Bears try to pick themselves up after worst season in years
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bears insist better days are coming. Then again, it’s hard to imagine things getting worse for them.
The Bears are banking on an overhaul at quarterback as well as a deeper and healthier roster to get them pointed in the right direction coming off their worst season in decades.
”I think we’ve assembled the right kind of guys,” general manager Ryan Pace said. ”I know that. The culture and the vibe of the locker room is really good right now.”
The Bears finished last in the NFC North at 3-13. They posted their lowest win total in a non-strike year since the 1973 team went 3-11 and most losses since 1969.
It certainly did not help that 19 players finished the season on injured reserve. That exposed a lack of depth, and the Bears come into the season with some new faces in key spots.
The most notable change is at quarterback.
The Bears parted with Jay Cutler and signed Mike Glennon. They also brought in veteran backup Mark Sanchez and swung a huge deal to draft Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.
Some things to know as the Bears try to bounce back from their worst season in decades:
TAKING SNAPS: Glennon comes into the season as the starter, though the question remains for how long.
The Bears insist they want to bring along Trubisky slowly because he only started 13 games at North Carolina and worked primarily out of the shotgun. But he dazzled at times during the preseason and sparked a quarterback debate in Chicago.
Glennon barely played behind Jameis Winston the past two years in Tampa Bay. He threw 11 passes last season and did not appear in a game in 2015.
CATCHING ON: Kevin White needs to show he can stay healthy and develop into a No. 1 receiver. The No. 7 overall pick in 2015 missed his rookie season because of a stress fracture in his left shin. White was limited to four games last year with a broken left leg. He was leading the Bears in receptions with 19 for 187 yards when he went down.
With Alshon Jeffery gone and Cameron Meredith suffering a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, White needs to step up.
HEATING UP: Coach John Fox could be feeling the heat if the Bears struggle again. He is 9-23 in two seasons after overseeing turnarounds in Carolina and Denver that produced losing trips to the Super Bowl with each team.
Patience is running thin. The Bears played to shrinking crowds last year on the way to their third straight losing record.
With his contract set to expire in 2018, it’s fair to wonder how much longer Fox will be around if Chicago does not progress.
TAKE IT AWAY: The Bears believe they have the makings of a strong front seven if they stay healthy, with nose tackle Eddie Goldman, defensive end Akiem Hicks and linebackers Danny Trevathan and Leonard Floyd leading the way.
Creating more havoc up front would help take the load off a shaky secondary and maybe lead to a few more takeaways. Chicago produced a league-low 11 last season and had just eight interceptions. Only Jacksonville (seven) had fewer.
”I saw spurts of us last year just blooming and being that four-quarter team to win games, close games,” Trevathan said. ”A lot of people are not seeing the work that we’re putting in.”
RUN AWAY: The Bears tied for fourth in the NFL in yards per carry and 25th in attempts last year. Playing from behind had something to do with it, but so did the play calling.
Either way, Jordan Howard was a steal as a fifth-round pick. All he did was finish second to Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott with 1,313 yards rushing.
”We tried to stay with it as much as we could, but you are fighting the clock and you are fighting the score,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. ”A lot of credit goes to Jordan because Jordan has made some explosive runs.”
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