Patrick Finley: Answering Bears’ biggest questions before Week 1

SHARE Patrick Finley: Answering Bears’ biggest questions before Week 1

Jay Cutler is not one of the Bears’ most pressing issues this season. (AP)

One week before the Bears’ season-opener, the Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley makes his predictions for 2016:

Jay Cutler will …

Be the least of their concerns. It’s protecting Cutler — both with linemen, blocking tight ends and running backs pickIng up blitzers — that concerns me more than the play of the 11th year quarterback.

Kevin White will …

Be promising —and still disappoint fans. In the last 18 months, the Bears have traded Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett and let Matt Forte walk without so much as a contract offer. Alshon Jeffery and the team failed to come to a long-term deal. Fans turned their hopes to White — and are expecting too much, too soon.

Leonard Floyd will …

Be put in a position to succeed. Even with Pernell McPhee’s knee injury, the Bears will insert Floyd only in situations where he can showcase the pass-rush ability. It would be disappointing if he were ineffective.

Main reason to believe in the Bears …

Their schedule. Their first three games will likely be against quarterbacks Brock Osweiler (Texans), Carson Wentz (Eagles) and Dak Prescott (Cowboys). Parlay a decent start with a last-place schedule, and the Bears could be playing relevant football games around Thanksgiving.

Main reason to doubt the Bears …

A lack of depth. They’re a sprained ankle away from disaster at offensive line and tight end. They’re living that scenario out at cornerback already, where they finished the preseason with three starters — Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and slot corner Bryce Callahan — injured. This is Year 2 of a three-year plan, and the roster depth shows it.

The Bears will regret …

Not insisting Fuller undergo arthroscopic knee surgery earlier than mid-August, which would have cleared the way for him to finish the preseason healthy. Fuller’s season will define him one way or the other; why start behind the 8-ball?

Be excited about …

Jordan Howard. Jeremy Langford is the guy — for now — but I’d buy stock in the rookie running back. His quick feet and physical style could make him the Bears’ best runner by the end of the year.

Season prediction:

FINLEY: 7-9. We’re talking about the soft bigotry of low expectations here, but McPhee’s lost preseason and Hroniss Grasu’s lost season make me more pessimistic than I was in July.

You can read Adam L. Jahns’ predictions here and Mark Potash’s here.

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