The Rams and Eagles invested heavily on offense in 2017 to help out Jared Goff and Carson Wentz after shaky rookie seasons.
When free agency begins, the Chicago Bears are expected to already have deals in place with Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton. All that’s left to do is put pen to paper Wednesday and Mitchell Trubisky will have new receiving threats to work with in 2018.
Trubisky, 23, could’ve used the help as a rookie last year. In 12 starts, he threw just seven touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Chicago finished dead last in passing yards. The team’s leading receiver was Kendall Wright, the only player on the team to top 400 receiving yards by finishing with 614.
By supplying their second-year quarterback with a new group of receiving threats, the Bears are following the same exact plan that helped the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles make tremendous progress between 2016 and 2017.
The Eagles and Rams loaded up to help Carson Wentz and Jared Goff
When Philadelphia won Super Bowl 52 in February, Wentz watched from the sideline after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2017. Had he not torn his ACL in December, Wentz stood a strong chance at being the NFL’s MVP.
After throwing 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a rookie, Wentz launched his passer rating from 79.3 to 101.9 with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Much of that jump had to do with personal progress made by Wentz, but it helped that the Eagles spent big to acquire receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency. They also added LeGarrette Blount to take some of the pressure off Wentz with the ground game.
Los Angeles got an even bigger turnaround out of their second-year quarterback. Goff threw five touchdowns and seven interceptions as a rookie, then 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2017.
Nick Foles is the only player in NFL history who had a bigger passer rating jump from year one to year two than Goff’s climb from 63.6 to 100.5.
And like the Eagles, the Rams helped him get there by investing in the offense. The team signed left tackle Andrew Whitworth and receiver Robert Woods in free agency, drafted Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett, and traded for Sammy Watkins. The Rams went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
It was a strategy that worked well for both teams and resulted in success in 2017.
The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have as much work to do this offseason to help second-year quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Houston is on the hunt for offensive line help and Kansas City will add wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
But Chicago had more work to do to help out its young passer.
The Bears could be ripe for a quick turnaround
Every year, teams in the NFL climb from the bottom of the standings to become overnight playoff contenders. A year ago, it was the Rams and the Jaguars who surprised most. Chicago could be a team to keep an eye on in 2018.
Despite the offense struggling to move the ball through the air and stay on the field, the Bears finished No. 9 in points allowed and No. 10 in total defense.
The offense has been centered around Jordan Howard, who’s racked up 2,435 yards and 15 touchdowns in just two seasons with the Bears. He’ll only be helped if Chicago can find a way to start stretching the field.
That begins with Robinson, Gabriel, and Burton, who can inject speed into the Bears’ pass game. But they also have picks No. 8 and 39 in the 2018 NFL Draft to continue adding weapons for Trubisky. So the Bears might just be getting started.