The seventeen weeks of disappointment and heartbreak the Bears have given us have mercifully sputtered to a close, capped off with an all too fitting 23-10 loss at the hands of the Vikings. Without too much to be proud of the 5-11 dud of a season, the offseason may provide some semblance of aid to a bleeding fanbase desperate for a little ray of hope.
So in order to start reminiscing about easily the brightest spot on this team, let’s run down some evaluations for the generally strong 2017 offensive rookie class.
With the amount of pressure on teams to find a franchise quarterback, any swing at finding one is already enough to drum up a fanbase but when a team trades up in the draft to select a quarterback and bets their future on him, the hype surrounding him is unimaginable. Second overall will always have ridiculous expectations on them and to say Trubisky has met them, even in the most optimistic terms, is a bit of a stretch.
Did he have necessarily a bad season? No, not by any means, especially considering Fox and company trapped him in a system heavily dependant on the run and seldom used him outside of the occasional bootleg or third-and-23 desperate bomb. However He already boasts beautiful mechanics and a level of professionalism rare of a rookie in the NFL. His legs and scrambling ability simply add to his already dynamic talents.
The inexperience as a starter stemming from his thirteen game ledger in college clearly hurt in a lot of places this year (I.E game-sealing interception against the Saints) and the NFL level decision making is still a work in progress (I.E game-sealing interception against the Vikings) but under the right coaching and gameplan, he could absolutely explode a la Jared Goff or Carson Wentz in the coming seasons.
Shaheen’s season is the definition of inconsistency. Up until Week 10, he racked up a grand total of one whole catch, stubbornly banished to the bench. Rarely seeing the field due to his weaker run blocking on a team dependent on the run, the only reason he saw the field at all was Zach Miller’s season-ending knee injury. Though, once he cracked the starting lineup, he impressed well, pulling in 125 yards and two scores over the final five games of his season (I say “his season” because he wasn’t able to make it out of the season uninjured, missing the last three contests).
With a new head coach on the way and a new system right along with it, Shaheen could really start to develop as a dominant pass-catcher. When he did play, he flashed his athleticism and found a sizable role in the red zone offense, something the Bears sorely missed without him this season. To chalk this season up as a failure would be ignoring the astronomical upside he flashed but as expected from a rookie tight end from below the FBS level, there are still plenty of mishaps. But under the right system, all the potential in the world is there for an elite tight end.
Tarik Cohen: B-
On a team devoid of stars and general excitement as a whole, he quickly became one of the city’s favorite players for his electrifying running style and general glee of watching someone so small on the field. There’s a certain delight that comes with watching a man the size of a high schooler run through giants.
Nobody really knew what to expect out of a five foot six inch running back from North Carolina A&T. An odd selection from Pace no doubt, some saw him as a return specialist, others envisioned him in a limited offensive role with some big-play potential, but nobody ever imagined he would be able to be this pivotal to the offense.
He put up solid numbers (370 rush yards, 373 receiving yards, four total scores and a punt return touchdown) and kept things fresh on offense all year long. Paired with Pro Bowler Jordan Howard creates one of the most versatile run games in the league. After an offseason of coaching changes who hopefully will be able to use him properly and maybe some quality advice to hit the hole instead of going in circles, Cohen could bloom into one of the most entertaining players in the entire league.
Jordan Morgan: F
Even through injuries shot through the offensive line all season, Morgan didn’t play a single snap after winding up on the IR early in the season. He struggled mightily in the preseason but still boasts major upside if he can put on a little more muscle. This season, however, started and ended on a sour note for the fifth round selection out of Kutztown.
By Eduardo Monk Jr.