With the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to cancel the preseason, certain decisions the Chicago Bears need to make will be muddled.
The NFL and the NFLPA (players union) made some agreements this week that have big implications on rosters. Teams like the Chicago Bears have position battles that the coaches have to decide and now, with both parties agreeing to cancel the preseason, those decisions are practically made already.
With only training camp to go on, incumbent starters will likely keep their jobs. That is unless they really mess up during camp or the players trying to take their jobs have an out of this world performance.
This could have a huge impact on the season. Take, for example, the most important position on the roster, the quarterback. There was supposed to be a competition between the incumbent starter, Mitchell Trubisky, and the newcomer trying to take his job, Nick Foles.
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The Bears brought in Foles to push Trubisky. Some felt, however, that Foles could ultimately beat out Trubisky for the starting job. Foles has experience in head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive system. Foles worked with Nagy when the two were with the Philadelphia Eagles and with the Kansas City Chiefs. Foles also has experience with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
All of this put Trubisky against the wall and how he reacted to the pressure would be important. Now, with the preseason canceled, Trubisky likely starts.
That doesn’t mean Trubisky is in the clear, though. Nagy will have a short leash As soon as he struggles, Nagy knows he has a backup in Foles who can handle the job. He did come off the bench and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl MVP in the process.
What happens with the Chicago Bears’ right guard battle?
A battle that also has big implications but is muddier is the battle for right guard. With the quarterback competition, you have two players and an incumbent. With the right guard battle, there is no incumbent, really. Yes, Rashaad Coward was the starter when the Bears placed Kyle Long on injured reserve, thus ending his season, but he’s a converted defensive lineman who is still learning the position.
This offseason, Long retired (or was pushed out if you believe him). There are a number of players who were supposed to fight for the job. Aside from Coward, there is Alex Bars, who spent most of his rookie season getting back to form after blowing his knee in his senior season at Notre Dame. In addition, there is free agent signee Germain Ifedi. He was with the Seattle Seahawks but he struggled at right tackle. He did a good job in his rookie season as a right guard so the Bears hope he can do it again in Chicago.
With no preseason games to gauge their play, the coaches need to lean on what happens during training camp. Camp won’t have the same laid-back time periods that sometimes happen during long camps. This year, training camp will be intense. It’ll be interesting to see how this competition progresses without anyone outside of the team witnessing since fans aren’t allowed in camp and there are no preseason games to watch.
Another agreement hurts Chicago Bears players on the fringe
Another agreement made was the shortening of the training camp roster from 93 to 80. That impacts the undrafted rookies and veterans on the fringe trying to make the team. Some of those players have a chance to be diamonds in the rough and end up being contributors to the team.
The Chicago Bears have to notable undrafted rookies fighting to make team. Running back Artavis Pierce and defensive end/linebacker Ledarius Mack (Khalil’s brother) were expected to fight for roster spots. Pierce could help the running backs corps in a big way. The Bears only have Tarik Cohen as David Montgomery‘s backup but he is more of a gadget player. He is more effective catching passes out of the backfield or in the slot.
Pierce is a speedy back who averaged 5.8 yards per rush in his college career. He can be a good complement to Montgomery’s elusiveness tough running. He could be a better backup than Cohen. Cohen can continue to be a gadget and succeed that way.
Mack has the name going for him but he needs to get out of his big brother’s shadow. This is an elite Chicago Bears defense and he has to show that he is more than Khalil’s brother and make a mark of his own.
With no preseason games, the coaches won’t get to look at the players at the end of the roster much. The main players need to get their work in so that takes time away from the players on the bubble. Also, with the roster down to 80, there are some players who could have contributed who won’t even make it to camp. Let’s hope these changes actually work to help the Chicago Bears choose the best roster to compete in 2020.