As we count down the days (104 of them, to be precise) until the Bears open up their (and the NFL’s) centennial season, we’ll start taking a closer look at what this team can be in the year to come. And thanks to ESPN’s Mike Clay, we can use today as an opportunity to check out what the forecast looks like from a numbers perspective.
The ESPN insider shared his projected stats for the 2019 Chicago Bears, and there is much to sort through:
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 20, 2019
Let’s dive into some highlights:
Mitch Trubisky Projects To Be As Good As Last Year
Clay’s projections for Trubisky look good on the computer screen:
- 3,819 yards
- 25 touchdowns
- 12 interceptions
- 386 rushing yards
- 3 touchdowns
Those are solid numbers, but it wouldn’t be the step up into the upper echelon of quarterback rankings fans are clamoring for in 2019. To see Trubisky’s touchdown percentage dip from 5.5% to 4.9% would be disappointing, but the numbers also hint at Trubisky’s interception rate dropping from 2.8% to 2.2%. A lower rate of turnovers from Trubisky would be welcomed with open arms.
Getting More Than 2,100 Scrimmage Yards From the Top Two Backs
The Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen tag team did wonderful things for the Bears last year, but change has come. Howard is out, while rookie David Montgomery and veteran Mike Davis are in. And while change can be scary for some, it’s opposing defenses that should be worried about what the Bears can throw in their direction.
Montgomery projects to get a bulk of the carries (215), rushing yards (950), and ground scores (6). Meanwhile, Cohen still figures to be a key component in the passing game getting more catches (59), receiving yards (570), and touchdown grabs (4). But together, Cohen and Montgomery (Cohtgomery? Montghen?) the two combine for 2,154 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 386 touches. If the Bears’ running backs are getting nearly 25 touches per game, that means good things are happening.
Upgrading From Parkey to Piñeiro
Not only did pre-draft projections saw Chris Blewitt as the winner of the Bears’ kicking competition, the numbers suggested he was going to be a significant upgrade from Cody Parkey. But an updated roster has recently acquired Eddy Piñeiro as The Man who takes over in the hot seat at the place-kicker position. And the early projections forecast Piñeiro to also represent a step up from what Parkey produced last season: 25/30 on field goals (83.3%), 35/38 on extra points (92.1%).
If Clay’s projections are accurate, the Bears’ summertime kicking competition could be a heated one. Blewitt projected to make 26 of 30 field goals, as well as 36 of 38 extra-point attempts. If the Bears’ kicking carnival churns out a suitable kicker, then the entire organization will be better for it.
In addition to cranking out team and player numbers for 2019, Clay’s work churned out score projections for each of the NFL’s 256 regular season games. Take a look:
Early score projections for all 256 NFL games during the 2019 regular season: pic.twitter.com/wsaEnRYelE
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 17, 2019
Last year’s projections figured the Bears would take a step up from being a bottom-feeder to a 7-win team that had potential for more. But that was before they had Khalil Mack. This year’s projections with Mack, an improved Trubisky, and more paint a portrait of optimism.
Based on the numbers, things are looking pretty good for the Bears. A 25-21 win in Week 1 against the Packers would certainly go a long way toward set the tone for the 2019 season. Going through the schedule on a week-by-week basis, these projections would have the Bears posting 11 wins against just 5 losses. If that’s how it plays out, then you could throw the “poster boys for regression” piece out the window. But before we do that, we should note that these are projections and not predictions. Further, it wouldn’t take much for things to go south quickly.
Nine of the Bears’ projected 11 wins are by seven points or fewer, including one-point victories against the Chargers at home and Lions on the road. And simply thinking about the potential of a close-call, two-point triumph against the Chiefs makes me itchy. Then again, four of the Bears’ five losses are projected to be by three points or fewer. As for the fifth loss, there wouldn’t be any shame in a six-point defeat at the hands of the defending NFC Champion Rams.
But still … Clay’s projections show how fragile a season can be. Things can turn on any given play and any given instance could provide a make-or-break moment.