2019 Bears Are the 2018 Jaguars?... Mitch Please!
As we all know the Chicago Bears went 12-4 last season, going from worst to first in the NFC North. Throughout the 2018 off-season, the Bears were compared to the 2017 Rams for multiple reasons. In 2017 the Rams went from an old, defensive-minded coach, Jeff Fisher, to a young, up-and-coming offensive mind, Sean McVay; similar to the transition the Bears made from John Fox to Matt Nagy. In their first year, both coaches received Coach of the Year honors for their modern offense, transparency with the media, and their successful rookie seasons. Although these coaches have had similar success, they implemented entirely different offenses.
Both coaches run a form of west coast offense, but at this point, most offenses implement the basic concepts of a west coast offense. Bill Walsh, the father of the west coast offense, introduced an offense in the 60's that had an emphasis on short breaking routes, swing routes, and three to five step drop backs getting the ball into space quickly. The concepts from the west coast offense have evolved, and have been constructed in multiple forms. Sean McVay's offense is most effective when featuring a single back running stretch and zone plays, setting up play action passes. McVay combines that with the quick drop, short and intermediate routes to set up more explosive shots down field. This past season, you watched Nagy using the philosophy of the west coast offense to set up chunk yardage plays, but it was done in a very different way; there was more balance between the snaps under center versus out of the shotgun. Mitchell Trubisky's athleticism, and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich (formerly of Oregon), allowed the bears to utilize more run-pass options and college concepts. After the 2018 season ended, the Rams comparisons continued to surface, and the question was: will Mitchell Trubisky have the same growth in his second year in the offense be similar? Bears fan's would like to think so.
Media also posed the question of whether the 2019 Bears will have a similar drop off as the 2018 Jaguars. Before the Bears took the title as best defense in 2018, the Jaguars held it in 2017. The Jaguar's offense is a run-first offense that became one dimensional after Leonard Fournette had an injury plagued season. Matt Nagy's offense is predicated on spreading the ball out and has stated on numerous occasions that it's "never going to be one guy." From Santa's Sleigh to Willy Wonka, Nagy is always cooking up different plays to put different guys in the end zone. Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Fournette, two leaders of the Jaguars, regularly bash their own teams. Cody Parkey went on the today show once and the Bears promptly designated him with the June 1st cut when the new league year began. Blake Bortle's signed to a 3 year $54 million contract to start 2018 and was not able make up for lost production in the running game through the air. The Bears struggled with running the Ball all year unless Trubisky decided to run it himself, and was able to throw more effectively as the season progressed. Is Mitchell Trubisky a better quarterback then Blake Bortles? Bears fans would like to think so.
Although the Bears have more similarities to the 2017 Rams than the 2017 Jaguars, they still won't reflect either team. The Rams had their weaknesses exposed when they played the Bears in 2018. Fangio's defense keyed in on Gurley, forcing them to pass, and letting our rush wreck havoc on Jared Goff. The Patriot's took that game plan and implemented it in the Super Bowl. McVay did not adjust his offensive game plan at all in the super bowl, and the Ram's lost. Would Matt Nagy add new wrinkles to his offense in the Super Bowl to make it difficult for his opponent to stop him? Bears fans would like to think so.
The Rams signed Ndamukong Suh, and also traded for Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, having a much more eventful off-season in 2018. The Ram's spent $29.73 million between trades and free agent signings, trying to buy a defense through free agency. Between Blake Bortles and offensive guard Andrew Norwell, the Jaguars spent $31.3 million. In total, they spent $58.74 million spending money on everything but a capable quarterback. This off-season, the Chicago Bears have spent $20.55 million, and have some room to spend. They have only spent $9.03 million on starters, if you include a nickel in your starting package, and have mainly spent their money on depth and role players, unlike the 2017 Rams and Jaguars. The Bears off-season signings reflect that they believe in the growing talent they have already acquired. Has Ryan Pace proven he can assemble a talented roster? Bears fans better believe so!
The 2019 Bears will carve their own path. Navigating though a first place schedule will pose a challenge to the Bears, but they have the culture, the offensive system, and the coach to sustain success. Fans should feel confident the Chicago Bears will rise to the occasion.