Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears’ highs, lows and what it means for new coach

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When the Bears lost to the Packers and Brett Hundley coming out of the bye week on No. 12, it was all she wrote for coach John Fox. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Sun-Times Bears beat reporter Mark Potash dissects the 2017 season and how the Bears are positioned moving forward.

Coach John Fox was done when …

The Bears lost to the Packers and Brett Hundley at Soldier Field coming off their bye week. Despite the injuries, the roster issues on offense and starting a rookie quarterback, any well-coached team would have won that game. It exposed a lack of preparedness and Fox’s inability to do what he generally does best — get the most out of what he has to work with.

General manager Ryan Pace deserves …

The opportunity to get the quarterback right and find the right coach at the right time. The quarterback is everything in the NFL, and after inheriting Jay Cutler and his difficult contract, Pace deserves the chance to find his Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees — a player who covers up those free-agency/draft mistakes and makes a bad game-management coach look like a genius.

Mitch Trubisky proved that …

He has the makings of a franchise quarterback. Trubisky showed he has the accuracy, escapability, mobility and moxie to become a difference-maker. Though the results this season were modest at best, he looks like he can grow into the job.

My 2017 MVP is …

Defensive end Akiem Hicks set a tone early when he responded to a contract extension by playing the best football of his career. He made an impact on almost every play and was a big reason why a developing defense that lost five starters to injuries/suspension finished 10th in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

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My biggest disappointment was …

The Bears’ inability to stay healthy. It’s an issue they stressed last offseason and saw virtually no progress, which is a little disturbing. Unlike free-agency and drafting issues, you can’t solve this problem with money or a high draft pick. Maybe a new coach and a new practice regimen will make a difference.

I’m optimistic about 2018 because …

The Bears have a quarterback they can grow with in Trubisky and enough foundation pieces to complement a difference-making quarterback (Jordan Howard, Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair, Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman, Eddie Jackson and Hicks among them).

I’m pessimistic about 2018 because …

There are too many unknowns and not enough established commodities. Trubisky is a good prospect, but he’s still a project. Long is coming off surgery. Josh Sitton is banged up. Floyd can’t stay healthy. Fuller is a free agent. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s likely departure might be a bigger loss than the Bears think.

The next coach must …

Be able to answer the bleepin’ question. Unless you have the roster Mike Ditka had, it’s pretty tough to fight the media and the public in this town and win.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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