The revamped and retooled Chicago Bears offense certainly has a fair amount of buzz surrounding it, but some of the “breakout” players just may be guys who were already on the roster. Yes, the team spent a lot of money and some prime draft assets on the offensive side of the ball and those players are largely expected to carry the load. But an entire offense can’t be built in one off-season. They’ll need some of last year’s players to step up. There certainly aren’t a lot of options to pick from, but the players and coaches the Bears added could help some of the returning talent take the next step.
Charles Leno Jr.
The hiring of Harry Hiestand created a lot of hype around a few different players, but the young left tackle may benefit more than anyone. Leno has already become a good starting tackle, steadily improving each year, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue and even be accelerated under the tutelage of one of the sport’s best OL minds.
While he was a late round pick, Leno is a very talented player and less than a year older then Cody Whitehair. The superior coaching he is going to get from here on really could make him one of the ten best left tackles in the league. If that happens, you can expect the Bears to have one of the best offensive lines in the league.
I know, I know, you’re sick of Kevin White. But what if Ryan Pace was right when he made White the seventh overall pick in 2015?
The Bears new coaching staff seems impressed with the fourth-year receiver. By all accounts, he’s looked fast and fluid in practice and still possesses a rare combination of size and athleticism.
So much has been written about how the new Bears offense is going to benefit so many players. Why can’t that be true for White? He, more than anyone, was misused by the previous coaching staff, which essentially only threw bubble screens to him or had him run deep with quarterbacks who couldn’t get the football downfield.
We have no idea if White is actually good and even less of an idea if he can stay healthy. But, by all accounts, he’s an extremely high-character person and a hard worker. If Pace was right about the talent, White just could be a solid contributor in 2018.
It’s impossible not to put Cohen on this list after hearing Matt Nagy say he’s giddy about the second-year running back and mention that he has to remember to get the ball to other players. (Above you can hear Cohen return the love.)
Cohen shouldn’t necessarily touch the ball more than he did last year, averaging roughly thirteen a game. (This does not count the number of plays that were wiped out because of penalty.) But we should see an increase in the number of explosive plays for the young back.
The most exciting player on the team in 2017, Cohen was drawing double teams and constant attention from defenses. Because of that, he averaged just 6.7 yards per catch. Not ideal. With the additions all around the offense, teams won’t be able to focus on him as much. The result should be that he gets more space to operate and Cohen in space is a very scary thought for opposing defenses.
OK, this one is a no-brainer and it’s been written about all offseason. Trubisky’s experience, the added talent around him and having a coach who loves him have made him an obvious breakout candidate. But there are other reasons to believe it will happen.
There’s no arguing that Trubisky struggled in his first four starts. But after the bye week — which also coincides with when the Bears started playing Dontrelle Inman over Tanner Gentry and whoever the hell else they had — Trubisky was pretty good. From Nov. 12 on, Trubisky completed more than 63% of his passes, finishing below 60% just twice. He had roughly 1,700 yards in eight games. That’s pretty good for a rookie and really frickin’ good for a rookie playing with Inman, now a free agent who still hasn’t been signed by anyone, as the team’s best receiver.
He needs to make more big plays. He only had seven touchdown passes on the season and five in the last eight games. That should come with experience and better players around him. His numbers over his final eight games are comparable to what Carson Wentz put up as a rookie and far better than Jared Goff’s rookie campaign.
It isn’t fair to expect Trubisky to explode like the second-year quarterbacks did in 2017, but it also isn’t unreasonable to think he will do so.