Ah yes, you can almost smell it in the air. Grills are going, pigskins are being tossed around, and the Chicago Bears play football in less than seven days. If your excitement is through the roof, then you're not alone. With every week in the NFL campaign comes a new test, a new episode of sorts in the season-long drama. For the Bears, there are a number of things to keep tabs on with Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers approaching.
One thing is certain, fans will learn who the four permanent captains are this week. We took a stab at predicting the captains ourselves ahead of the announcement. That said, let's dive into some of the other storylines this week.
Time for Getsy to Remove the Training Wheels
During the NFL preseason, many teams run the most basic versions of their offenses. It's more of an opportunity to gauge talent on the roster and less of a showcase for the playbook. In this case, Bears' wide receiver Darnell Mooney confirmed that suspicion with his quote on Monday:
Three to four plays?! If that's all the Bears ran, especially in the preseason finale against Cleveland, then watch out. This offense is clearly more complex than what we've seen in exhibition game action. For the Bears, maybe they will surprise people with an offense tailored to the strengths of QB1 Justin Fields.
It's important to set the degree of excitement, however. The Bears won't show all their cards in Week 1, but the playbook will be more open than it has been to this point. Expect a lot of good, with plenty of new plays to come over the course of the season.
Naturally, every Chicago Bears' fan will wonder what kind of impact Roquan Smith is going to have on Sunday. After missing the entire preseason, it's uncertain what shape he'll be in. Although it's safe to believe he'll like the version of himself we've become accustomed to, nothing is 100% certain.
This storyline can be broken into two parts. The first, what kind of impact on the stat sheet will Smith have, and secondly, what kind of impact is he going to have from the Will linebacker spot in this new 4-3 scheme?
On the field, it's safe to assume Smith is good for roughly 10 tackles per game. Even on the weak side of the defense, Smith will have several opportunities to make plays. The Will and Mike linebackers often account for the most tackles in today's NFL.
As for his fit in the scheme, that will be the larger adjustment for Smith, in my opinion. He's playing away from the strength when he was historically the strong side middle backer in the old 3-4 look. How will he adapt to not calling the defense and being away from the strength of the offense on every single play? It's going to be fun to see his adjustment beginning this week.
Who Steps Up?
With a roster full of young, unproven players, this season will offer chances for several of them to step up and make plays. This idea applies to both sides of the ball.
On defense, who will show up and show out? We know as fans what Robert Quinn, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson bring to the table. However, what will some of the rookies such as Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker do to make plays? Will others step up on defense and become reliable players when a big play is needed?
As for the offense, this storyline primarily relates to the No. 2 receiver position. David Montgomery is a known commodity, we're all excited to see Justin Fields, and Darnell Mooney is the surefire No. 1 wideout. However, who becomes Fields' second go-to guy? Will it be Cole Kmet at tight end? How about Byron Pringle or Velus Jones Jr.? There are several names with question marks attached to their roles. Who steps up and becomes a stabilizer on offense?
What's On Tap for the Bears?
For now, we wait until Sunday. The NFL season opens Thursday when the Buffalo Bills pay a visit to the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
As for the Chicago Bears, they welcome the San Francisco 49ers to Soldier Field to open the season. The Week 1 contest will air on FOX for those in the market and will be one of those great Sunday 12:00 PM CDT starts.