The Chicago Bears are expected to take a step forward in 2018 after drafting their quarterback of the future in 2017 and spending big in free agency this past offseason. With changes taking place on the roster taking place in Buffalo, fans could expect a similar two-year plan.
With the playoff drought monkey off the organization’s back, the Buffalo Bills can now build a team and develop their young talent without the pressures of making the postseason. While not experiencing the same absence from playoff football, the Chicago Bears have laid out a template for the Bills to follow as they have rebuilt their team in a two-year timeframe.
The changes began for the Bears in the 2017 NFL Draft as they moved up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. They then selected depth players and found an impact player like running back Tarik Cohen in the fourth round.
Chicago then signed quarterback Mike Glennon to serve as the team’s starter while Trubisky was expected to sit out several games to the whole season as he learned behind a veteran. However, due to the team’s poor play and record, the team inserted Trubisky as the starter for the final 12 games where they went 4-8 and he finished with seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and 2,193 yards.
Comparing that to the Bills most recent draft this April, the team moved up in the draft from No. 12 to No. 7 to select their quarterback of the future in Josh Allen out of Wyoming. The comparison between the two quarterbacks is that many considered it a reach where each were selected and while neither had extended success in college due to consistency or playing time, they each had potential. The team also has potential impact players that they drafted later such as Siran Neal, Wyatt Teller and Taron Johnson.
While he is currently third on the depth chart, no one would be surprised to see Allen take over the reigns as the team’s starter at some point this season. Veteran AJ McCarron was brought in to be the starter, while Nathan Peterman may earn that job instead. Either way, Allen is not expected to be the starter immediately.
Outside of the quarterback position itself, both teams are very similar in their lackluster offensive weapons. Trubisky had starting receivers Kevin White and Cameron Meredith miss the season along with starting tight end Zach Miller due to major injuries. Running back Jordan Howard was relied upon immensely and Cohen carved out a nice role for himself as the season went on.
Right now, Buffalo has possibly the weakest receiving corps in the league. Kelvin Benjamin is a fringe number one receiver – if he can stay healthy. Zay Jones was a high pick in 2017, but he needs to recover from an inconsistent rookie campaign (although it wasn’t completely his fault). Charles Clay is a solid option at tight end but the offense will primarily run through LeSean McCoy. If the offense plays poorly with McCarron or Peterman, we could see Allen step in rather quickly.
Perhaps the biggest changes to the offense could come next offseason for the Bills. Comparing it to the Chicago plan, they went out and signed a number one receiver in Allen Robinson, signed the top free agent tight end in Trey Burton and signed speed receiver Taylor Gabriel. The team also added wide receiver Anthony Miller in the draft to completely overhaul their receiving corps making it younger, faster and much better.
The Bears also upgraded at linebacker and offensive line as they drafted center James Daniels in the second round and they spent their No. 8 overall pick on stud linebacker Roquan Smith.
This is a model that the Bills could certainly follow in the 2019 offseason. Not many would be surprised if the team finished with a top-10 pick next season, allowing them to take an elite talent at the top of the draft. With several promising receiving prospects in the draft, including UB’s Anthony Johnson, they could immediately upgrade the position with help for Allen.
As of right now, the team will have just south of $68 million in cap space to work with next season. They could easily spend big in free agency on wide receiver (Stefon Diggs, Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant and Golden Tate will all be free agents) and/or offensive line. Like Chicago this past offseason, the Bills will have plenty of money to spend and can quickly overhaul several positions.
Chicago could certainly take a step forward this season with a revamped offense and impact players on defense. Depending on when/if Allen plays this season, it is easy to imagine the Bills doing the same.
Buffalo is well set up on defense with arguably the best safety tandem in the league, budding star Tre’Davious White, first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds and an improved defensive line. This year will be one in which the team is expected to continue to grow and younger players will continue develop. However, based off of the Bears two-year model, 2019 is where we should expect the Bills to take the next step.