Sun-Times expert Patrick Finley breaks down the most important aspects of the Bears’ 2018 season and looks at what’s ahead:
Matt Nagy’s first season was … :
Fun. He went 12-4 in the regular season and changed the culture of a franchise that seemed lost for so long. He threw postgame dance parties — and passes to backup tackles. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah: that playoff game. A wild card round loss notwithstanding, Nagy could the NFL Coach of the Year.
What I liked about Mitch Trubisky’s season:
The fourth quarter of the most important game of his life. In the final 15 minutes against the Eagles, he completed 6-of-10 passes for 115 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 137.5. Had Cody Parkey made his field goal, Trubisky’s final drive would have been the story of the game — if not the season.
What I didn’t like about Trubisky’s season:
The first three quarters of the most important game of his life. Through 25 minutes, he completed 20-of-33 passes for 188 yards, no scores and a 76.33 passer rating. He had one interception overturned by replay, and other potential picks dropped. He has a lot of room to grow.
Losing Vic Fangio will … :
Sting. In building the Bears from the ground up, Fangio developed players individually and the unit as a whole. And his players loved him.
• Adam L. Jahns: Analyzing Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and the 2018 Bears season
• Mark Potash: Analyzing Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and the 2018 Bears season
My 2018 Bears MVP is … :
Khalil Mack. His acquisition changed the trajectory of the franchise. Then he did one of the most difficult things in sports: he lived up to the hype. He missed two games and was hampered in two more, and still finished with 12 ½ sacks. That’s the most ever for a Bears player not named Richard Dent.
My underrated hero is … :
Akiem Hicks is overlooked only when compared to his defensive cohorts, three of whom — Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson — were named first-team Associated Press all-pros. Hicks thought he had a better season in 2017, but he dominated all year despite playing 228 more snaps than the next-busiest defensive lineman on the team.
As for Cody Parkey, I would …
Go find a new kicker. Parkey had the worst field-goal percentage of anyone with 30 or more tries. That was unacceptable even before he double-doinked Sunday’s potential game-winner. The Bears have to pay Parkey either way, so you could make an argument for him competing with another kicker in camp. But what established kicker would sign with the Bears to be one of two? A divorce is probably best for both Parkey and the Bears.
The biggest challenge next year will be … :
The first-place schedule. In addition to their NFC North slate, the Bears will host the Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, Cowboys and Giants. They’ll travel to the Rams, Eagles, Redskins, Raiders and Broncos. Last season proved that guessing which teams will be good is a fool’s errand. Still, at least in January, that’s one intimidating slate.