It won't happen until training camp—which is expected to begin sometime in late July—but Danny Trevathan can't wait to see the Bears' 2020 defense on the field together for the first time.
"We're going to be monsters," the veteran linebacker predicted last week on a video conference with the media. "There's no doubt in my mind."
Trevathan's expectations and excitement level are sky high due in part to the addition of veteran free-agent outside linebacker Robert Quinn. The two-time Pro Bowler has recorded 80.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons with the Rams (2011-17), Dolphins (2018) and Cowboys (2019).
"I watched Quinn from afar," Trevathan said. "I know that he's been doing it for a while. He knows what he's doing. He's a wrecking machine."
Quinn will line up opposite another wrecking machine in fellow outside linebacker Khalil Mack on a unit that also includes tackle Akiem Hicks, inside linebackers Trevathan and Roquan Smith, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.
"Now you've got to watch this side, you've got to watch this side," Trevathan said, gesturing to his left and right. "You've got to watch the middle. You've got to watch the back end. The front seven is going to be dangerous."
Playing 14 games last season, Quinn led the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks. According to Next Gen Stats, he generated pressure on 14.0 percent of his pass rushes, second in the NFL behind only the Packers' Za'Darius Smith (14.6).
"For us, we just see a really smart, high-energy football player that does a really good job of getting after the quarterback," said coach Matt Nagy.
Criteria for quarterback competition: It's been known since early April that the Bears will hold an open competition for their starting quarterback position between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.
Nagy recently shared some insight about the criteria that will determine the winner of the battle, which will kick off in training camp and continue into the preseason.
"To me, you can sense it, you feel it, the efficiency, the productivity within the special situations that you have," Nagy said. "Is it base first or second down? Are you making the correct adjustments at the line of scrimmage to pick up a blitz? How accurate are you on specific throws? Are you playing smart in the red zone?
"What's your mentality? What's your communication like at the line of scrimmage with the wide receivers when you're going two-minute, no huddle? And then how are you handling the coaching?"
The next part, which Nagy describes as the most challenging due to OTAs and minicamp being cancelled due to the coronavirus, is showing consistent improvement and rebounding from adversity.
"There's going to be a bad day," Nagy said. "Shoot, everybody has bad days. But do you respond to that, or are there three bad days in a row whereas somebody else has three good days in a row? So that's how you'll do that.
"Preseason games, reps, playing more, creating more reps, having the ability to have both those quarterbacks play with the same wide receivers and tight ends against the same defenses, that's going to be important. I do believe it'll naturally happen. I feel good with that. We have a good plan. And they understand it."
Bears need to be tougher in 2020: Nagy has said that starters will play more in the preseason this year than they have in his first two seasons as coach. The Bears obviously want to see how Trubisky and Foles perform alongside first-teamers, but that's not the only reason.
During a recent appearance on the Golic and Wingo show on ESPN Radio, Nagy candidly explained that the decision has more to do with developing a physical and mental toughness he felt the Bears lacked last season.
"The very first thing I did when the season ended is I went back and said, 'If I could change something or if I could do something different starting with myself, what would it be?'" Nagy said. "And that's right away what my mind went to.
"And you know what it was? The word toughness is what hit my brain right away. I didn't think collectively all of us—I'm not saying just players; I'm saying coaches too, everybody—I don't feel that we were as tough as we were in 2018. That doesn't always mean just physically, but mentally too.
"Well, when you don't play your guys in the preseason—and there were reasons behind that—but when you don't play them, to me you just don't have that same mentality in training camp. Your guys aren't getting those reps in the preseason. And I just reflected on that. I was upset that I did that, and again, that's where I start, with that right there. So our guys have been told loud and clear that they're coming in—whenever this does start in training camp—this is going to be a physically demanding training camp. And it's going to be mentally challenging.
"People talk about it, but this is something that we're going to do. As long as our players know that going into it and they're training hard right now and we're smart about it, then I think that's going to make us a lot better team in 2020 just from the start right there."