The Bears begin their final week of preseason practices Monday, making it their last chance to clear up roles and finalize the overall manner in which they’ll attack this season.
After that, they’ll cut the roster from 80 to 53 (plus a 16-man practice squad, so most of the current group will likely remain intact) and launch preparation for the season opener against the Lions.
Everything’s on the table for the Bears at this point. If their offense is good, they have a chance to compete for a title. If it isn’t, they’ll be fortunate to finish .500 again. They have plenty of questions to answer on that side of the ball.
With two weeks until the opener in Detroit, Sun-Times beat writer Jason Lieser checks in on some crucial points:
The Bears quarterback situation is …
Disappointing. This is all the better it gets, Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles? The most exasperating part is that the Bears are championship-ready on the other side of the ball, but their mismanagement at the most important position will undermine that. And if Foles isn’t decisively better than Trubisky, the Bears would’ve been better off keeping their draft pick and saving some money to use elsewhere.
Who will start at running back?
The Bears will be fine at running back without making a major addition. If David Montgomery misses the first two games, they can count on Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson. But it will require both, and often on the field at the same time, to avoid the run-game predictability that hurt the Bears last season.
Matt Nagy’s biggest challenge is …
Adapting. This is not a perfect offense. There are questions all over the depth chart. And what Nagy did the last two seasons hasn’t worked. He has to be willing to adjust his philosophy, especially in the running game, find a way to work with this personnel.
What problem have the Bears solved in training camp?
They seem to have nailed down what they want to do in the secondary. Second-round pick Jaylon Johnson probably needs more time, so they’ll work around that by using slot corner Buster Skrine outside whenever possible.
What problem looms?
Their pass rush hasn’t played together. New outside linebacker Robert Quinn spent the first two weeks of practice on the sideline because he still needed to ramp up, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has been out with a minor injury. If those two miss time, it’s back to the same problem as last season: Khalil Mack on his own is not enough.
Who has impressed you the most?
Eddie Jackson. He continues to be the all-pro talent the Bears believe him to be and there’s no doubt he’ll play up to the $58.4 million contract extension they gave him in January. He has been all over the place in camp and will be all season.
This rookie stands out …
Tight end Cole Kmet is the obvious choice. It’s still going to be a more gradual development for his position compared to most others, but he looks ready to contribute. He has been a productive pass catcher and capable blocker. He’ll factor into the game plan immediately.