The Chicago Bears cannot seem to get out of their own way. Even with an offseason to work through their quarterback problems, all that was solved was the fact that they believe in Andy Dalton more than Mitch Trubisky.
While Dalton’s acumen certainly can lend itself to making better decisions with the football and committing fewer turnovers, like the ones that Trubisky regularly threw himself into. Dalton’s limitations are quite evident as well, as shown by his season with the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Matt Nagy will have full control over who to blame in what looks to likely be the final season (barring some miracle) for himself as HC and Ryan Pace as general manager.
With Nagy returning to calling plays for this offense, there are a few things that are going to be re-introduced into the Bears’ offense. Whether it benefits them or not is still to be determined. The reason Nagy got the job leading the Bears, is due to his work on the offensive staff alongside Andy Reid in Kansas City. However, he has failed to replicate any sort of that success in the NFC North, leading many to believe he may just have been the wrong choice.
Regardless of the driving force behind why the change back to Nagy was made, it is very easy to see that as long as he is in charge of calling plays, the offense will struggle. Here are three expectations for the Nagy-led offense heading into the 2021 season.
‘21 Will Include A More Balanced Offensive Attack
When Nagy last called plays in the 2019 season, he received a ton of flak for how unbalanced his play calls were, siding heavily with throwing the ball over rushing. With Trubisky not being a capable option to rely on throwing the ball 30+ times every game, the reliance from Nagy on Trubisky’s arm never truly made sense.
The hope here is that the formulation for a successful offensive attack in the eyes of the HC is to run out more of a balanced attack. Nagy needs to utilize his backs David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and even Damien Williams to tote the rock more.
As a unit, the Bears offense has struggled in the past due to its reliance on either running or passing the ball too heavily. Not losing sight of what the three-headed RB group can do is going to be just as important as well. A successful rushing attack very much takes the pressure off of Dalton. When he was at his best in Cincinnati, both Giovanni Bernard and Joe Mixon were integrated into the game plan on a heavy basis, regardless of through running or catching the ball.
Lucky for all three Chicago backs, they are well versed enough in catching the ball (especially Cohen) that they can be utilized in different forms, giving Nagy a lot of different looks to utilize.
Tight End Usage Will Remain High
Jimmy Graham was brought in after the Green Bay Packers let him go, and for some reason, Chicago felt that he still had something left in the tank. While not expecting the Graham of old to pop up again, the kind of performance that Graham produced in his two seasons north of Chicago should have been enough to show them how little he has left.
Now, Graham’s role has actually been decent with the Bears, and his usage rate (provided his rocky health history remains good enough) in this offense has kept him relevant. With Nagy re-taking over, it seems like Graham’s role should solidify yet again for ‘21.
But it shouldn’t – that responsibility should go to the best TE on their roster, Cole Kmet.
The Notre Dame product produced (28/243/2) in his first season, he just needs to be given the TE1 snaps to be able to prove he was worth a second-round pick.
While Graham certainly is not a bad TE to have on a roster, he cannot block to be relevant and his receiving work should be given to Kmet. Remember, Dalton thrived when Tyler Eifert was healthy back in Cincinnati, and Kmet is more athletic than Eifert. Given the chance, Kmet should be able to replicate that field-splitting role that Dalton loves to take advantage of.
The Establishing Of A Bonafide WR2 Will Make Robinson More Efficient
Allen Robinson has been surrounded by below-average quarterback play for the entirety of his career. Obviously, he did not choose the ways of mediocrity down in Jacksonville, he did however turn down an offer to join the Packers. He was led to believe that Trubisky would be a step-up from Blake Bortles.
Robinson’s game has only evolved since making that jump to the NFC. Even with his rumored holdout coming, he squashed any of those rumors and became interested in playing in blue and orange again next season. However, the Bears are desperately needing to develop another WR option next to him, especially with Dalton being used to having two bonafide targets on the outside.
With both A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd manning the starting roles for the Bengals, Dalton was free to throw the ball all over the field, knowing that those two options were at least somewhere in the vicinity of where he threw it. Dalton will love to be able to throw to Robinson, but also will quickly become attached to Darnell Mooney.
With the Tulane product having put up a strong rookie campaign (61/631/4), he has essentially taken over the WR2 role, pushing Anthony Miller even farther out of the picture in Chicago. Mooney’s role in this offense is one that helps open up many opportunities for Robinson and other weapons, and his field-splitting abilities are something that Dalton should be able to take advantage of this year.
With Dalton in the fold, both Robinson and Mooney should be able to at least replicate, if not improve upon, their ‘21 seasons. Who knows, maybe by just barely eclipsing the bare minimum expectations, Nagy and Pace could keep their jobs. People can have dreams – not all are realistic, however.