The Bears roster was ranked 21st in the NFL.

The last list ESPN had wasn’t too kind to the Chicago Bears, so using that one as context, this last list isn’t too bad. That other list had the Bears’ Super Bowl era QB status at 32nd in the league, so this ranking 21 is good by comparison.

Until we dive a little deeper into it …

This latest ESPN Insider list is their ranking on the Pro Football Focus 2020 NFL list for the 32 teams, and while they present it as a list of the best to the worst in the league, they also say they do so “with an eye toward projected. incoming “, which leads me to believe that the list is weighted towards the first stringers.

What makes sense …

This is where they had the handful of teams in front of and after the Bears.

17. Minnesota Vikings – Did you know that the Vikings have not beaten the Bears since 2017?

18. New England Patriots: It’s weird to see the Patriots ranked so low, but with Tom Brady gone, they will have something to prove in 2020.

19. Detroit Lions: Detroit has only won 9 games in the past two years and hasn’t beaten the Bears since 2017 either.

20. Atlanta Falcons: After 2 consecutive playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017, the Falcons have won 7 games each of the past 2 years.

  • 21. Chicago Bears: If the Bears’ offense doesn’t improve in 2020, they are likely to miss 9 postseasons in the past 10 years.

22. Los Angeles Rams – In three years under Sean McVay, the Rams have never had a losing record.

23. Houston Texans – The Texans have won the last 2 AFC South titles.

24. Arizona Cardinals – Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray has the Cardinals on the rise.

25. Las Vegas Raiders: The last time Jon Gruden trained the Raiders was in the third year when it all came together for the franchise with a 12-win season in 2000 after having .500 the previous two years.

Now let’s see what PFF / ESPN said about their 21st team, the Bears.

Greater strength: With Akiem Hicks’s return from injury and Leonard Floyd’s upgrade to Robert Quinn at the edge defense point against Khalil Mack, the Bears should have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Even in a bad year by his standards in 2019, Mack still scored an overall rating of 86.2. Coming out of his second season in 2015, he has rated above 80.0 as a career defender and passer each season. That makes him the focus of offensive lines, but there aren’t many places to hide when facing Chicago.

There is no discussion from me or any other Bears fan you can imagine with this one. Much is based on health, but on paper this group could be special. Quinn’s addition will be huge for his passing rush as during his nine-year career he averaged nearly 9 sacks per season. Mack has averaged just over 10 in his six seasons, making this tandem the first Bears pair to double-digit sacks in the same year since 1993 when Trace Armstrong and Richard Dent did so.

Greater weakness: Chicago finished the 2019 season ranked 25th on the PFF’s year-end offensive line rankings after a year in which it saw pressure in 2.37 seconds on average, 29th in the NFL ahead of the Dolphins, Chargers and Falcons. . The off-season acquisition of Germain Ifedi is expected to move from tackle to guard in the starting lineup, but has yet to achieve an overall rating of 60.0 in four years as first starting right guard and then right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks. .

I agree that overall play from the offensive line was a weakness last year, but a more efficient quarterback game will help rectify some of that. The rest will be in the new o-line coach, Juan Castillo, to settle, and hopefully he sets his five initials and then allows them to remain in place. In 2018, the Bears’ offensive line was considered a strength, but in 2019 some injuries and combination of positions stunted their cohesion.

X factor for 2020: If Nick Foles can win the starting job as a quarterback, as he is expected to do here, can he provide a significant improvement over what Chicago has received from Mitchell Trubisky in recent seasons? Foles has had flashes of brilliance, namely consecutive elite performances to close out the 2017 postseason, but has also had his low quota outside of Philadelphia. Overall, he has an approval rating of 74.8 over the past three seasons in more than 600 kicks, 10 points more than Trubisky’s mark of 64.6.

Foles has a chance to be a very efficient quarterback on Matt Nagy’s offense, but Trubisky will not go down without a fight. Since it’s been out of season, Trubisky is working on the field, so once the camp opens, on July 21 according to Cole Kmet, we’ll see how the QB battle is fought.

And that’s how PFF has rated the Bears’ starting headlines a year ago.

* 2018 NFL degree or earlier, ** 2019 college degree

Elite (90+ grade), Good / High Quality (80-89.9), Average (70-79.9), Below average (0-69.9)

That Bears defense that ranked eighth overall in 2019 according to DVOA, which was 8th in total yards allowed, ninth lowest number of passing yards allowed, had the eighth lowest passer rating against, ninth lowest. of yards rushing allowed, the sixth-lowest yardage per career, and was the fourth-best in points allowed, for sure he has many players ranked below average according to Pro Football Focus.

With the Bears’ horrible rating on both sides of the ball, it’s a miracle they went 8-8 last season. I suppose the silver lining is that there is much room for improvement in 2020.