Bears

Four reasons to feel optimistic after first week of Bears camp

Four reasons to feel optimistic after first week of Bears camp

The first week of training camp is in the books for coach Matt Nagy and the new-look Chicago Bears. After an offseason full of excitement and praise, the Bears have maintained the positive momentum in practice and have given fans several reasons to feel optimistic heading into the first game week of the preseason.

The Bears will square off against the Ravens in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game on August 2. It'll be the first opportunity for fans to get a feel for Nagy's in-game style and, perhaps, the first look at some of the team's shiny new toys on offense.

Don't be too hopeful for the latter, however. It's highly unlikely Chicago will risk injury to any of its key starters in what amounts to an extra preseason game. Instead, the Hall of Fame game will give guys battling for roster spots an additional week of film for the coaching staff and front office to study.

Regardless of how many reps (if any) starters receive on Thursday night, the game represents an opportunity to build on several positives through camp thus far.

Swaggy Nagy

What a breath of fresh air coach Nagy has been for the Bears and the city of Chicago. He's brought personality back to a franchise that's had its fair share of boring coaches over the last several years. Whether it's his youthful approach to the job or just his natural demeanor, it's obvious that players are buying in despite not yet playing a single game. The Bears have the right guy at head coach. 

Mitch Trubisky is a leader

Trubisky has a lot to prove before he can be crowned a franchise quarterback in the NFL, but he's already established himself as the leader of the Bears in only his second season. In fact, he's brought a lot of the same qualities to the quarterback position that Nagy's brought as head coach. Guys believe in Trubisky's work ethic and character. He really cares about doing what's necessary to win games and he carries himself the right way. Being the face of one of the biggest sports franchises in the world isn't too big for him, and that's a great sign.

Allen Robinson is healthy

It's not often that a player coming off a torn ACL will sign a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency, but that's what the Bears paid Robinson in an effort to inject life into the team's lifeless receiver corps. But in the days, weeks and months after the contract was signed, questions around his health and whether he'd be full-go for training camp lingered. Then came last Friday when Robinson was medically cleared for practice. He's looked sharp and is making plays. While he may not be 100 percent healthy yet, he's nearly there. Whew.

Robinson isn't the Bears' only playmaker

So, it's great that Robinson is healthy. But even if he wasn't, the first week of training camp has proven that Chicago's offense is light years ahead of last season. Taylor Gabriel has connected with Trubisky on big plays down the sideline, Kevin White is flashing first-round pedigree, Trey Burton has put his athletic ability on display and second-round pick Anthony Miller looks like a future Pro Bowler. The Bears finally appear to have an offense that has enough weapons to actually force a defensive coordinator to earn his paycheck.

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.