Before the season started, a number of our writers took on the challenge of creating bold predictions for the season. We wanted to challenge ourselves to go out on a limb and guess how the season could unfold. This can prove to be nearly impossible. Who knows when injuries will strike, and which players will get a shot or not. Nevertheless, it’s a fun exercise as now I get to look back at the terrible predictions I threw out in August. Like I did before the season, I’ll again run through each one, talk about what did or didn’t happen, and discuss how next season looks. Let’s dive right in.
Number 1: Curtis Samuel finishes as a top-15 WR
Actual finish: 36th, 54 rec, 627 yds, 6 TD | 19 car, 130 yds, 1 TD
For this one, a few factors came into play. I still like what I’m seeing from Curtis Samuel. He is someone I’ll likely double down on next year, despite the sparse options for Carolina at quarterback heading into next season. Why is that? Samuel accomplished all this on the 20th-ranked passing offense. Even still, he saw 5+ targets in 12 of his 16 games played last season–they wanted to get him involved. This was his first 100-target season, and I expect the improvement to continue into next year. I still trust Samuel as a route-runner, and I still love his explosiveness as a ball carrier. He just needs some more opportunities. This brings me to my next reason for optimism: Christian McCaffrey can’t keep doing what he just did, right? There have been only three 1000-1000 seasons (1000 yards of both rushing and receiving) in NFL history, so I have to imagine this likely doesn’t repeat. I also think the Carolina offense is unlikely to be successful if they continue to force-feed McCaffrey in this way. He accounted for more than 40% of the team’s offense–a monumental percent. Depending on the price next season, I’ll buy back in on Samuel as a cheap investment. He still seems ready to pay off in a big way.
Number 2: Darwin Thompson steals the Chiefs starting RB job and averages RB1 numbers
Darwin Thompson never really had a chance this year. I’m not saying he would have crushed it–the undersized back may not have ever shown enough to the coaches to prove he deserved a shot. Still, this one seemed like a nice lottery ticket ‘just in case’. Thompson looked fast during the preseason and was going in the top-8 rounds at one point. Add in the potency of the Chiefs offense, and this looked like a home run. Thompson remained buried all year, however, behind LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, and Spencer Ware. Clearly, Darwin Thompson wasn’t the sure thing we all thought he was. If he was, the Chiefs wouldn’t have gone so far out of their way to NOT use him. I’m still curious how Thompson would handle a workhorse role, but I fear he may never get the chance. With his size, he may be typecast as the Tarik Cohen type–a change of pace back to be used mostly as a gimmick. I don’t expect to be drafting Thompson next season.
Number 3: Allen Robinson finishes 2019 with 1000 yds, 10 TDs, and a top-10 finish at WR
Status: 98 rec, 1147 yds, 7 TD | WR7 finish
I liked Allen Robinson heading into 2019 for a few reasons: he flashed his talent before in Jacksonville and I figured he could likely do it again. He also didn’t have a lot of competition heading into the year from the other Bears’ receiving weapons: Anthony Miller, Trey Burton, and Tarik Cohen. Robinson proved to be the focal point of the Bears offense in 2019, seeing 5+ targets in every single game along with seven games of 10+ targets. Robinson didn’t just capitalize on volume though; he played the position well and was a true weapon at wide receiver. He could have flown higher if not for the struggles of the Bears’ offense, and I think he would have been even better on a marquee offense–Kansas City or New Orleans for example. The Bears pass-catchers look to remain mostly unchanged, so I’ll keep betting on Robinson next year with hopes that Mitch Trubisky can improve. Even if Trubisky stays the same, 98 receptions and 1100 yards is nothing to sneeze at.
Number 4: David Johnson finishes RB1 with 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards
These were supposed to be bold, right? It’s hard to remember at this point that David Johnson was a consensus top-10 pick in the draft. He was also–for some–considered a legitimate challenger to the big four of Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara. I was one of those people. I espoused how great drafting fifth was last year…you get one of the ‘five’ stud running backs at the lowest price possible. What a steal. So what happened? Johnson looked disinterested all year and soon found himself in injury purgatory. He never looked quite right, and it’s hard to say if it was more injury, declining talent, or lack of interest. Johnson will be a big red flag going into next season, and I might actually be drafting him again depending on how far he falls. Would you grab DJ in the fourth round if he fell that far and was still starting? I would. Johnson looks like he could be out of Arizona and maybe this is for the best. It feels like he could use a change of scenery. Here’s hoping for clearer skies ahead.
Number 5: Mitch Trubisky (ADP qb21) finishes as a top-5 QB
Status: 3138 yds, 17 TD, 10 INT | 198 rush yds, 2 TD | QB26
This last one was a bit of a wish for my team and their future. I knew Mitch Trubisky wasn’t great last year–even if the stats ended up okay. I knew he made a lot of bad passes and had trouble with the deep ball. With every young quarterback, though, you hope they can change. You hope they can grow and become something more. Sure, Mitch struggles at a few things. Drew Brees struggled early in his career though. So did Peyton Manning. Maybe Mitch can figure it out? With another year in the books, I am another year removed form such pipe dreams. Once again, Mitch struggled to find open receivers. He had trouble locating the best options and consistently hitting them. I can’t count the deep balls that harmlessly fell to the turf while a Bears receiver ran two steps ahead of their defender. This could have been a great season, but it was squashed by the quarterback. Sure, more blame deserves to go around: Coach Matt Nagy seems like he gave up at times on creative play calling. GM Ryan Pace regularly trades up for players who don’t seem worth the price paid. Trey Burton has been a disaster. It all comes back to Mitch though: if Mitch was better, Pace would look like a genius. Nagy would see more of his plays succeeding. The team might be in the playoffs right now. I will no longer preach the gospel of Mitch–that book is forever closed.
(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)