Chicago Bears: Can Trey Burton be counted on to deliver?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears enter the 2019 season with high expectations…can Trey Burton be counted on to stay healthy and deliver when it matters most?

The 2019 NFL season is just a few months away and given last year’s performance, the Chicago Bears have entered the conversation as one of the teams with a realistic chance of competing for the Vince Lombardi trophy.  Kicker jokes aside, the Bears enter the season with arguably the league’s best defense, led by All Pro linebacker Khalil Mack, and an offense that played well under the tutelage of reigning NFL Coach of the Year, Matt Nagy.

Like all teams in the NFL, the Bears enter the season with strengths and weaknesses.  One position viewed as a strength heading is the Tight End position. This is due in large part to the presence of Trey Burton, who signed with the Bears last off-season after a Super Bowl run with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017.

Bears fans were downright giddy at all the possibilities and offensive mismatches that Burton was sure to create given his versatility and athleticism.  The Bears faithful had already begun to imagine a Chicago version of the ‘Philly Special’, with Burton throwing touchdown passes to Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is far more athletically gifted than former Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles.

For all the hope and expectations, the former Florida Gator had mixed results in 2018.  Don’t get me wrong, Burton was definitely an upgrade at the position.  He played in all 16 regular season games and had 55 catches for 569 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t bad given the fact that he had to learn a new offense and build chemistry with the still developing Trubisky.

More importantly, opposing teams had to respect Burton’s versatility and his ability to create mismatches and stretch the field.  Running back Tarik Cohen was often a benefactor of these mismatches. It isn’t lost on fans (and we hope Coach Nagy) that the Bears offense seemed to click whenever Burton was on the field.  This was evident during his absence in the playoffs.

The Bears posted a 12-4 record in the regular season and got the opportunity to play the defending champion Eagles at Soldier Field in the Wild Card round.  What should have been a very winnable game against a team that looked like a former shell of itself, turned into a disaster.  The Bears offense could not stay on the field, putting a major load on the defense, who eventually wore out toward the end of the game.

How did Bears tight ends fare? Five catches for 28 yards and zero touchdowns.  Where was Trey Burton? Burton ended up sitting the game out with a  groin injury, after he had practiced with no limitations the entire week leading up to the playoff match.  I’m not going to question his motives, however, it was downright head scratching at the time.  He’s since had surgery to correct the groin injury.

The bottom line is that a healthy Burton has a knack for getting open and making big plays, especially in the postseason.  The Bears could have used him against the Eagles and I’m convinced that were he in the game, it would not have had to come down to a game winning field goal attempt.  We all know how that turned out.

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Here’s hoping that Burton is fully healthy for the 2019 season and that he helps Bears fans forget what could have been in 2018.  The expectations going into this season are monumental and I don’t see the Bears going very deep into the playoffs without No. 80 playing a significant role.