The Chicago Bears are going into the 2023-24 NFL season with a much improved group of offensive weapons from the ones they started the 2022-23 NFL season with.
It’s possibly the best in the division, and it’s definitely the best group the Bears have had since they won the division in 2018.
With that said, how does the group compare to some of the best Bears team of the century?
Let’s take a look.
RB: Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman/Roschon Johnson
WR: DJ Moore, Chase Claypool, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott/Equanimeous St. Brown
TE: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan
The Bears have a unit that should be comfortably in the top half of the league, and there is a chance, combined with Justin Fields’ prowess throwing and running, that they can be a top 10 offense. As for the weapons themselves, by adding DJ Moore as the WR1, it puts Mooney and Claypool in the proper spots as WR2 and WR3. Scott and Brown will compete to be the main change of pace WR.
At RB, Herbert has shown himself to be a great runner, averaging 5.7 YPC last season. However, his deficiencies as a pass blocker and receiver will allow Johnson and Foreman to get opportunities, though I have a feeling the backfield will be strictly Herbert/Johnson after the first month of the season.
At TE, Cole Kmet has started to emerge as a solid TE, and Tonyan is a good option as TE2 considering his form pre-injury. I would say the group of weapons has the potential to be the best of this century, but I wouldn’t pick them over another.
RB: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen
WR: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Josh Bellamy
TE: Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen
The Bears had a solid offense this season, with Matt Nagy year 1. Of course the story of that time was the amazing number 1 ranked defense (as often is the case) but the offense did enough more often than not. Obviously that ended up not working out in the playoffs, but this offense still was decent, especially when you consider it’s the Chicago Bears. Mitchell Trubisky got a much improved group following the terrible group he had the season before, similar to Fields going year 2 to 3. Robinson didn’t have the most gaudy statline like he did in 2019 and 2020, but he was great for the Bears, especially in the playoff game.
The Bears spread it out a lot so nobody had crazy numbers. Cohen really shined as Nagy used him everywhere on the field. Howard wasn’t as good as 2016 or 2017 but was still a 1k rusher. Gabriel and Miller were good complements in the slot, and Burton had a career year, and his injury was a big reason the offense struggled to score in the wild card game. This group was good but not great.
RB: Matt Forte, Michael Bush
WR: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Marquess Wilson
TE: Martellus Bennett, Tony Fiammetta (FB)
This to me, is the best offensive arsenal the Bears have had this century, and maybe ever. Marc Trestman led the Bears to the second highest scoring offense in the league, only behind the record-setting Broncos led by Peyton Manning. Jay Cutler and Josh McCown both were great with this supporting cast. Matt Forte was already a great runner, but he emerged as a fantastic receiver in Trestman’s offense too. In 2014, he would break the record for receptions by a RB in a season. Bush was fine as a backup, but he was a lot better in 2012.
Marshall is the best Bears WR of all time, his 2012 season was incredible. His numbers weren’t as good in 2013, but that’s because he was no longer force-fed. He was still elite. Jeffery really emerged as a top receiver, eclipsing 1000 yards and giving the Bears the best WR duo in the league. Bennett and Wilson were solid as WR 3/4. And Bennett became a top 10 TE in the league when he signed in Chicago, and he was a pro bowler soon after.
The Bears had the second best offense in the league in 2013, but it was the best in their history.
RB: Matt Forte, Chester Taylor
WR: Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu
TE: Greg Olsen, Brandon Manumaleuna
The Bears made the NFC Championship Game, and might have won with a healthy Jay Cutler. Regardless, the offensive weaponry was serviceable, good enough to win with that amazing defense but not great. Forte was good but not at his peak. Taylor was a very good short-yardage back. Knox nearly had 1000 yards and seemed to be a rising star; his injury the next season was very devastating. Bennett had his most efficient season and was a reliable second WR in a run-heavy offense. Hester had some big plays even though he never really became a great receiver.
To this day, the Bears regret trading away Olsen, who had great chemistry with Cutler, and had nearly 5000 yards receiving over his 5 best seasons in Carolina.
RB: Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson
WR: Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, Rashied Davis, Mark Bradley
TE: Desmond Clark, Jason McKie (FB)
The Bears made Super Bowl XLI with Rex Grossman as the starting QB. That’s all you need to know about how good the defense and special teams were. In terms of the offense, similar to 2010, the weapons were serviceable and good but not great.
Jones was a real workhorse, and Benson was decent as a change of pace back. Muhammad was a reliable possession WR, Berrian was a great deep threat, and Davis and Bradley were solid as the 3rd and 4th WRs. McKie was big for opening up holes for the RBs, and Clark was a solid TE who did what he needed to.
Obviously we will have to see this current group play before we can make definitive rankings, but preseason, I would go:
2018/2006/2010 same level
High praise for this year’s offensive arsenal. Let’s hope they come through.