Bears

Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

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Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

With Phil Emery officially sworn in as the fifth general manager in franchise history, the overriding question turns to how quickly he and his still-forming staff can be about the job Chairman George McCaskey set down in clear terms: winning championships.Emery received the requisite five-year contract from the Bears. It should not take him that long.Unless there are setbacks of the magnitude of the Jay Cutler and Matt Forte injuries in 2011, the Bears should be in the discussion for a Super Bowl trip in 2012. Nothing less.The reasons are simple: Emery takes over a team that was anything but a rebuilding project. The Bears were 7-3 when Cutler broke his passing hand. They had accelerated past the Detroit Lions and were being talked about as one of a small number of NFC teams capable of taking down the Green Bay Packers.Also, Emery is a draft builder, and 2011 showed convincingly that rookies can deliver impact on extremely high levels. If quarterbacks can play and play well immediately (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton), the expectations are no less from other positions on both sides of the ball.
Von Miller (Denver), Patrick Peterson (Arizona), Aldon Smith (San Francisco), J.J. Watt (Houston), all were standouts on their teams defenses. Deeper down in the first round, Danny Watkins was a starting guard for the Eagles; Gabe Carimi was the Bears right tackle before he was lost to a knee injury.Bryan Bulaga was Green Bays starting right tackle when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV a year ago. He was a rookie.Free agency comes before the draft but not surprisingly perhaps, Emery cited the draft first on how this all will be accomplished.The object is adding playmakers and if we keep doing that, and primarily through the college draft, and fill in where we see strengths in free agency, well close the talent gap, he said of rejoining the NFLs elite after one playoff appearance in five years.Emery is now on the clock. And his history says thats where hes most comfortable.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.