The attention of the Bears has been and will necessarily be on the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. But in the draft, the teams immediately ahead or behind are sources of particular concern, and this year those happen to include the Lions and Packers.Those NFC North division rivals have draft issues that relate directly to the Bears:Detroit - The investment in the defensive line (Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch) point away from the area and toward a secondary that has effectively negated a lot of the pressure from the defensive line. The Lions have concerns at both running back and defensive back and are expected to go for help in one of those two areas.Green Bay - A one-time fearsome pass rush was anything but in 2011 and this draft has a number of prospects who fit the hybrid 3-4 scheme of coordinator Dom Capers. GeneralmanagerTed Thompson has enough firepower on offense and needs to find the answer on the other side from Clay Matthews.Minnesota - With picks No. 1 and 2 out of the way, this is the de facto first pick of the draft. The question forgeneral managerRick Spielman will be whether to get someone to protect QB Christian Ponder (USC tackle Matt Kalil), catch Ponders passes (Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon) or defend other teams passes (LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne). Or trade down and get a lot of guys, including maybe Notre Damewide receiver Michael Floyd.But unless Detroit (No. 23) or Green Bay (No. 28) wants to make a strong move to move up, they are not immediate concerns to the Bears next Thursday evening. Some other teams are, however:No. 18 San Diego ChargersThe Chargers have seen slippage on offense with departures on the line (Marcus McNeil) and at receiver (Vincent Jackson) in particular. Larry English has not developed atoffensive linebackerbecause of injuries, but while it is difficult to see the Chargers going defensive-front at No. 1 for a third time in four years, they have shown the willingness to stock up on pass rushers.Comment: Some concern here for the Bears and their hope for a premier pass rusher.No. 17 Cincinnati BengalsYoure not sure if the Bengals think they got enough in Benjarvus Green-Ellis to replace Cedric Benson but they got results going hard for receiver help last year (A.J. Green) and they have seen the damage the Steelers have done with the ability to strike through the air.Comment: Not a major threat to address pass rush with the kind of player the Bears are after.No. 16New York JetsThe Jets havent taken a No. 1 pass rusher since Vernon Gholston in 2008 and their defense has gotten the worse for it. They have gone defense with their first pick in four of the last five drafts but only once for a linebacker for Rex Ryans 3-4 scheme.Comment: At this point of the first round a couple of good pass rushers are expected to be gone and the Jets are still looking for an elite impact player off the edge.
The Bears offense hasn't gotten off to the start that was predicted over the summer, when quarterback Mitch Trubisky's development was praised by Matt Nagy and his Bears teammates, and rookie running back David Montgomery felt like a lock to provide Chicago with an uptick in production as a do-it-all player.
Instead, the Bears enter Week 7's game against the New Orleans Saints with an undefined identity on offense. Nagy hasn't committed to the run game while the passing offense has been inconsistent at best.
Most of Chicago's struggles stem from the poor play of the offensive line, but even so, there doesn't seem to be any one thing this team can hang its hat on offense.
NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms, who spoke with NBC Sports Chicago this week, said the Bears' lacking identity is one of their biggest problems so far this season.
"The first thing is, have a motto, what are you, what is it, what is the Chicago Bears, have a mantra," Simms said. "We know the Dallas Cowboys, they want to run the ball. You’re seeing up in Green Bay, they made a thing, we’re gonna run the ball, and we’re gonna get in the I formation and come downhill and slowly but surely, they’ve built a lot of stuff off of it.
"I think my concern with the Chicago Bears is there’s not one thing they’re great at, and that’s important, because when you’re great at one thing, what it does is it makes defenses go 'We have to stop that one great thing,' and from there, a guy like Matt Nagy, who’s very smart, he’ll be able to play off of that and go, now defenses are doing this to take something away, and now I can do this, this, and that off of it to combat that plan of attack.
"The running game, there’s just not a lot of patience and persistence with the running game, and I see passing schematics that I think are a little bit repetitive at times, I do think there need to be a few more new ideas and concepts in the passing. But more than anything, it just goes back to find something that’s your bread and butter, and once you find your bread and butter, the defenses have to adjust, and then you can adjust off of that and come up with some creative things to beat that."
The Bears enter Week 7 with the 30th ranked total offense in the NFL, the 30th ranked passing offense and 26th ranked rushing offense. It's a minor miracle (and a credit to Khalil Mack and the defense) that this team is 3-2.
But for Chicago to make a push for the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl run, the offense has to do its part. And it has to start Sunday against the Saints. It won't be an easy task; New Orleans' defense is ranked 10th in yards allowed per game so far this year.
"Find the identity, what is the identity, I don’t know what it is right now," Simms said. "It’s just a bunch of plays and formations every week, I never go, 'Oh this is what they’re trying to do, I get it.' I’m always going, 'I don’t know, it’s underneath the center, it’s a run, then it’s shotgun for four plays, then it’s back to underneath the center and running the ball, and then it’s running the ball out of the shotgun.' I don’t know what they’re trying to get accomplished on a week to week basis."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.
We'd been circling this news all week, and now it's getting closer to reality: late Saturday night, Adam Schefter reported that QB Mitch Trubisky will be under center for the Bears' matchup with the Saints this Sunday:
Bears’ QB Mitchell Trubisky, listed as questionable for today’s game against the Saints due to a shoulder injury, will play, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2019
Trubisky was a full participant in practice from Wednesday to Friday of last week, but had still been listed as questionable up to this point. He returns after dislocating his left shoulder in Week 4 against the Vikings and missing the team's Week 5 loss to the Raiders.
The news comes at a crucial juncture of the season for the Bears, who are currently 3-2 and in third place in the NFC North.