The “Monsters of the Midway” entered the 2017 season knowing it is in the middle of a rebuild. This isn’t a team that was looking to “tank” though. The Bears’ rebuild consist of trying to be competitive throughout the season. It’s a way of “filtering out the excess fat” from their roster.
Entering the season, the Bears faithful knew they’d be in for some nonsense. Signing Mike Glennon in free agency and moving up in the first round to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was a recipe for disaster from day one. Glennon was never going to get a fair shake, as the fans wanted to see the younger player and the media made Glennon’s spot on the team seem useless. Glennon’s play on the field didn’t help to quiet that noise either. Mike Glennon had a completion percentage of 66.4% but that was because he seemed to scared to throw it downfield and basically dumped it off to running backs and tight ends all day. Ultimately his 8 total turnovers did him in and got him benched, which of course led to the starting of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Things didn’t get much better. Trubisky’s completion percentage is under 50% and in four games he has two touchdown passes and four turnovers. Glennon and Trubisky don’t have a lot to work with in terms of coaching or talent (keep reading) but in just looking at production from the position a solid D minus even seems generous.
If it wasn’t for Jordan Howard, the Bears wouldn’t have much of an offense this season. With that being said, it’s not as if he’s putting up “elite-RB” numbers. His 83 yards a game coupled with his 4.1 yards per average is consistent work at least and you can’t knock him considering he’s being run into the ground. In the eight games he’s played, he’s already carried the ball for 162 times. Bears fans fell in love with Tarik Cohen and his 5’6″ frame in week one. Then after that, there hasn’t been much to applaud him for. He seems to try to do too much when he has the ball now and the Bears just aren’t creative enough on offense to devise schemes for him. The Bears should look passed Cohen on the depth chart and start handing the ball off to Benny Cunningham more. Cunningham is more of the traditional back, who can take some of the pounding off of Jordan Howard. Because of Howard’s toughness alone, and him alone in this backfield, you have to give it a grade of a B.
Wide Receiver/Tight End:
Nothing to see here folks. Even if Kevin White and Cameron Merdith didn’t suffer season ending injuries, it’s hard to believe it would be a much better group of wide-outs than the one that’s currently presented. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if they aren’t getting opportunities because the play calling is so bad, or if they’re just not that good. The loss of Zach Miller was not only horrific to watch but also took away the most reliable target on the team. Rookie Adam Shaheen was supposed to be one of those “sleeper picks” in the draft, and so far he has one catch which was a two-yard touchdown reception. . .yay. Hopefully the acquisition of Dontrelle Inman will help boast this group but it’s pretty pitiful. Easy grade of an F.
Glennon and Trubisky have combined for 19 sacks this season but when watching the tape, the blame isn’t all on the offensive line. This is a tough group led by Kyle Long and Josh Sitton. Cody Whitehair slips up once in a while but all in all he’s continuing to be a solid contributor. The Bears have the third most rushing yards in the league and the backs are averaging a respectable 4.3 yards a carry. If healthy this is a good offensive line who’s grade is a B.
If there is a mid-season MVP for this Bears team, I’d have to go with Akiem Hicks. Hicks leads the team with 7 sacks, demands attention and is the player on this defensive front who offensive coordinators must plan around. His All-Pro-Like play has opened up more opportunities for Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman. The Bears are allowing on 3.9 yards a rush this season and most of it is due to this defensive front that finds itself in the opposition’s back field more times than not. Grade A.
A healthy Danny Trevathan is a welcomed sight to this defense. He leads the team with 52 total tackles and definitely has added that “aggressive nature” the Bears defense has been lacking in recent history. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson came out of Alabama with a lot of talent but also a history including injuries so many were wary of him. He could prove to be the safety the Bears have been needing for years if he keeps playing at the level he’s been playing at. Even if you take away that game when he had two pick-sixes he’s still been playing like one of the steals of this year’s draft. His pairing with Adrian Amos can be the building blocks for rebuilding a secondary. Fans want Kyle Fuller to be “the guy” – but I don’t see it. Ever. Regardless, this is a physical group of players from the linebackers to the secondary who will get a grade of B plus.
First the good:
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell both get an A for their efforts this year. Donatell has really got the young guys in the secondary playing with confidence and as mentioned above they seem to be developing quickly into legit NFL talents. Fangio has been one of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators for years and it’s his defense that has kept the Bears in games, even when the offense is trying to give them away.
Now the bad:
Head coach John Fox, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains all get a D at the midpoint of the 2017 season. The offensive play calling is as predictable as a New Year’s hangover. “Run, Run, Pass, Punt,” appears to be the offensive call to arms, especially since the team made the switch to Mitchell Trubisky. Trubiksy has displayed some arm strength and the ability to throw on the run, but the Bears refuse to open the playbook for the struggling rookie. This all falls on John Fox, and seriously nobody even knows if he’s mentally checked out already or not. Rumors have been floating around since the draft that he’s a lame duck coach this season and they’ll be looking to change the culture next season. Bears fans everywhere hope so.
After calculating the grades, the Bears get an overall mid-season grade of a C. That is both a surprising and “not-so-bad” grade for a team with a 3-5 record who at the beginning of the season was looked at as an NFL “doormat.” The last 2-3 years saw a Bears team that would quit, especially defensively. The re-emergence of the Monster of the Midway can give the fan-base hope. Just imagine if this team had a decent offense what they could look like. . . They’ll be lucky to finish the season with seven wins, but if they keep playing like they are, there is definitely a core here to build on.