Mitch Trubisky named dark-horse to win NFL's Most Improved Player Award

USA Today

Mitch Trubisky named dark-horse to win NFL's Most Improved Player Award

Mitch Trubisky has been compared to Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff all offseason as a player capable of making a big second-year jump after a somewhat underwhelming rookie season.

Goff had a sensational 2017 campaign after a rookie year that had most analysts questioning whether he was already a bust. He responded by throwing for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns en route to a miraculous Rams playoff run.

The Bears certainly hope Trubisky will experience similar growth in 2018, and according to a recent poll of football writers, Trubisky is the dark-horse to win the same award Goff received last year: Most Improved Player.

Trubisky's rookie season last year wasn't awful, but it wasn't good by any stretch, either. In 12 starts for the Bears, Trubisky threw only seven touchdown passes, posted a passer rating of 77.5 and went 4-8.

However, Trubisky also had the weakest corps of receivers in the NFL. In the offseason, the Bears added a number of passing-game weapons, including wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton. Chicago also has a new offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy.

The arrow is pointing up for Trubisky heading into the 2018 regular season. He's been adjusting to the highs and lows of a training camp that includes the installation of a completely new offensive system while building timing with a plethora of new pass catchers, but he's handled himself with professionalism and class. He's the leader of the Bears. Now, he has to prove to the guys in the locker room that he can turn offseason hype into sustained scoring drives on the field.

Trubisky will make his preseason debut Thursday, August 9 against the Bengals. 

Kindle Vildor dubbed Bears' rookie who could be surprise gem in 2020

Kindle Vildor dubbed Bears' rookie who could be surprise gem in 2020

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a good eye for talent in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. He nailed picks like Eddie Jackson (fourth round), Jordan Howard (fifth round) and Adrian Amos (fifth round) over the years, and the hope is that one of his Day 3 picks in 2020 will continue that trend.

One player who has a chance to exceed his draft slot is Georgia Southern cornerback, Kindle Vildor, who Pace selected in the fifth round of April's draft. He was recently named the Bears' rookie who could be a surprise gem in 2020.

"We stress confidence when we talk about the corner position," general manager Ryan Pace told reporters. "And [Vildor] definitely has that confidence and that playing demeanor that we look for. A skill set that also translates well to special teams, which is going to be important especially in the early part of his development."

The two-time first-team All-Sun Belt performer will have to beat out a few veterans for reps, but his man-coverage and ball skills should fit favorably in the Bears' defensive scheme.

While most of the post-draft attention has been paid to another Bears rookie cornerback, second-round pick Jaylon Johnson, Vildor has a chance to earn significant playing time as a rookie. Only Kyle Fuller is assured a starting job at this point, and while Vildor faces an uphill battle to unseat Buster Skrine for reps, there's no reason to bet against him. Pace has always been a proponent of competition breeding the best results and if Vildor rises to the occasion, the Bears will waste little time inserting him into the lineup.

Vildor ended his college career with 94 tackles, nine interceptions and 25 passes defended.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

    NFL, players union agree on 5 year extension for 'Madden' video game

    NFL, players union agree on 5 year extension for 'Madden' video game

    Good news, Madden fans: you can officially continue spending $80 to complain about how the game hasn't been good in years. 

    According to Darren Rovell, the NFL and EA Sports have agreed to a 5-year extension: 

    Rovell says his sources have told him that, 'the deal is worth at least $1 billion to the NFL and $500 million to the players. The deal also includes at least $500 million in marketing commitments over the years.' 

    Congrats to everyone involved! Now more than ever, football fans need some good news. There's no tradition as timeless as throwing controllers through TVs and against walls when your friend runs four verticals with a Y skinny post over and over and over again. Madden exists solely to allow people cover to yell at the TV without the presence of, like, a real reason. What would we do without it?