2019 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 4,749 (29th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 28 (26th)
Offensive Plays: 1,020 (14th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 625 (11th)
Rush Attempts: 395 (20th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 88 (19th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 20 (24th)
There was nowhere for Matt Nagy to hide in 2019. The Bears’ defense regressed surprisingly little, but the Mitchell Trubisky “led” offense ground to a halt. The Bears plunged from ninth to 29th in points, and 21st to 29th in yards. Trubisky did not just fail to improve, he threw the car in reverse. His yards per attempt cratered from 7.4 to 6.1 while he accounted for only 19 total scores in 15 games. Nagy found no respite on the ground. The Bears had hoped third-rounder David Montgomery’s athletic whole would be greater than the sum of its parts, a la ex-Nagy back Kareem Hunt. Instead, Montgomery was as underwhelming as his pre-draft metrics suggested, wheezing to 3.7 yards per carry and 7.4 yards per catch. Nagy flailed wildly to make something happen, employing conventional offensive sets — 63 percent of the time in “11” personnel, 11 percent in “12” — but resorting to desperate measures to generate offense. Scat back Tarik Cohen and gadget player Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 171 touches, 79 of which were Cohen catches. He averaged 5.77 yards per grab, the second lowest YPC of the entire decade amongst players with at least 50 receptions.
QB: Nick Foles, Mitchell Trubisky
WR: Allen Robinson, Riley Ridley
WR: Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson
WR: Ted Ginn, Javon Wims
TE: Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris, (Literally like 70 more)
Nagy’s lot has not improved for 2020. Deep threat Taylor Gabriel was swapped out for Ted Ginn in free agency, while the picks-poor club used a second-rounder on TE Cole Kmet. The seam, for whatever reason, was a point of emphasis, with broken down veteran Jimmy Graham somehow securing a two-year, $16 million contract.
If the supporting cast has barely changed, the trigger man has. Hapless Trubisky has been switched out for Nick Foles, though the Bears will make them go through the indignity of a rigged camp competition first. Like seemingly half the coaches in the league, Nagy has a history with Foles, serving as his 2016 offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. At best, Foles has proven to be a league-average talent, but that is a level Trubisky never reached. Beyond streaming, Foles has no shot at carving out his own fantasy value. His presence will be beneficial for Allen Robinson and company. Never afraid to take shots down the field — Foles’ 14.7 “deep passing percentage” was eighth amongst QBs to attempt at least 100 passes last season (via PFF) — Foles will provide Robinson more opportunities to make big plays. Embarrassingly, Foles will be the best quarterback A-Rob has ever played with. Coming off a WR19 finish by average points in standard and WR9 in PPR, Robinson’s ADP of WR10-15 is on the mark. Amazingly, Robinson is still two months shy of his 27th birthday.
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The No. 2 target behind Robinson is slot man Anthony Miller, who is recovering from his second shoulder surgery in as many offseasons. After flukily scoring seven touchdowns on 33 rookie receptions in 2018, Miller predictably came back down to earth in 2019. His 52/656/2 slash wasn’t awful for a slot wideout, but expectations were higher after Miller’s promising debut. Miller was more productive in the second half of the season, notching 36 of his 52 receptions. Miller caught at least six passes in 4-of-5 games from Weeks 11-15. Miller actually averaged more yards per catch and yards after the catch than Robinson. He was facing easier competition, of course. A precise route runner who does work after the grab, Miller should benefit from increased health and higher-quality targets. With his early summer ADP hovering in the WR50-60 range, Miller has the looks of a fantasy bargain.
Replacing Gabriel as the deep burner No. 3 receiver will be Ginn. Although still a blur at age 35, Ginn had little upside and no floor with Drew Brees last season. Foles is no Drew Brees. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that third-year seventh-rounder Javon Wims passes Ginn up for No. 3 duties. Neither will have fantasy relevance. Gadget man Patterson will be good for 1-2 spiked weeks. They will be impossible to see coming.
Either Graham or Kmet could end up the No. 4 passing game option behind Robinson, Miller and Cohen, but it’s a difficult situation to prognosticate. Graham appeared truly done for the Packers last season, displaying zero chemistry with Aaron Rodgers as he posted his lowest yardage total (447) since his rookie year. This, in an offense that had targets for the taking. Graham averaged a harrowing 1.11 yards per route run, “good” for 31st amongst tight ends. He still offers a huge pair of mitts in the red zone, but it is frankly baffling that the Bears made him a priority signing. Graham is a TE2 statue you will only want to play in the most favorable of situations.
Kmet was a late bloomer at Notre Dame, posting 43/516/6 line as a true junior before the Bears pounced at No. 43 overall. Standing in at 6-foot-5, Kmet boasts a monster catch radius, though he still has a ways to go in his development as a pass catcher. As an athlete, Kmet comps to Kyle Rudolph. It is hard to see him making a re-draft impact in 2020. No. 3 TE Demetrius Harris has sometimes been viewed as an upside fantasy prospect, but he is now 29 years old with 72 career receptions, having never reached 20 in a season.
The Bears are doubling down on Montgomery after his disappointing rookie campaign. Montgomery’s questionable athletic traits showed up in both his counting stats (3.7 yards per carry) and more advanced metrics. Pro Football Focus gave him poor marks in “breakaway percentage,” which measures big runs, and “elusiveness rating,” which grades production independent of blocking. Montgomery managed only two 100-yard rushing performances despite almost no competition on early downs. “No competition” remains the theme, as the Bears added no one in the draft or free agency. Someone named “Ryan Nall” is the No. 3 back behind Montgomery and Cohen. Even with Montgomery’s pre-draft concerns now all the more glaring, roles like his don’t grow on trees. He is a safe, if low-end, RB2 investment based on his locked-in role and workload.
Cohen would seem to have nowhere to go but up after last year’s historically inefficient affair. Cohen knows he has to be better, saying he spent his offseason getting more serious about training and conditioning. ‘‘I’ve been doing yoga now, stretching more often and just like the small training room — in-house things you do to keep your body durable,’’ Cohen said in June. Although Foles is only a minor improvement on Trubisky, even that will relieve some of the pressure Cohen faced on dumpoffs that were too predictable in 2019. His targets will remain plentiful in an offense that has nowhere better to funnel them. Cohen remains PPR FLEX viable.
The Bears’ over/under is all over the map, with some services as low as 7.5 and others as high as 8.5. So we’ll set it at eight. That would match Chicago’s somewhat miraculous 2019 win total after their point differential rock bottomed from +138 in 2018 to -18, a head-spinning 156-point swing. Warren Sharp charts the Bears as having the league’s sixth-easiest schedule, though eight of their final 10 games come against teams that won at least nine games in 2019. Lacking playmakers on offense, the Bears will be in a world of trouble if their defense does not remain amongst the league’s best. In a tough division with a brutal stretch run, the under feels like the play here.