Dave Choate: Here's my biggest question, both as a mild Mitch Trubisky enthusiast and Mike Glennon fantasy owner: How long will Glennon hold down the starting job before Trubisky takes over, and what will be the catalyst for a change?
Jeff Berckes: I’m on record as saying Week 5. The schedule makers did the Bears no favors this year as September brings the Falcons, at the Buccaneers, the Steelers, and at the Packers for a Thursday night game. Week 5 is a home contest against the Vikings and there will be 10 days of prep between the Packers and Vikings. Trubisky has shown enough in preseason that a poor showing for Glennon in September will seal his fate. If Glennon keeps his job into October, the best guess would be week 9 after the bye, a home tilt against the Packers. For John Fox, who is most certainly on a hot seat this year, this will be a card he may need to play earlier than later to save his bacon. PS. Owning Mike Glennon in fantasy is not advisable unless you’re in a 16 team 2-QB league.
Dave Choate: The Bears' receiving corps is absolutely decimated at the moment, if I may be so blunt. Who emerges from this group as the team's #1 option, and how big of a priority is this in the offseason, assuming Cameron Meredith recovers on schedule?
Jeff Berckes: That is a really good question. Bears fans were incredibly excited about Cam Meredith before he tore his ACL in the preseason. We are talking about the development of an undrafted free agent as the #1 target, but so be it, he had earned the hype. Now we’re looking at the third take of the Kevin White experiment and some retreads. A Kevin White breakout would be met with at least mild surprise as most are ready to write him off as a tremendous bust. I’m personally a believer in Kendall Wright as the guy to lead the team in catches and yards while Zach Miller leads in TDs.
As far as the future, I’d say it’s a big priority. The Bears have a good offensive line with a great young running back. They drafted an athletic freak at tight end to pair with their (hopefully) Franchise QB. If that still looks like it’s the case in January, the focus will be on getting outside receivers to take the offense to the next level.
Dave Choate: The defense seems like it may quietly be pretty good this year. Who are your impact players, what should we expect to see from this unit Sunday, and just how good will they end up being?
Jeff Berckes: I’m excited about the front 7. Vic Fangio is starting to line up the pieces the way he wants them. Remember, the Bears had run a 4-3 for about a century before converting to a 3-4 base defense. Eddie Goldman had a great rookie year at nose tackle but struggled to stay healthy in his sophomore campaign. The big name is second year man Leonard Floyd. The Bears traded up two spots to leap the Giants to nab the raw but gifted Georgia Bulldog. He showed flashes of excellence last year and the Bears are expecting him to take the next step in year 2.
Facing the explosive Falcons defense is an excellent early season test. The defense won’t face a bad offense until the Vikings in Week 5 and as the strength of the team, Sunday’s performance will tell a lot about how September will go. I’d expect it will be difficult to run on this squad early on but I’m not sure there is anyone on this roster that can cover Julio Jones.
How good can they be? If the secondary can just be average and the Bears can stay healthy, this squad can aspire to be around the 8 to 12 ranked team in defensive DVOA. They need to draft and develop playmakers in the secondary to fully realize Vic Fangio’s vision.
Dave Choate: John Fox seems like he might be on the hot seat after the last two years. Is he, or is he getting a year to work with the roster as is/Trubisky before that becomes a real question?
Jeff Merckes: A hot debate amongst Bears fans for sure. I think the fan base is going to demand some wins from Fox or the torches will come out if they aren’t already. Fox is not exactly friendly to the media and the Chicago media can be pretty brutal so that’s not helping him. I honestly believe he needs to get this squad to 8-8 to keep his job. Ryan Pace, a young GM hire, brought in Fox immediately after he was unexpectedly let go by Denver. With a young Mitchell Trubisky, I can see the argument of bringing in a top offensive mind to pair with him like the Bucs did with Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston (I realize Koetter was on staff already, but the Bears may not have that luxury). My longshot, fingers-crossed, hope is Sean Payton is cut loose from New Orleans and Pace, who grew up in the Saints organization, plucks him from the Big Easy.
Dave Choate: How good is this Bears team? I know they got extremely unlucky with turnovers a year ago, which doesn't seem sustainable, but do they have the talent to make some noise in the NFC North this year? How many games will they win?
Jeff Berckes: They were better than a 3 win team last year, no question, and they were a tough out in many games. The Bears defense simply did not force turnovers, which is a reflection of a lack of playmakers in the secondary and not getting to the QB often enough. Part of that was due to one of the worst seasons for injuries to starters in recent history. So you assume they’ll be healthier and may get a few more game changing turnovers, but I don’t think this team is ready to compete for a division title. Ultimately, I think this team wins 6-7 games, most of them late in the year.