LAST YEAR: In his first year, coach Matt Nagy took Bears to playoffs for first time since 2010 with NFC North title. Linebacker Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson and lineman Akiem Hicks led NFL’s top scoring defense. Nagy’s creative play calling contributed, but offense ranked only 21st. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky improved drastically over his rookie year, but was inconsistent. Ground attack was also spotty, leading to trade of RB Jordan Howard. Season ended on Cody Parkey’s double-doink field goal miss vs. Eagles, and Parkey was cut.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB Buster Skrine, WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, RB David Montgomery, RB Mike Davis, K Eddie Pineiro, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: S Adrian Amos, DB Bryce Callahan, RB Howard, WR Josh Bellamy, K Parkey, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
CAMP NEEDS: Trubisky has to make fewer risky throws and expand knowledge of Nagy’s offense. Either Montgomery or Davis must win starting running back job because Tarik Cohen is Mr. Excitement, but not every-down runner. Pagano’s scheme changes need to take hold. Above all, kicker must be identified between Pineiro and Elliott Fry following massive kicker search.
EXPECTATIONS: Chicago is going for first back-to-back playoff berths since 2005-06, and Nagy’s high-energy approach has Bears moving in right direction. Mack had 12 ½ sacks and should benefit from training camp after missing it last year while holding out before being traded by Raiders. Bears led NFL at forcing turnovers, but duplicating that will be tough. So they may need more production from wide receiver Allen Robinson, who had slow start while getting beyond previous anterior cruciate ligament tear.
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