Bears

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

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USA Today

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

If not for upset Colts fans following the retirement of Andrew Luck, the Twitter mentions of Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit would be a war zone of angry Bears fans who read his NFL predictions for the 2019 season.


In the latest print edition of the magazine, Benoit projects Chicago to finish 7-9 this year — last in the NFC North.



His NFL predictions don’t have a web version as of yet, but he sees the Minnesota Vikings winning the division and taking the No. 3 seed in the playoffs at 11-5. The Green Bay Packers finish second at 10-6 with a wildcard spot, and even the Detroit Lions end up ahead of the Bears at 9-7.



Benoit’s analysis is based on expecting a step back from Chicago’s defense that led the NFL in 2018. He also foresees “mixed results” from Mitchell Trubisky during his second season in Matt Nagy’s offense.


Benoit ranks the Bears quarterback, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all outside of the top 20 position groups in the NFL, with the offensive line ranking 10th. He still likes the front seven as the best unit in the league, but he sees the secondary as average at No. 17.


He’s not the first analyst to forecast regression for the Bears this season, but not many have gone as far to put them at the bottom of the division after last year’s 12-4 breakout.
The pitchforks and torches may fly off the shelves faster than Sports Illustrated magazines in Chicago this week.

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Are the Bears really the 2020 offseason's biggest loser? Bleacher Report thinks so

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USA Today

Are the Bears really the 2020 offseason's biggest loser? Bleacher Report thinks so

Would you describe the Bears' free agency plan as disastrous? 

Bleacher Report would, apparently. In a lengthy piece titled 'Chicago Bears Are NFL Offseason's Biggest Losers So Far,' B/R's Brent Sobleski lays out his case for why the Bears have bungled every move they've made since the season ended in December. Sobleski's take boils down to the idea that "the Bears simply failed at the start of the new league year and had the offseason's worst overall effort." He starts off with, if you can believe it, some Mitch Trubisky commentary: 

The organization dug its proverbial heels in when it came to Mitchell Trubisky ... So, the Bears GM left the door slightly open, and less than a month later, Chicago flipped the 140th overall pick in April's NFL draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Nick Foles. 

Sobleski then goes on to say that the move makes sense on the surface, which is sort of a weird place to start, but OK. It's pointed out that Foles couldn't beat out Garner Minshew in Jacksonville after returning from a broken collarbone, and that either way, Cam Newton – health concerns aside – would have been the better choice. Huh! It was, according to Sobleski, a market misjudgment. 

He then runs back the same argument with Jimmy Graham, which, well, yeah. 

The kicker is a wary warning about Robert Quinn, who reached double-digit sacks for the first time since 2014 prior to signing a five-year, $70 million contract with the Bears. Sobleski argues in favor of younger options like Shaq Lawson or Dante Fowler – neither of which have had better sack numbers than Quinn in any season they've played, but whatever. 

So is it possible the Bears' offseason plan ends up being a disaster? Sure! But also, look around the league: the Patriots just lost the greatest quarterback of all-time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Texans' one-man front office traded a Hall-of-Fame wide receiver – and good friend of their franchise quarterback – to the Cardinals for a running back who's past his prime and attached to an cripplingly large contract. The Titans gave Ryan Tannehill 62 million guaranteed dollars! Are some of Pace's decisions curious-if-not-questionable? Probably, yeah. That's free agency. But given how bonkers the NFL has been the last month or so, rolling the dice on a few depth moves doesn't quite feel like a disaster. 

Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields offer Bears quarterback options in 2021 NFL Draft

Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields offer Bears quarterback options in 2021 NFL Draft

The Chicago Bears don't have a first-round pick in 2021. And even if they did, they wouldn't spend it on a quarterback. It's too soon to re-invest in a first-round quarterback just four seasons after selecting Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in 2017.

That won't be the case next year, however.

The Bears played the right strategy this offseason. They invested a fourth-round pick in a veteran quarterback, Nick Foles, who has enough league-wide credibility to challenge Trubisky for the starting job, and has the confidence from his teammates to win games if he ends up QB1. 

But Foles isn't the long-term answer if he becomes the starter this fall. The Bears will be back in the quarterback market in next year's draft if Trubisky fails, and, fortunately, there will be two high-end prospects expected to turn pro in 2021: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields.

While it's way too early to go through each player's strengths and weaknesses, it's fair to say that both of them possess exciting traits in line with the league's top quarterbacks.

Lawrence, in particular, will be one of the highest (if not the highest) graded players to enter the league in quite some time. Even on the heels of Joe Burrow-mania, Lawrence will be the quarterback front offices view as a can't-miss, generational prospect.

RELATED: How much does Jimmy Graham have left in the tank?

With that in mind, and if the Bears' 2020 season goes sideways early on, would it be better for Chicago to keep an eye on the 2021 draft order instead of push for meaningless November and December wins?

It's a debate that tears fanbases apart. Bears fans are no exception. Traditionalists will argue that every win builds a positive culture, and losses (even if they result in a better draft pick) should never be the goal. 

Draft purists may beg to differ. Why field a roster that continues to finish at or just above .500 when one really bad season could turn into a decade or longer with a franchise quarterback under center?

There's no right answer. And the scars from the Trubisky era, if it ends in 2020, will run deep. Fans will recall the high grades and praise Trubisky received as a prospect and will fear more of the same if Chicago ends up in striking distance for Lawrence or Fields next April.

The responses to this tweet that I fired out on March 28 gives a sense of the split among Bears fans when it comes to tanking for Lawrence heading into 2020:

Even if you aren't the biggest Trubisky fan, and even if you've been loyal to him but fear the floor is about to drop out from under him this season, the best-case scenario for Chicago is for Trubisky to take a big and significant step in his development in 2020.

A winning season, even if it's just nine or 10 wins, led by Trubisky having the kind of year everyone expected from him last season is the ultimate goal. It will give the Bears confidence that they have their young franchise quarterback already in place and will allow the franchise to focus on stacking winning seasons together.

Otherwise, another reboot led by another highly drafted quarterback will be right around the corner.

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