Danny Trevathan

Bears Season in Review: Danny Trevathan

Bears Season in Review: Danny Trevathan

Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan has been one of the defense's most reliable and productive starters since joining the team in 2016 despite an injury-riddled four-year tenure.

Trevathan's managed just one 16-game season with the Bears, as injuries have limited him to 12 or fewer starts in the other three. In 2019, Trevathan suited up for nine games and finished with 70 tackles and one sack.

His season came to an early end because of a gruesome left elbow injury in Week 10 against the Lions and has created doubt about his future in Chicago. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and with fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also on an expiring contract, GM Ryan Pace will be forced to choose between the proven yet injured starter and the young career backup poised to breakout.

It will be a difficult decision for Pace to make considering Trevathan, when healthy, remains one of the NFL's most talented and effective inside linebackers. He ranked sixth on the Bears this season with a 70.9 run-defense grade from Pro Football Focus and while Kwiatkoski was arguably Chicago's best linebacker at the end of the season, Trevathan is more of a proven commodity for a defense that's championship-caliber when he's in the lineup.

But as the old football saying goes, the best ability is availability. And unfortunately for Trevathan, who was Pace's first big free-agent signing as Chicago's general manager, he just hasn't been available enough to feel good about his outlook moving forward.

We may have seen the last of Trevathan in a Bears uniform. His time in Chicago will be viewed mostly as 'what could've been,' but one thing is for sure: The Bears were a better team over the last four seasons with Trevathan than without.

How Luke Kuechly's retirement could impact the Bears

How Luke Kuechly's retirement could impact the Bears

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly shocked the NFL universe Tuesday night when he announced his retirement from the NFL.

Kuechly, 28, is considered one of the best linebackers of his generation. He's started all 118 games of his career with the Panthers, totaling 1,092 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.

Kuechly will be impossible to replace for rookie coach Matt Rhule and the Panthers defense, but they could end up looking at two of the Bears' key free agents as possible candidates, depending on the scheme Carolina runs in life after Ron Rivera.

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Nick Kwiatkoski and Danny Trevathan are both set to become unrestricted free agents and they were expected to have a long list of suitors before the Panthers' sudden need at linebacker. Adding another team to their pool of potential employers will only increase their open-market value and make it even more challenging for GM Ryan Pace.

Kuechly's retirement could force Pace to reevaluate his offseason strategy for either Trevathan or Kwiatkoski and make sure he has his preferred choice locked up before the spending spree kicks off.

It's possible this has been Pace's plan all along anyway. But Kuechly's shocking decision to walk away from the game will focus even more attention on this year's free-agent linebackers; the time is now for Pace to get a deal done.

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New Year's Resolutions for the Bears' offense, defense, and special teams

New Year's Resolutions for the Bears' offense, defense, and special teams

It's Resolution season, baby. Time to set some lofty goals, slowly walk them back by March and forget them altogether by June. What's important is that we said them out loud now, so it counts. The Bears are probably setting some resolutions, or othey should because they finished 8-8. Here are some suggestions, just in case they needed any help, no pressure or anything: 

Offense – Figure Out Who Actually Plays What Position On The Offensive Line 

You'd think this would already be a somewhat-heavily emphasized part of the offense, and yet the Bears cannot seem to figure out where they want Cody Whitehair or James Daniels to play. 

"I think there's a couple of things there," GM Ryan Pace said when asked why the offensive line regressed in 2019. "The injury to Kyle [Long], switching Whitehair and James, injury to [Bobby] Massie late in the year. We struggled in that area this year. That's real, and I think we know it starts up front with those guys. That's something we've really got to look at. From a personnel standpoint we're gonna look at it. From a schematic standpoint, we're gonna look at it." 

Pace also said the team is still "evaluating" the long term plan for both Whitehair and Daniels, so even if the GM is playing his cards close to the vest, it's not a great look that the Bears have found themselves in a sort of no-man's-land with two very talented offensive linemen. For what it's worth, according to Pro Football Focus' grades, the Bears run- and pass-blocking almost immediately improved following the Week 10 switch. Fixing the running game is going to be one of the largest undertakings of the offseason, and fixing that starts with the offensive line. The firing of Harry Hiestand and subsequent hiring of Juan Castillo provides a peek into what direction the Bears are taking this offseason, but there are still plenty of questions up front that require honest assessment. 

Defense – Go To Yoga With Khalil Mack

Akiem Hicks missed 11 games this season. Danny Trevathan missed six, and Roquan Smith missed four. The Bears were due after 2018's injury-free season, but having three All-Pro-caliber starters, all in the middle of the defense, miss that much time was a dramatic swing in the wrong direction. Khalil Mack, however, continues to look stylishly comfortable in all of his yoga gear while playing every game of the season for the fifth time in his six-year career. And even in a "down" season, Mack finished as PFF's 16th-best pass rusher. False correlations? Maybe! But you probably can't go wrong doing whatever Khalil Mack's doing. 

Special Teams – Don't have too much fun in Miami 

I don't know why I titled it that, they're allowed to have as much in Miami as they want. Eddy Pineiro will spend his offseason training in South Florida with Pat O'Donnell, and that unit, along with holder Patrick Scales, have reportedly grown close:

"I think that Scales and Pat O’Donnell should get a lot of credit because they’ve helped raise him also just with their veteran leadership," said Special Teams coordinator Chris Tabor of Pineiro's late-season success. "The group is really tight and I’m proud of them.”

For Pineiro's part, the kicker said that while he's always working on improving his technique, his top priority while in South Florida will be putting on weight. Though he ended his season hitting his last 11 kicks, only one of those – the lone three points in a loss to Kansas City – was from farther than 40 yards. Pineiro admitted that having to consistently kick a cold ball took some getting used to, especially as he continued to work his way back from a pinched nerve in his kicking knee. Just throw a couple footballs in the freezer when you're down there, Eddy.