It is understood that camp has yet to begin and injuries can always pile up and derail a season before Labor Day. But at this point in the calendar, the Bears look an awful lot like a 10-6 team. Why? Five reasons.
Reason #1: Run Defense
The old baseball maxim is you need to be strong defensively up the middle. I’ve always argued the same goes for football. If you can clog the middle of the field, stop the run, cover the tight end in the seam, prevent the home run, you can defend any offense in the sport.
The 2016 Bears have the potential to be great up the middle. Hicks and Goldman are immovable objects. Freeman and Trevathan are top tier middle linebackers. Amos, while still developing, is an already terrific closer. This crop of players has the ability to make opposing offenses one-dimensional. And that will free up a pretty solid collection of pass rushers to wreck the game.
Stat Prediction: Bears will jump from 22nd in yards rushing allowed per game to top 10.
Reason #2: Fast Start
Bears open at Houston, playing a Texans team that better hope Brock Osweiler is worth the ridiculous amount of money they gave him. They are then home to Philly, playing a team in transition. They then travel to Dallas to play a Cowboys team they’ve beaten handily over the last few years. Then home to Calvin Johnson-less Detroit.
Stat Prediction: Bears open 4-0.
Reason #3: The Belief in Kevin White
The “Kevin White Thing” has played out across the media landscape for the last few months. There was a groundswell of oohs and aahs from onlookers (including teammates) when they caught their first glimpses of the freakishly athletic wideout. That groundswell was, of course, met with a media/fan backlash and a chorus of “hold your horses!” Some, especially here, found balance between the two.
Is White going to be a polished route runner in year one? No. But the Bears won’t ask him to be. His ability to take an innocuous bubble screen for 35 yards will command the attention of opposing defensive coordinators, force them to slide their best tacklers White’s way and free up large chunks of the field for Alshon Jeffery.
Reason #4: Parity Comes to the NFC North
The 2015 Bears were not good.
They split with Green Bay. Lost to Detroit twice by a total of 7 points (including barely losing in Week 17 with a college roster). And missed an easy field goal to split with Minnesota.
The gap was minimal. And they’ve closed it.
Stat Prediction: The 1-5 division record will be no worse than .500 in 2016.
Reason #5: Because It’s What This Coach Does
Carolina. 7-9 year one. 11-5 year two.
Denver. 8-8 year one. 13-3 year two.
Chicago. 6-10 year one.
Stat Prediction: Bears finish 10-6 in year two.