The minute their shortened practice ended Thursday, Bears veterans went to their lockers, then their cars and raced off to vacation. It was Indy 500 Day.
In their wake, the Bears left plenty of questions to debate before the start of training camp in late July.
Sun-Times expert Mark Potash breaks down the best and worst of the Bears’ offseason program and what to expect when the team sets up camp in Bourbonnais. (You can read Patrick Finley’s breakdown here.)
What was the Bears’ biggest accomplishment this offseason?
Getting their offense in order. Though rookie running back David Montgomery has yet to play in pads, preliminary indications are that he has been correctly evaluated as a better fit for Nagy’s offense than Jordan Howard. Montgomery’s hands and fluidity are impressive. And flipping James Daniels (center) and Cody Whitehair (left guard) to put each player at his best position seems like a seamless transition so far.
What is the team’s biggest flaw heading into training camp?
After cutting Cody Parkey in the offseason, the Bears don’t have an established NFL kicker on their roster. Elliott Fry is the lone survivor of an eight-man kicker derby from rookie minicamp. Eddy Piñeiro has yet to kick in a regular-season game. That said, Piñeiro is an intriguing prospect. He’s got the big leg, and he likely would have been the Raiders’ kicker had he not been injured in the preseason.
How will the Bears solve their kicking problem?
It’s a fascinating dilemma for a Super Bowl contender to have such a potential Achilles — with the mental baggage of the 2018 drama — heading into training camp. The Bears hope to find a young kicker who can develop into a long-term solution. But at this point, it’s 45-45 whether it will be Fry/Piñeiro or the best kicker cut in another training camp — with a 10 percent shot of a surprise trade for Gould.
What was the most memorable moment of the offseason?
It’s overstating it to say the Bears100 Celebration Weekend was a game-changer for the current team — their motivation runs deep enough after losing at home in the playoffs last year. But it still had a profound effect and instilled in many current players how much their success is a source of pride for Hall of Famers and former great players. It was a memorable convergence of the Bears’ Hall of Fame, championship past and their seemingly bright future.
Have your expectations changed for Mitch Trubisky in 2019?
I expect Trubisky to be more efficient than prolific in the second year in Nagy’s offense. But if the Bears stay relatively healthy and everything falls into place on both sides of the ball — very possible the way this team’s luck is running — there likely will be games in which Trubisky plays at an elite level.
Which newcomer is most likely to impress in training camp?
We have yet to see rookie wide receiver Riley Ridley in pads, but in a mini-camp setting, he looks as if he has gained a quick knowledge of the nuances of Nagy’s offense and has the athletic tools to be a big hit.
How did Nagy handle his second full offseason?
Nagy has this team on a string. He seems to have the right feel for when to push and when to pull back. And his players — on offense and defense — have complete confidence in him. Sundays — especially in January — will tell the tale. But Nagy is at the top of his game.