— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 10, 2017
It’s a beautiful day for football. Let’s enjoy it. Happy Week 1, my friends!
- After going 9-23 over the last two years, it’s winning time for the Chicago Bears. The season-opening lid-lifter against the Atlanta Falcons provides the first opportunity to see if the team assemble by GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox is as good as its billing, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The Bears are at a crossroads while simultaneously operating on parallel tracks, which is as strange to type as it is to read, but it’s where we’re at. The team used the offseason to build for the future (through the draft) and for the present (via short-term deals signed during free agency), but that has left several short-term and long-term questions unanswered. Of course, those questions can answer themselves based on how certain players take off. I’m curious to see who answers the call in 2017.
- One of the players everyone is looking forward to seeing this season is rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. As we all know by now, Mike Glennon – and not Trubisky – will get the call to start the season. Still, the rookie from North Carolina has impressed coaches and teammates with how he has picked things up in his first summer in the NFL. Trubisky’s ability to process life in an NFL offense has been a pleasant surprise to Bears coaches, writes JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago.
- On the defensive side of the ball, there are a pair of second-year players who bring a bit of excitement and upside to the table. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times explains why the Bears are betting on 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard and undrafted free agent Roy Robertson-Harris to hold down spots at defensive end this season. Both players flashed during training camp and preseason, allowing the team to part ways with veteran Jaye Howard in order to roll with a youth movement at the position.
- In case you missed it, Akiem Hicks signed a four-year extension as his presence as an anchor along the defensive line will continue for the foreseeable future. Keeping Hicks in the fold strikes a balance as a building block of the future, while also having an eye on the future.
- On the other side of the line, Kyle Long’s ankle injury might keep him out today (there’s an update here) and could open the Bears up to some different looks to start the opener:
#Bears will either start Grasu at C and move Whitehair to LG or keep Whitehair in place and start Tom Compton at LG. My hunch is Compton.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) September 10, 2017
- Of course, the Bears aren’t the only ones with something to prove in Week 1. Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press writes the Falcons are hoping to get an opening day win against the Bears as a springboard to bigger and better things. With the memories of blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl still fresh, Atlanta hopes its bounce-back campaign begins with a fast start to the 2017 season.
- Members of the Bears secondary will have their work cut out for them lining up across from Julio Jones, who has some lofty goals he could reach – especially if he gets off to a good start against the Bears. Jones tells ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure he believes a 2,000-yard receiving season is possible. It’s never been done, but the NFL has become so throw-happy in recent years, it feels inevitable that someone will crack that number. Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards in 2012) came close and Jones came close to catching him with 1,871 in 2015, but the balance in Atlanta’s offense is a factor that could keep him from reaching that mark.
- On the injury front, reserve running back Brian Hill (ankle) will not play in the opener, while tackle Austin Pasztor (chest, pectoral muscle) was listed as questionable.