By Steve Simmons / ESPN Cri_Bears ReporterBy Steve Simmons/ESPN StaffThe Bears’ 2016 NFL Draft class is a dark and gritty one.
This year, the Bears are a dark, gritty group, too.
And the Bears, in many ways, have made the most of their situation.
For one, they’re the team that drafted the highest-ranked quarterback in the history of the franchise, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
They have a lot of talent.
But with a very good offensive line and a lot more experience on defense, they have to play a lot better than they did last year.
The Bears are the second-youngest team in the NFL.
They also have the third-youngstest head coach, Marc Trestman, who has built a reputation as a tough, competitive coach.
Trestman also had to deal with a number of injuries in the spring and fall, and it will be interesting to see how this season goes.
Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and linebacker Jayrone Elliott suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Week 5.
Tillman is not afraid to play his young guys.
And with a talented offensive line, he’s going to have to make the most out of them.
And he did that this spring by using his rookies to build a much-improved front seven and a much better rushing attack.
The first-team defense is strong.
The defense has six first-round picks, including two who are rookies.
Safety Don Jones is a first-year player.
Defensive end Akiema Walker has shown enough to earn a starting spot.
Safety Jayron Kearse is the team’s most athletic player.
And linebacker Anthony Barr has the potential to be a first rounder.
The secondary has three first-rounder defensive backs in Charles Tillman, Rahim Moore and Kaleb Ramsey.
And they have some first- and second-round talents, too: cornerback Chris Conte and safety Jamal Adams.
The secondary was arguably the biggest question mark entering this season.
The Bears signed three top cornerbacks in cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Deon Bush, but they also signed safety Eddie Jackson, safety Quandre Diggs and linebacker Anthony Chickillo.
The defensive backs have been among the best at their positions in the past.
But the front seven has struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, and the Bears’ other starting cornerbacks have not been able to produce the numbers the team needed in 2017.
In many ways this year, Trestmann and the front office have done a good job with the draft.
Trestmans picks have been good.
He has a lot in the tank.
And a lot is on the line for the Bears.
They’re not exactly in a position to win games right now, but this team has a chance to win right now.
If the Bears can win the NFC North, they could win a Super Bowl in a few years.
And if the Bears win it all, they would be the favorite to win a title in the NFC South.
The NFC North is a huge division.
It’s the one with the best chances of making it into the playoffs, and a strong finish in the division could get the Bears to the postseason.
But it’s also one that has some big questions heading into the season.
First-year head coach Marc Tressel’s first season was rough.
He had to replace two of his top defensive starters, cornerback Morris Clifton and linebacker Shaq Thompson.
Then he had to try to replace the best defensive lineman in the league, outside linebacker Danny Trevathan, who had a shoulder injury in the first game of the season that limited him to only three games.
The injury limited him as much as he could, and Tressels first season ended with the Bears having to replace their entire defensive line.
In the first few games of Trests second season, the team was able to play well.
And it’s not like the Bears were struggling against a weaker opponent than they faced in 2017, either.
In the last five games, they’ve won all five.
But the Bears have struggled on the road this year.
They’ve played just one game on the first day of the road trip since they visited the Saints last season.
That was against the Panthers.
And when the Bears traveled to Carolina, they lost, 28-7.
The next week against the Vikings, the Packers and Cowboys were on the same field and they won.
In Week 5, the first half of the Bears season ended in a game they lost 23-16.
In a way, this was a blessing in disguise.
The team was already struggling on the football field.
But if they could go win a few games at home, the pressure would be off.
In fact, the road schedule in the last couple of years was even tougher than the first couple.