Each offseason, every NFL team focuses on at least one area in need of an upgrade. So what aspect of the Chicago Bears is looking better these days?
Training camp begins later this month for all 32 NFL teams. So that means another preview series from End Zone Score. Dating back to early March, we have taken time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers and previewed an up-and-coming player for each franchise.
Contrary to popular opinions, no team in the league is perfect. That’s why there’s a constant search for talent when it comes to this game. Each club has done its best to bolster its roster. So in this instance, we are going to take a glance at each franchise and pinpoint the department in which it made the most strides this offseason. We have already looked at the AFC East, NFC East and AFC North. After previewing the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, we wrap up the NFC North with the Chicago Bears.
Only three teams in the league totaled fewer points than John Fox’s Chicago Bears in 2016. The club’s offensive unit produced only 29 touchdowns, including only 19 through the air. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley combined for 18 touchdown passes and 24 turnovers. By the way, the other TD toss by a member of the Bears last season was courtesy of wide receiver Cameron Meredith.
Speaking of the pass-catcher, he led Chicago with 66 grabs and 888 receiving yards this past year. He and tight end Zach Miller tied for the team lead with four scoring receptions. Meredith is one of the few holdovers from a wide receiving corps that was less-than-spectacular this past season. Alshon Jeffery is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and Marquess Wilson signed with the New York Jets. The Bears also parted ways with veteran Eddie Royal. Meanwhile, Kevin White continues to disappoint after being the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
So enter WR Markus Wheaton (Pittsburgh Steelers), Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans) and Victor Cruz (New York Giants). They’re joined by another one-time member of the Big Blue in Rueben Randle. He wasn’t on an NFL roster this past year. Wright finishes with 29 catches for 416 yards and three scores for Mike Mularkey’s club. Cruz finally got back on the field in 2016 and responds with 39 grabs for 586 yards, albeit one touchdown. Wheaton suffers through an injury-plagued season in the Steel City, limited to four receptions in eight games. The previous two years, he combined for 97 catches, good for 1,393 yards and seven touchdowns.
Of course, this new group of targets hope to benefit the Chicago Bears new quarterback quartet. It includes Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez, Connor Shaw and rookie Mitchell Trubisky. What will really help this offense is the presence of quality running back Jordan Howard, who finished second in the NFL in rushing this past year. In any case, if these veteran newcomers can mesh and Kevin White can finally live up to expectations, this will be a vastly-improved unit.