Training Camp Player(s) to Watch: Defense

| July 16th, 2021

This whole “Player to Watch” concept is a bit tired, isn’t it? What exactly is there to watch in camp when it comes to Robert Quinn? Or Danny Trevathan? There’s no production to monitor. Nothing the team shows to fans and media means anything. So what are we watching?

But there are things of note, and those things usually involve who is getting reps where. (Hence, yesterday’s focus on which player will be returning kickoffs in a few weeks.) This summer, when it comes to the Bears defense, there is one thing to watch: health.


Khalil Mack has been wrestling with back (and other) injuries for two seasons.

Akiem Hicks is constantly in and out of the lineup.

Robert Quinn never got his season started in 2020 due to a series of knocks.

Jaylon Johnson is being asked to assume the top corner role but, while he is immensely talented, he is also chronically-injured.

Eddie Goldman just took a year off from playing football. That’s not easy and his body’s response will be something to monitor.

Danny Trevathan is aging (aren’t we all?) and slowing.


This is an older group, with it unlikely Mack, Hicks, Quinn and Trevathan will be on the roster in 2022. But if the Bears want to be a playoff team this season – no matter who is playing quarterback – they need almost all of the aforementioned players to stay on the field (with the plausible exception of Trevathan).

  • Without Mack, the pass rush is non-existent.
  • Without Hicks, Bilal Nichols will be asked to take the leap from solid role player to top-tier interior lineman. (While a good player, he has not made that leap yet.)
  • Without Quinn, it’s unlikely the pass rush will be able to compensate deficiencies on the backend.
  • Without Johnson, any team with two capable wide receivers will tear this defense apart.
  • Without Goldman (again), the run defense won’t hold up over a long season.

Is it important which corner settles into the slot role? Sure. But if Kindle Vildor wins the job this summer that doesn’t mean he’ll still have the job come October. What’s important to watch this summer is the health of the aging stars. Because that will have the greatest impact on 2021 success.

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Bears Need to Answer “Yes” to These 3 Questions

| September 11th, 2019

The Chicago Bears have played one game in 2019, and it was soul-crushing.It was also just one game.

Of course they can still be the team we hoped they would be this year, but there are three vital questions they need to answer. If it’s “yes” to all three, I don’t see why Chicago isn’t in the playoffs come January. If the answers are “no”, we could be in for a long season.

Can they stay healthy?

This is both completely obvious, and something the Bears have little control over, but it’s still one of the most crucial pieces to having success this season.

After Thursday it’s clear there’s no regression on the defensive front, and the only way they don’t continue to be one of the most formidable units in the NFL is if key players suffer significant injuries.

Similarly, even though the offense was an absolute embarrassment against Green Bay, we know there’s still plenty of talent on that side of the ball as well. Keep them healthy, and we’re sure to see it. With one game in the books and 15 to go, all we can do is hope the team stays as healthy as possible the rest of the way.

Can they find reliability and consistency at the kicker position?

The Bears’ search for a kicker defined their preseason, and after exhaustive tryouts they decided Eddy Pineiro was their best option.

Pineiro had an inconsistent training camp, a decent preseason, and against Green Bay went 1/1 with a 38 yard field goal before proceeding to send the kickoff out of bounds on the very next play. So far he’s been the very definition of mixed bag.

Pineiro seems like a good kid with a strong leg, and maybe, just maybe has the potential to be an upgrade from last season. That said, do I feel confident that he can march out there and reliably hit 40+ yard field goals in high pressure situations? Not yet, at least. There’s just not a big enough sample size. Fortunately for Pineiro, he has a whole season to prove himself. For both his and the team’s sake, he better.

Can Trubisky be good enough?

It’s been six days now, so there’s no need to belabor the point. Trubisky played like garbage in Week 1. Yes, Nagy called an awful game. Yes, the offensive line was atrocious. But he was still very bad. It was a frustrating, bewildering performance, and he deserves all the criticism leveled at him, but one game doesn’t give us the final answer here.

Because the question isn’t can Trubisky be great, or will he be better than Mahomes or Watson. Those are separate discussions. With the caliber of defense Chicago has they don’t need an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. They proved that last year by going 12-4. What they need is a good QB who is comfortable in Matt Nagy’s offense.

There were multiple times last season where Trubisky looked to be exactly that, including his performance against Green Bay in Week 15 where he threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and helped the Bears clinch the division. That game counts in his evaluation just as much as Thursday night does.

We’re slowly getting to the point where we can start to say with some certainty what Trubisky’s baseline performance level is, but we’re not quite there yet. In a month to six weeks, if Trubisky is regularly playing more like the guy who showed up on Thursday than the guy in December of last year the Bears have a serious problem, but it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.

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