On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers kick off their season against their archrivals, the Chicago Bears. Lester Wiltfong of Windy City Gridiron was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Bears and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: The Bears appear to have every intention of playing Khalil Mack Sunday night. Given that he hasn’t spent time in an NFL facility all offseason and arrived in Chicago just a week before the season opener, what concerns, if any, do you have about him playing so soon? How do you expect the Bears will utilize him this week?
I expect the Bears to play Mack in most obvious passing situations, and I have no concerns about him being ready to go. He’s a four year NFL veteran that understands what it takes to get his body ready for the season. While he may not be in “football shape,” he’ll be in shape enough to give the Bears 20-30 snaps on defense to harass Aaron Rodgers.
APC: While the Mack addition has understandably garnered most of the attention surrounding Sunday’s game, Matt Nagy will make his regular-season debut as the Bears head coach. Based on what you’ve seen through training camp and the preseason, which players on Chicago’s roster will benefit the most from the new coach and offensive scheme?
Nagy was brought in to work with Mitchell Trubisky. In fact, the entire offensive coaching staff, and the offensive free agent additions, were all brought in with Trubisky’s development in mind. Nagy is coming over from the Chiefs and he’s bringing that tight end-centric offense with him. Training camp saw a bunch of different looks from the tight ends, but Nagy also has big plans for his “Zebra” position. In K.C. that was Tyreek Hill, but in Chicago it’ll be speedy wide out Taylor Gabriel, and running back Tarik Cohen. The Bears purposefully showed nothing in preseason, so I’m excited to see the offense I saw in training camp be unveiled on Sunday night.
APC: The Bears traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to make Mitch Trubisky the top quarterback selected that year. Since then, fellow rookies Deshaun Watson put together half a season of MVP-level play and Patrick Mahomes pushed out Alex Smith in Kansas City while Trubisky endured a pedestrian rookie season (12 games, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions). Do you think the Bears would have been better served had they drafted one of the other QBs last year instead of Trubisky?
I’ll give you Watson, but which one of Mahomes 22 completions from last year was your favorite? If Trubisky’s 7 TDs to 7 Ints was pedestrian, then what was Mahomes’ 0 TDs to 1 Int?
GM Ryan Pace had Trubisky atop his board and he did what he had to do to take him. There was enough smoke about another team moving up for Trubisky to cause Pace to pull the trigger, and I’ll never fault a general manager for doing what ever it takes to get the guy he believes in.
Now with that being said, Trubisky wasn’t my favorite quarterback prospect that year. As a fan, I had it Watson, Mahomes, and then Trubisky, but Pace and his scouts had their guy a clear cut number one. Trubisky was also a big part of why Nagy wanted to come to Chicago. He scouted him when he was in Kansas City the year before, and he believes he’s a perfect fit for the offense he plans to implement.
APC: If you were in charge of game planning against the Bears, how would you attack the Bears on offense? On defense?
Trubisky is still a young QB, and you need to rattle him. I’d blitz him as much as possible until he proves he can handle it. I’d blitz up the middle and play contain on the edges to keep him in the pocket.
Defensively I’d attack the Bears with short quick passes to negate their pass rush and to put pressure on their secondary.
APC: Finally, it’s prediction time. Which team wins on Sunday and why?
I had the Packers winning. I even had them winning after the Bears made the Mack trade. But with Mack and Roquan Smith practicing in full, and with the confidence and swagger the team has surrounding them, and with the unknown aura about the Bears’ offense, I’m going Bears 24, Packers 23.
We’d like to thank Lester and Windy City Gridiron for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there, as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Bears. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Bears vs. Packers.