The 2017 NFL offseason is in full swing, as OTAs begin soon. Expectations for the Chicago Bears have been low – the Bears are even being called the new Browns by some. I’m not prepared to go that far, so here are my five bold predictions for the Bears in 2017.
The defense finishes top 5
I know, I know, the Bears are terrible, right? Are they really that bad, is the question?
I would argue that they are far from the team being thrashed in the national media recently. The Bears are still not a good team, but I believe they will be a lot of teams’ trap game this year. Too many close games were lost due to either last-minute lapses in the defense or the offense not being able to finish with points. The defense was about 15th in the league in 2016, and that was with Pernell McPhee starting the season on PUP, Lamarr Houston on injured reserve and Leonard Floyd in and out with injuries. They have made large upgrades to the secondary with veterans Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quentin Demps, and rookie Eddie Jackson. These additions could help turn Chicago’s defense around. Plus, having players like Eddie Goldman, Houston, Kyle Fuller and McPhee healthy will help, as well. Add those to the further development of players like Floyd, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan, along with the solid hand of defensive mastermind Vic Fangio guiding the way, don’t be surprised to see the return of the Monsters of the Midway in 2017.
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Mike Glennon passes for 4000 yards
Jay Cutler not once passed this threshold as the Bears’ quarterback, so why do I think Mike Glennon will?
He decided to bet on himself this offseason and, with Mitch Trubisky waiting in the wings as the future, Glennon has all the motivation in the world to perform. An offensive line with three potential Pro Bowlers and a premier running game will do loads to help as well. The protection that affords him will keep him starter all year, and set the Bears up with their dream scenario of two capable quarterbacks on the roster. It also won’t hurt to have a stud receiver out there.
Kevin White eclipses both 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns
Is Kevin White not the stud you expected?
It has been two long years since the Bears drafted White seventh overall and both of those years ended quite prematurely due to injury. White came out of West Virginia with supreme athleticism, a 6’3”, 220-pound frame and a 4.3 40-yard dash time. However, he had no proven knowledge on how to be a receiver at the pro level. He has had two years to learn that part of his game and develop his route tree, but all that time without the weekly grind of the NFL. Most have forgotten about his potential due to his injuries, and I believe he will remind us all this year.
Once again, the rookies shine
Ryan Pace does it again!
The draft class and a few undrafted free agents will become key contributors this year. I believe that Eddie Jackson will win the starting free safety and punt returner positions and excels at both. Adam Shaheen may not start right away, but he will become an immediate red-zone threat behind Zach Miller and Dion Sims. He will end up with more touchdown receptions than both. Tarik Cohen will give Jordan Howard the compliment and rest he sorely needed last year and adds another dimension to the offense. Finally, I think UDFA Freddie Stevenson locks down the fullback spot and silently leads the way for plenty of Howard’s yards and touchdowns. Wide receiver Tanner Gentry will carve himself a niche on possession downs, and will steal some reps and a spot on the 53 away from Josh Bellamy or Deonte Thompson.
The Bears finish 7-9
All the other predictions lead to this grand finale.
The Bears win a few of those close games this year. They may not be a contender yet, but they are more than capable of shocking the NFL next year. Mitch Trubisky will see minimal time, playing clean up late in games and Ryan Pace’s grand scheme finally shows dividends in the W column. John Fox may just keep his job if they can pull this off, and that continuity could be a boost for the franchise.
Crazy? Maybe. Impossible? Not so much. One thing is for sure, the 2017 Bears are a mystery. They have been dubbed a failure by everybody before a snap has been played. But mark my words, ladies and gentlemen; we will be shocked this year, and it will be in a fantastic way.