Bears

Bears Grades: Receivers make minimal impact in loss to Vikings

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Bears Grades: Receivers make minimal impact in loss to Vikings

Like the running backs, receivers were of minimal impact in a blowout loss, although several were able to at least make some contributions even if they were lost in the blizzard of negatives.

Alshon Jeffery did a superb job of working free for a back-shoulder throw in the end zone for the Bears’ second-quarter touchdown. “We did a great job, but [offensive coordinator] Adam Gase and [wide receivers coach] Mike Groh did a great job calling the play and Jay [Cutler] made a great throw.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

But Jeffery was generally shackled by cornerback Xavier Rhodes before the latter injured an ankle and had to leave. After Rhodes left, Jeffery was able to make his catch, his only one of the five balls thrown to him. Jeffery himself had to leave for a time in the third quarter with hamstring tightness, returned but his status for next Sunday in Tampa Bay remains to play out this week.

Zach Miller continued his strong play in the wake of Martellus Bennett’s difficulties, catching all six passes thrown to him by Cutler for 57 yards, although three accounting for 38 yards came on the Bears’ meaningless final possession in the fourth quarter.

Eddie Royal’s return to the field after his knee injury has seen some production but limited major impact. Royal caught 5 of his 6 passes but for just 31 yards, no catch for more than 10 yards.

Moon's Grade: C+

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.

Trubisky: 'I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns'

Trubisky: 'I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns'

The Chicago Bears are counting on Mitch Trubisky to have a breakout season in 2018. His rookie year was strong, but for the Bears to emerge as a playoff contender, the second-year passer must enjoy a Jared Goff-like improvement.

There's no doubting the talent Trubisky possesses in his right arm. And with a plethora of new weapons at his disposal, his production should make him appealing to fantasy football owners. But he may do more than just throw touchdowns.

"I'd definitely like to catch some touchdowns and some passes, that would be cool," Trubisky said at Halas Hall after Wednesday's OTAs. "The sky's the limit with this offense, just the creativeness that these coaches bring, there's going to be a lot of fun plays. We get the base ones down first and hopefully, we can have some fun trick plays."

Trey Burton was signed in free agency to provide a weapon for Trubisky at tight end, but he may end up throwing a few passes before the year is out. He was on the quarterback end of the famous Super Bowl LII touchdown pass (the Philly Special) to Nick Foles and spent time at quarterback as a freshman at the University of Florida.

Don't forget about Tarik Cohen, either. He attempted two passes in 2017, completing one for a touchdown (21 yards) to Zach Miller.

Trubisky is the kind of rare athlete at quarterback who an offensive coordinator can legitimately devise a few trick plays for, adding just another wrinkle in the new-era of Bears offensive football set to launch in September.