Mark Potash: Analyzing the best and worst of Bears camp in Bourbonnais
Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith look like the real deal, but Mitch Trubisky is an X-factor after an uneven training camp against arguably the best defense in the NFL.
The Bears packed up their moving trucks after Sunday’s practice, the 12th of training camp, and moved home to a renovated Halas Hall. After playing in front of record crowds at Olivet Nazarene University, the Bears will practice in peace as they navigate their final three preseason games and prepare their 53-man roster.
Sun-Times Bears beat writer Mark Potash breaks down the best and worst of the team’s stint in Bourbonnais:
The most impressive thing I saw in Bourbonnais was:
At 28, in the prime of his prime, Khalil Mack seems like he’s in that rare stratosphere where he creates energy for his teammates and feeds off it himself. He effortlessly dominated at times, and while it’s only training camp, Mack already has proven he’s even better when the bell rings.
How much stock do you put in Mitch Trubisky’s camp struggles?
More in the final week of camp than in the first. It wasn’t a surprise that Trubisky and the offense struggled in the early going against a veteran defense that hit the ground running. But the offense never really responded with a big day. Trubisky’s inaccuracy, especially on deep balls left room for doubt.
Should the Bears trade for a kicker before cut day?
Certainly not three weeks before cut day. After the Panthers’ Joey Slye (55, 42, 29) and the Ravens’ Kaare Vedvik (55, 45, 26, 29) combined to go 7-for-7 in preseason openers, it’s tempting to be aggressive and get the hot guy as the Vikings did. But it’s still early in the preseason and too early to trade for an unproven kicker. The Bears have to let this thing play out.
Is Matt Nagy right to dismiss preseason games?
It’s the growing trend in the NFL and Nagy seems to be ahead of it. With most teams doing the same thing, the Bears are less likely to be at a disadvantage. Emphasizing health and avoiding injuries seems to be working for Nagy. And this defense gives him a bigger margin for error in almost anything he does.
Believe the hype on this player:
Linebacker Roquan Smith looks bigger, faster and much improved in pass coverage — giving every indication that he will take the biggest leap among young defenders, maybe any second-year player in the league.
The question the Bears still must answer is:
Can they keep Trey Burton healthy? He’s already being treated with kid gloves, coming off sports hernia surgery. And even when he returns, he still has to prove he can stay healthy. His absence in the wild-card game arguably was the difference — as Travis Kelce’s absence appeared to be for the Chiefs in the playoffs in 2018. A productive tight end seems inordinately key to Matt Nagy’s offense.
Did camp change your opinion about the Bears’ future?
The Bears still are a playoff contender with legitimate Super Bowl hopes. But with an offense that looked shaky in camp they also are a candidate to disappoint. It comes down to one key question: Did the defense make the offense look bad in camp — or did the offense make the defense look good?