Pro Football Focus' grading scale came in 2017 when he registered an elite 89.8 tackling grade and an 80.4 overall grade. If the Bears get that version of No. 59 in 2020, the defense might just live up to the expectations it had prior to the start of last season.

Super Bowl or bust? Why Bears' championship formula is backward in 2020

Super Bowl or bust? Why Bears' championship formula is backward in 2020

First, the good news: The Bears can win Super Bowl LV.

Why not? It’s August.

If Matt Nagy can find the right quarterback and Ryan Pace’s play to overhaul the tight end room pays off, this offense could be a ton of fun to watch. And if the addition of Robert Quinn gives the Bears the sort of fearsome pass rush we expect it will, this defense should be among the best in the NFL – and more than good enough to win a Super Bowl.

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There’s absolutely no part of me that’s going to tell you the Bears cannot win a Super Bowl before we’ve seen them practice, let alone play a game, in 2020.

“We want to win a Super Bowl,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “Every day we come into the facility, all our meetings and things like that, I think that our coaches are doing a really good job for everybody to keep that in mind and that's the main thing.”

Okay, but you’re probably waiting for the bad news. I just didn’t want to start with it. Because while it's not impossible for the Bears to make a Super Bowl run, there's a big reason why it feels unlikely. 

The Bears’ formula for winning in 2020, seemingly, is pairing a good enough offense with an elite defense. It’s what got them to the playoffs in 2018 as NFC North champions. It’s what could get them back to the playoffs again this season.

But an “eh, it’s fine” offense coupled with an awesome defense is not a formula that wins you a Super Bowl in 2021. As the last 10 Super Bowls tell us, it pays to have a great offense – and doesn’t matter if you have a great defense.

The last 20 Super Bowl participants, on average, had the sixth-best offense in a given year as ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The average ranking of their defenses was about 12th.

It’s been even more pronounced over the last four years. On average, a Super Bowl team in that span ranked fourth in offense and 16th in defense.

Only two teams in the last decade reached a Super Bowl with an offense outside the top 10 in DVOA (Denver in 2015, Baltimore in 2012 – notably, both teams still won). Eleven of the last 20 teams to make a Super Bowl had a defense outside the DVOA top 10, including last year’s Kansas City Chiefs.

MORE: Why you shouldn't worry about Allen Robinson getting a contract extension

So the Bears, as currently constructed, do not appear built to win a Super Bowl. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done – we’re not all that far removed from the 2015 Broncos hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with the No. 25 offense and No. 1 defense – but recent history suggests it’s unlikely.

That is, unless Nagy can find the success his former peers (Doug Pederson, Andy Reid) had with his offensive scheme. Make no mistake: Offense leads Super Bowl runs, with defense a supporting character. Not the other way around. And it feels like the Bears have it the other way around. 

 

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2020 Bears may finally be unlocking Cordarrelle Patterson, running back

2020 Bears may finally be unlocking Cordarrelle Patterson, running back

When Cordarrelle Patterson signed a two-year deal with the Bears, people were pumped. He had just won a Super Bowl with New England, having morphed into a playable running back somewhere along the way. Already one of the NFL's most unique players, his fit in Matt Nagy's offense was easy to see. His first season in Chicago didn't quite live up to the hype, though he remained one of the NFL's best kick returners. Still, he wasn't featured much in the run game; after running the ball 42 times for 228 yards in New England, Patterson only had 17 rushes with the Bears.

Headed into 2020, it sounds like that may change: 


Patterson's been in meetings with the running backs, not with the wide receivers. And when they signed him to a two-year, $10 million deal before last season, they really had visions of using him creatively. In fact, when he went to sign the contract, he walked in and saw on the board – Nagy had written on the board plays, and creative ways to use Patterson. They didn't get around to it last year. Expect them to get around to it these year. Again, he is in with the running backs to learn everything about the position – the protections, and everything, so when he's lined up back there, you don't necessarily know if he's going to get the football. And Dave Ragone, the passing game coordinator, has been a guy that's been working with Patterson. 

Well that's exciting! Although shouldn't Patterson maybe still be in some meetings with the wide receivers? Like just a few? Don't think we missed the Eddie Jackson comment from Garafolo up front, either. It's all happening.