Starting out 1-1, the Bears have plenty room for improvement
Just like 2018, the Chicago Bears are 1-1 to start the season. But there are stark differences between this year and last year.
Through the first two games of 2018, the Bears were outscoring their opponents 47-40. This year, they have been outscored 24-19. In fact, the Bears managed just three points in the opener before putting 16 together in Sunday's win over the Denver Broncos.
The offense hasn't been as efficient or productive (one touchdown so far), the defense hasn't been as dominant (495 passing yards allowed), and kicker Eddy Pineiro is responsible for 12 of the 19 points that the Bears have scored. The good news for Chicago is the next three opponents (Washington, Minnesota, Oakland) have a combined record of 2-4 thus far. But those teams also have combined to score 136 points, which is an average of about 23 per game. So the Bears are going to have to either find a way to put some more points on the scoreboard or the defense is going to have to be extra stingy.
Knowing what lies ahead, here are five concerns that the Bears need to alleviate as they prepare to take on the Redskins on "Monday Night Football."
1. Mitchell Trubisky needs to play better
The No. 2 overall draft pick from 2017 has regressed to some degree. At this time last season, Trubisky was completing 74 percent of his attempts for 371 yards with two touchdowns. Two games into this season, Trubisky is still looking for his first TD and is completing 58 percent of his attempts. The big plays have been missing (longest pass completion is 27 yards), and while he has thrown just one interception, he's already been sacked five times. Trubisky just doesn't look comfortable in the field, as he's been hesitant to take many deep shots and at times seems unsure where to throw the ball.
In his defense, he has had to face to pretty good defenses in Greey Bay and Denver, the latter on the road, but he also needs to shake off this early-season rust. Fans both on social media and on Chicago sports radio are already calling for him to be benched/traded. Expectations for Trubisky and this offense were pretty high entering this season. There are still plenty of games to go but the sooner Chicago's offense finds its rhythm the better.
2. Let's run the ball more
Entering Week 3 last season, the Bears had already accumulated 225 rushing yards and a touchdown. This year, the Bears are at 199 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Rookie David Montgomery has done most of the damage (team-high 80 rushing yards) but he's the only who has gotten double-digit carries (24) thus far. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is next with 48 yards, which he has gained on just three carries. No other running back has a gain of more than nine yards on a single carry. The whole point to trading Jordan Howard, signing Mike Davis (8 rushing yards) in free agency, and drafting Montgomery and Kerrith Whyte Jr. (hasn't played yet), then pairing them with Tarik Cohen (just 18 yards on four carries) was supposed to give the Bears even more options out of the backfield.
If head coach/play-caller Matt Nagy can find a way to get more production out of his backs it would help Trubisky tremendously. As we all know, in the NFL a quarterback's best friend is the supporting cast around him.
3. Where are Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, and Cordarrelle Patterson?
Allen Robinson has done his part thus far (11 catches, 143 yards, 13 ypr), and Tarik Cohen is right behind him on the stat sheet (15 receptions, 56 yards). But Miller, Gabriel, and Patterson (from a receiving standpoint) have combined for five catches for 40 yards with Gabriel having the longest reception among them (15 yards). These three were supposed to help Trubisky put up his best numbers as a passer. There's still time for that to happen, but right now Trubisky doesn't seem to be on the same page with his receivers.
4. Need more from their tight ends
This offense hasn't quite gotten enough from this position yet. Adam Shaheen (5 catches, 30 yards) and Ben Braunecker (3, 24) have seen the most action. Trey Burton (3 rec., 5 yds. vs. Denver) is still making his way back from injury, while Bradley Sowell is mainly being used as a blocker. Hopefully, Burton will get back to his previous form in short order. But the bottom line is that the tight end position is vital to the success of this Bears offense.
5. Get it together, defense
While Chuck Pagano's unit has already collected seven sacks and 13 tackles for a loss, they've also given up 495 passing yards, 137 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. The Bears have surrendered 21 plays of 10 or more yards and looked tired late in the fourth quarter when Denver scored their only touchdown and the two-point conversion to give the Broncos a 14-13 lead. Playing in thin air in the Mile High City is a chore for any visiting team, but Chicago's defense also has made things harder with some inopportune penalties and have generated just one takeaway thus far. The offense's lack of consistency hasn't helped, but everyone knows that the Bears need their defense to play more like it did last season if they are to be a serious contender in the NFC.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.