Few head coaches in the NFL enter the 2021 season on a hotter seat than the Chicago Bears’ Matt Nagy. Anything short than a wild-card playoff spot probably means the end of Nagy’s tenure. Here’s a breakdown of the 2021 Bears.
Chicago Bears Season Analysis
Even though rookie first-round pick Justin Fields outplayed veteran Andy Dalton in the preseason, Dalton will be the Week 1 starter at the Los Angeles Rams – but it’s only a matter of time before Fields takes over. Probably by Week 4.
Dalton completed 13 of his 21 passes for 164 yards with one TD and one pick in two preseason games – he didn’t play in the third one. A total of 73 of his 164 passing yards came on one passing play. Dalton finished with an 82.2 passer rating. During his three games, Fields completed 30 of his 49 passes. He threw for 276 yards, two touchdowns, and finished with a 96.9 passer rating. He also added one rushing score.
The Bears gave Dalton $10 million in March to be the starting quarterback and they are going to give him the opportunity to show what he can do with the first-team offense in a real game.
“The stock for us in Andy is going to see what he does for us during the season,” Nagy said. “We have to see what Andy can do during the season with this team and with these guys. That has been our plan this whole entire time.”
Last year’s primary starter, Nick Foles, is still on the roster but the Bears want to trade him. The problem is that he has a hefty guaranteed contract and isn’t that much better than most other teams’ backups. For some reason, the Bears will only trade Foles to a destination he approves. Chicago would clear $4 million in cap space with a deal and the Bears don’t need three QBs on the active roster.
Chicago will open the season with one-time Pro Bowl running back Tarik Cohen as he is on the PUP list. There is still no timetable for Cohen’s return as the electric pass-catcher tries to work his way back from the ACL injury he suffered in 2020 but he has to miss at least six games. Damien Williams will serve as David Montgomery’s backup and perhaps get some work as a receiver.
Nagy wants Montgomery to get 20 carries per game this year. Montgomery carried the football 20-plus times in only four games last year, including the playoffs. He still tied for fifth in total rushing yards (1,070) and finished fourth in carries (247) in 2020, but 77 of Montgomery’s rushing attempts occurred over the final three weeks of the regular season.
Chicago moved up in the second round of this year’s draft to take Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, but he could miss the season. The team has put him on the active roster with the intent of then moving him to injured reserve. Those moves would allow Jenkins to return to game action late in the season after having back surgery Aug. 18. The Bears released longtime starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. in May, seemingly paving the way for Jenkins to take over the position. The team signed long-time Eagles tackle Jason Peters to take Jenkins’ spot. Peters played eight games in 2020 and was placed on injured reserve in December with a toe injury that required surgery.
Defensively, the Bears won’t be dominant but could be a Top 10 unit under new coordinator Sean Desai, who previously coached safeties for the squad. Desai is the Bears’ third defensive coordinator in four seasons as he took over for a retired Chuck Pagano, who held the job for two seasons and filled the vacancy left by Vic Fangio when Fangio took the job as Broncos head coach. The Bears defense was at its best under Fangio back in 2018, which is why it was so crushing when Fangio left for the Broncos head coaching job.
- 7-10 record, third in NFC North