The start of the regular season is nearly upon us. 21 days to be exact for the Chicago Bears, who will open things up in Houston on Sept. 11.
There’s a lot going on with the Bears lately in terms of injuries, depth concerns and overall talent.
Here to discuss the latest with me in this Bears Backer roundtable is CSN Chicago’s Joe Tidei. Enjoy.
Perper: If you could pinpoint one area on this team that is and will be a strength what is that? Because right now health is a serious issue Joe.
Tidei: Health definitely is a serious issue Jake and the Bears have depth issues at multiple positions. I believe though that OLB is the strength of this team. The Bears have both talent and depth at this position. Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Leonard Floyd offer lots of versatility for Vic Fangio.
The one question mark is Pernell McPhee and how serious his knee situation is. So there are some health concerns at OLB too, but Young and Houston’s emergence late last year was huge for this defense. Both are consistent, reliable performers that offer leadership and then you add Floyd to the mix which makes for a strong unit in the front 7.
Tidei: In both Carolina and Denver, John Fox had guys that broke out and became impact players. Who is your breakout player on this Bears team in 2016 and why?
Perper: That’s a great question Joe. Right now I’d have to say defensively that’s going to be Willie Young. With the concerns around Pernell McPhee’s knee, I expect Young to be the guy who the defense rallies around. He really showed he can play in this defense no matter where he lines up along the front.
In terms of offense, Jeremy Langford is going to carry the load and rightfully so after his preseason performances. He has looked strong, to say the least. I know he struggled at times to gain yards in the trenches and to catch passes out of the backfield, but he is improving and the Bears have to like what they have in him. The hope is that his left foot injury isn’t too serious.
Perper: Again I’ll go back to health Joe, but well before those issues I thought some positions were thin. Which areas concern you the most and why?
Tidei: A few positions concern me Jake and those are the offensive line, secondary and quarterback. Trading Matt Slauson may have been because of system fit, but with Hroniss Grasu ‘s season-ending knee injury, the Bears are very thin up front. Beyond the starters, I don’t feel good about talent depth of this group.
I tend to think the secondary can be a bit overrated if a defense can get consistent pressure from its front seven, but with questions about Kyle Fuller’s knee, that’s a blow to an already thin group. Fangio can do some things to hide and scheme their weaknesses, but if the front seven can’t get a pass rush, the secondary becomes vulnerable.
Lastly, quarterback is a big concern because I have no idea who the answer is if Jay Cutler gets injured. Brian Hoyer was brought in to be that guy, but he’s been poor in both training camp and two preseason games. That leaves David Fales and Connor Shaw, neither of whom I have a lot of confidence so the Bears need to hope Cutler stays healthy.
Tidei: Let’s say the Bears stay relatively healthy this year and don’t suffer too many key injuries. What do you think the ceiling and the floor are for the Bears in 2016?
Perper: Let’s get one thing straight do I think the Bears are all of a sudden going to be contenders in John Fox’s second season here? No. But will they better? I believe so. They have so much athleticism, young talent and unknown players. This is why they will play with an edge. The Bears only have eight players who are over the age of 30.
I would say their floor would have to be either 7-9 or 8-8 simply because of that unknown factor but I could see this team taking a big step forward to a record of 10-6 or 9-7 if they can come together. They were in nearly every game last season even with a slew of injuries and a clear lack of depth.
Perper: This has been fun Joe. Thanks for joining me I hope we can do it again sometime soon.
Tidei: This was awesome Jake, thanks for having me! I agree. Let’s definitely do this again!
Note: Joe is an associate producer at CSN Chicago. Give him a follow on Twitter @Joe_Tidei. He talks Chicago sports all day every day.
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