MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears took the field Sunday without a single first-round draft pick, and finished the game with their fourth quarterback of the season under center.
In between, they performed predictably, losing 38-10 to a divisional rival to cap the worst season in modern franchise history.
The Bears’ 3-13 record — their worst since the schedule expanded to 16 games 1978 — guarantees them third pick in the NFL draft and a place in franchise ignominy.
Alongside it: an 0-8 road record that ranks as the worst in Bears history in a season in which they tied the NFL record with only 11 takeaways.
All of the above is a recipe for sweeping change, though, in the name of continuity, both John Fox and GM Ryan Pace seem safe.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” the Bears coach said. “I’ve never worried about job security. I’m not going to start now.”
Fox has denied a rift with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for a month, and said Sunday the record “was not easy for anybody” on his staff. That includes his players — who voiced their support for Fox.
“Everybody wants to absorb things from a winner like Coach Fox,” cornerback Tracy Porter said.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said the Bears “absolutely” believe what Fox is preaching.
“Every guy is buying into the message,” he said.
Sunday’s loss, though, further napalmed the notion of the Bears as gutty little losers. It took only 3:24 for them to fall behind Sunday, when Sam Bradford threw his first of three touchdown passes.
The Bears have been outscored 79-31 in their last two games. They’ve been in a scoreless tie for 10:41 of those games — and trailed for the remaining 109:19. When Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught a 22-yard touchdown, the Bears fell behind 17-0 about 17 minutes into the game.
Former Vikings coach Bud Grant put it best during an in-game interview Sunday, though: “The key to coaching is to have the best players.”
The road to 3-13 was paved with injuries — 19 players finished the season on injured reserve and two more, outside linebackers Pernell McPhee (shoulder) and Leonard Floyd (concussion) sat Sunday after combining to play only 21 games. Still, Fox said that he feels better about the Bears’ depth at “this time this year, than I did this time last year.”
Quarterback Matt Barkley, who caught the Bears’ only touchdown on a trick play, said Fox believes in his players, and vice versa.
“I love his positivity and the way he runs the ship,” he said. “He wants us to be great and we want to give that to him.”
The path seems murkier than ever. The other three NFC North teams have made the playoffs in the last two seasons.
The Bears, though, believe Fox has them pointed in the right direction.
“I look at what he did everywhere he’s been for 27 years of coaching,” outside linebacker Sam Acho said. “I see the success.”