The 2016 NFL season kicked off as the Broncos defended their Super Bowl 50 crown against the Panthers. Trevor Siemian, who last year was lining up a real estate gig in Chicago before he was the last quarterback drafted, became the first Northwestern QB to start an NFL game since 1979.
It feels like an eternity since the 2010 NFC Championship game against the Packers where skeptics didn’t believe Jay Cutler was actually injured. The Bears haven’t been in the playoffs since and fans, the team, and most importantly Virginia McCaskey can’t stand it anymore.
Luckily for us, the right pieces are in place and competency is once again a trait of the Chicago Bears. Let’s weave tunes and storylines together and see if the Bears will finally return to playing meaningful games in January.
The Kevin White Effect
The White Stripes – Catch Hell Blues
The key to being successful this season lies directly on the offense’s shoulders. While Vic Fangio improved the defense immensely, the offense stayed the same ranking (23rd) in points per game as 2014’s season under the most genius offensive guru ever born, Marc Trestman.
While a season ending injury to 7th overall pick WR Kevin White flat out sucked last year, he’s back. However, of course yesterday he was placed on week one’s injury report as questionable. Taking the burden off of Alshon Jeffrey is one of the most crucial cornerstones of having an effective offense. If Kevin has a campaign of let’s say 55 catches, 850 yds, and 7 TD’s it will open up everything.
No Forte, No Problem?
The Velvet Underground – Run Run Run
As you probably heard, the Bears let Matt Forte walk this offseason and he signed a three year deal with the New York Jets. I totally understand why the team didn’t want to invest money in a 30 year old running back; but leaning on 2nd year back Jeremy Langford is pretty nuts. I’m not saying he doesn’t have talent, it’s just a huge gamble. Depth on both sides of the ball is pretty slim, but relying on three unproven young backs is simply frightening.
John Fox – Sophomore Season Success
Peter, Bjorn & John – Second Chance
John Fox has a well documented history of improving his teams dramatically in his second season. The number is staggering, he has averaged a 4.5 win improvement in his second year at the helm. There’s no way he alone improves this team by 4 games this year, but here’s a quick comparison; would the 2015 Cubs win 97 games if Rick Renteria was still the manager? No they wouldn’t. It’s about having the right guy for the right group of players. I’m excited to see if his history continues this year.
New Kids on the Block – A Rebuilt Defense
AC/DC – Hells Bells
Led by new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears dramatically improved on defense last year. The Trestman regime in 2014 was good for 30th best; in just one season Vic came in and launched the Bears to 14th best. Adding in linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman via free agency is an immediate upgrade.
The Bears traded up to snag outside linebacker Leonard Floyd with the 9th pick but according to Vic has struggled so far in practice. If he gets it together around week 7 when Pernell McPhee returns, the Bears could go from having one of the worst linebacking corps last year to one of the best.
Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
Much like waiting years for the Cubs rebuild to come to fruition, I honestly think the Bears are still one year away from a playoff run and will finish 8-8 this season. The offense is the much larger question mark for this team and having their 6th offensive coordinator in 8 years doesn’t help. With Teddy Bridgewater’s injury as the Viking’s QB, the division opened up a bit. If Langford, White, and the O-Line step up, the Bears can make the playoffs. That’s a boatload of what if’s though, and for that reason it’s unlikely this team will be marching through the postseason.