The head coach is in place.
Most of, if not all of the rest of the staff is also in place.
And perhaps most importantly, the quarterback is in place.
After a rookie year that saw Mitchell Trubisky throw 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 2,193 yards over 12 starts the question now is how to orchestrate a year two jump for Trubisky a la Carson Wentz or Jared Goff. In the case of Wentz and Goff, both got the right coach to tailor a system for each respective quarterback’s strengths.
Now credit to Ryan Pace, as all signs point to Matt Nagy being a great candidate to help Trubisky be the next breakout quarterback. Nagy is an offensive mind who just helped Alex Smith put up the best season of his career at the age of 33.
As you’ve probably heard already, Nagy was reportedly very high on Trubisky going into last year’s draft and now with the chance to actually work together it’ll be interesting to see what Nagy has in mind as far as game plan goes.
But in order to have a game plan in the first place someone has to be on the field to help Trubisky make plays. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are one of the best backfield tandems in the league, and getting Cameron Meredith back healthy will certainly improve the receiving corps.
But the Bears still need more offensive weapons to help Trubisky’s growth. The Eagles got Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith for Wentz, the Rams got Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins for Goff. Now the Bears must follow that blueprint and get Trubisky his own help.
So what are the Bear’s options this offseason?
Jarvis Landry, free agent:
Jarvis Landry has long been one of the most highly-regarded receivers in the league. With sure hands and crisp routes Landry also has big-play capabilities with the ability to create in space. Landry is reportedly unhappy with the Dolphins use of him as well as the contract offers they have given him. With Miami likely starting Ryan Tannehill at quarterback next year he 25-year-old Landry may be looking to escape the Dolphins and latch onto a big armed quarterback with one of the best up-and-coming minds in Chicago. Money would be no issue as the Bears have some of the most cap space in the league.
Calvin Ridley, Alabama:
Ridley didn’t particularly shine in the National Championship game with just 4 catches for 32 yards, but the speedy receiver is still considered the top player at his position entering the draft. Ridley has the ability to stretch the field vertically and would be the perfect addition to a Bears offense that lacked a burner last year.If the Bears were to bring in Landry then Ridley would be the perfect compliment as Landry is more of a short-to-mid weapon whereas Ridley can take the top off a defense. The Bears are going to be sitting at number eight overall in the draft, which may be a bit of a reach for Ridley but there is always the opportunity to trade down.
If the Bears feel that eighth is too much of a reach for Ridley trading down a couple spots and recouping the picks given away last year is not a bad idea. Pace could decide to shore up an offensive line that struggled with injuries last year and instead take a receiver in the second or third round. This is your reminder that guys like Juju Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill were all second round picks or later. Looking back on selections like Howard, Cohen, Edddie Jackson and Adam Shaheen, we know Pace is capable of finding those gems in the later rounds.
Ryan Pace has been pretty good at evaluating talent in his drafts, even if it takes a year or two for those guys to truly blossom. With the right coaching tree in place the Bears are close to returning to relevance. When Pace was first hired it appeared to be the start of a long and painful rebuilding process, but with another strong draft class and the right free agents I’d be comfortable predicting a 9-7 record next year, the third of Pace’s regime. This is a Bears team on the rise and we could be enjoying success in Chicago sooner rather than later.