Chicago Bears training camp primer for 2019

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

As the 2019 NFL season gets underway, we dissect the Chicago Bears, who are hoping to repeat as NFC North champions and go even further.

The Year of our Lord Two-Thousand and Nineteen is nearly halfway gone, but the journey is far from over. NFL training camps across the country have already commenced, with all teams scheduled to be helmet-crashing, dummy pad smashing, gold chain flashing, football passing all over these here 50 United States of America The Beautiful.

Each year, teams are filled with hope that the work they put into the draft, free agency and preparing for training camp will pay off with a trip to the Super Bowl. Unless of course, you’re the Detroit Lions.

Anyway, the Chicago Bears are coming off a year in which nobody had predicted. Like thieves in the night, the Bears went from the NFC North doormat to unseating the Green Bay Packers and winning the 2018 Division Championship. Their Cinderella story didn’t stop there. The Bears hosted the Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off a 2017 Super Bowl victory, at home in Soldier Field and defeat- *sigh* if only.

The Bears, fresh off a division title and playoff berth in 2018, are looking to take the next step to truly cementing themselves as one of the league’s premier contenders. Do they have the tools? Did they do enough this offseason? Did they lose too many key pieces? Only time will tell. Here’s your 2019 Chicago Bears training camp primer.

What to Expect

In year two of the Matt Nagy era? not much. Coach Nagy likes to keep things close to the vest and surprise you on gameday with 330-lb offensive lineman catching touchdowns that he’s labeled “Santa’s Sleigh” Cool, right?

Mitchell Trubisky has now had a full regular season and offseason under Nagy’s scheme, as well as his offensive teammates. There are lofty expectations for a group that ranked 9th offensively and returns 10 starters.

How will the running game look? Jordan Howard looked like a slug in Nagy’s up-tempo offense, so the Bears shipped him to Philadelphia and replaced him with former Seahawk RB Mike Davis, Iowa State’s David Montgomery, and Florida International’s Kerrith Whyte, Jr.

Expect Tarik Cohen to get more of a balanced diet in 2019, with Davis and Montgomery expected to carry most of the groundwork.

Defensively, the big questions are how the loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (Broncos – Head Coach) will impact the league’s number one defense from a year ago. Will they regress? Possibly. Insert Chuck Pagano to a defense that returns nine starters, and replaced Adrian Amos (Packers) and Bryce Callahan (Broncos) with HaHa Clinton-Dix and Buster Skrine, and you have a unit that is expected to pick up right where they left off in 2018.

It’s no secret that Fangio’s presence in Chicago was fearsome, leading a unit that ranked first in points allowed, third in sacks, first in turnovers, seventh in passing, and first in rushing. While it may not be replicable for Pagano in 2019, Fangio left all his tools behind for Pagano to create his own monster with. If there’s anything you should believe in with this Bears team, it’s Monsters.

Special Teams. What to expect? Just make the kick, please. MOVING. ON.

Both Elliot Fry and Eddie Pineiro are expected to compete for the team’s starting kicker position, with neither bringing much of a track record at their previous stops to the table.

Fry was a perfect 14-for-14 with the AAF Champion Orlando Apollos, with a long of 44-yards.

During his time as a South Carolina Gamecock, Fry kicked 75%, going 66-of-88 and finished 161-of-162 on XP, good for 99.4%.

Pineiro, the former Florida Gator has spent some time on NFL rosters prior to his arrival in Chicago, having played for the Oakland Raiders in 2018 prior to his early spring trade to the Bears.

During his final year at Florida, Pinerio had the best field goal percentage in all of college football, kicking  94.4% (17-for-18). Pineiro finished his career as a Gator with an 88.4% (38-for-43) field goal conversion rate, which lands him first in UF history passing Bobby Raymond (87.8%, 43-of-49, 1983-84.)

Pineiro’s 38 made field goals rank him sixth all-time in school history. He also connected on 16 straight field goals in 2017, which tied Jeff Chandler (2001) for the second-longest streak in school history.

As far as position battles go, the wide receivers is where there could be the most drama.

It’s likely the core of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Riley Ridley are safe. However, Javon Wims and Emmanuel Hall could force the team’s hand at another position depending on how they perform in preseason. It’s unlikely the Bears could chance to place either Wims or Hall through waivers to have them on the practice squad without another team claiming them.

If the Bears were to keep a group of Robinson-Gabriel-Miller-Patterson-Ridley-Wims/Hall (6) it would be likely that you’d see a sacrifice at either cornerback or tight end, where there’s legitimately five players at each position worth consideration of a spot on the 53-man roster.

What to watch for with Chicago during training camp is the growth from Year One to Year Two in Matt Nagy’s offense. The questions surrounding Trubisky’s ability to improve off of his 2018 campaign are without limit from online pundits, but Trubisky has gone on record as saying that this year he doesn’t have to think as much and can just focus on football.

It’s also going to be of ultimate importance that this team stays healthy, considering the defense is undergoing maintenance while they learn Pagano’s terminology and system. While there’s plenty of depth at key positions on defense, losing any player this early could be damning for momentum in what will certainly be a tough road in 2019.

What it boils down to for Chicago this summer is momentum, consistency, and getting quality reps out of the weaker positions. The kicking game will be the headline nearly every day, and you’d sadly prefer that over a major injury or team dysfunction.

Next. 2019 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams. dark

All in all these next few weeks should tell a lot about just how far along the Bears are on their quest for a Super Bowl Championship.