Bears have bigger issues than Mitch Trubisky that need answers vs. Bills

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The Chicago Bears will welcome Mitch Trubisky and the Buffalo Bills to Soldier Field in Saturday’s second preseason game of the summer, and while Trubisky’s return will steal the initial headlines, there are more important issues Bears fans should be paying attention to.

Most notably is the current situation at offensive tackle. Rookie Teven Jenkins’ back surgery has him shelved for at least the first part of the 2021 season, and while veteran Jason Peters brings All-Pro experience to Chicago’s roster, he’s 39 years old and a shell of his former self.

Peters will be a starter, and even at 60% of what he was, he’ll be fine…as in, he’ll be Charles Leno or Bobby Massie fine. But at his advanced age and with the risk that his wheels completely fall off this year, the Bears need quality options behind him.

That leaves names like Larry Borom, Elijah Wilkinson, Lachavious Simmons, and Arlington Hambright to prove not only that they belong on the Bears’ active roster, but that they’re capable of starting at either tackle position — remember, Germain Ifedi is still out with a hip injury.

It isn’t a fun or sexy ‘thing to watch’ in a preseason game, but if the Bears’ offensive tackle position goes sideways in 2021, the entire offense will fail to reach even a competent level.

Chicago has a deep roster battle going at wide receiver, too. The top of the depth chart is set with Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd locked into the final 53-man squad. The Bears will keep, at most, six wideouts on the final roster, leaving players like Dazz Newsome, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims, and Rodney Adams to fight and claw for (maybe) two spots.

I’m a fan of Adams’ game and think he has an edge over the other guys in that bucket of WR5/6. He had the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade of all Bears offensive players against the Dolphins and seems to have a nice chemistry building with Justin Fields.

But the draft capital spent on Ridley (fourth round in 2019) and Newsome (sixth round in 2021) can’t be overlooked. If the end-of-camp evaluations are close, the tie will go to the draft pick(s).

We also have an interesting storyline brewing at inside linebacker, where Alec Ogletree has incumbent starter Danny Trevathan against the ropes. In fact, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs said Friday that Trevathan could be a surprise cut at the end of camp; this wouldn’t be in any range of outcomes if it wasn’t for Ogletree’s impact plays in practice and against the Dolphins.

Then there’s cornerback, where the starting position opposite Jaylon Johnson remains unsettled. Kindle Vildor has the inside track over veteran Desmond Trufant, but I expect that battle to heat up as the weeks march on, assuming Trufant can get (and remain) healthy.

Finally, we have the whole quarterback situation. Andy Dalton remains the starter despite Fields’ incredible debut last week, and while most fans are clamoring for the Fields era to begin, it makes sense that coach Matt Nagy is waiting for at least one — maybe two — more preseason games before giving in to the inevitable.

Dalton has a chance to hold Fields off for a few more weeks and into the regular season if he makes a strong statement against the Bills. If he leads Chicago’s offense on a few scoring drives in the first half, he’ll maintain his veteran lead over Fields for Week 1.

Bears fans should be excited if Dalton thrives under that kind of pressure. It’s as close to real-time game pressure that a player can experience in an exhibition contest. His individual performance has as much — if not more — pressure than any quarterback in the league entering preseason Week 2, so if he rises to the occasion, it’s a good sign that he is, in fact, ready to lead the Bears (at least early on) in 2021.

Trubisky’s trot onto Solider Field and the crowd’s reaction is going to go viral on Twitter. Fans will argue with each other on their timelines about who’s to blame for his failures in Chicago. But at the end of the day, none of that matters. The 2021 Bears have pressing issues that need to be resolved, in part, against the Bills.

None of which have anything to do with Trubisky.

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Position battles to watch heading into Bears' preseason game vs. Bills

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