Sun-Times expert Patrick Finley breaks down the Bears’ biggest problems at the bye week:
Will quarterback Mitch Trubisky be better upon his return?
As a passer, yes— but that’s a low bar, given that he’s thrown for 31 fewer touchdowns this season than he did all last year. The better question when he returns from the left shoulder injury, perhaps against the Saints, is whether he’s willing to run —or the Bears want him to. His athleticism and scrambling ability was a great equalizer for him last year. If the threat goes away, Trubisky will be even easier to scheme for.
What is coach Matt Nagy’s biggest challenge?
Getting Trubisky right. The most direct path to the Bears establishing themselves as a power for the next five years is building Trubisky up into a consistently above-average quarterback. He’s not there yet. Among all players to throw at least 100 passes since the start of the 2017 season, Trubisky ranks 33rd in passer rating —and there are only 32 teams.
Can the defense keep this up?
Yep. They have for the last 21 regular-season games, and there’s no reason to think it stops now. The better question is: can the offense bail the defense out on the days it’s merely mortal? It didn’t in London.
What type of trade is worth a look before the Oct. 29 deadline?
The Bears aren’t built for a midseason move, as they’ve already traded 2020 picks as part of deals for Khalil Mack and running back David Montgomery. But they could use extra depth on both lines to help backfill after injuries.
How will the Bears do the next three games?
2-1. Coach Matt Nagy is 8-2 at Soldier Field in the regular season, and neither the Saints nor the Chargers is good enough to win in Chicago when the Bears’ defense is firing and the offense is above replacement level. The latter, amazingly, is the hard part. For all the Bears’ problems, they figure to be favored in their next two home games. They won’t be — and shouldn’t be —n Philly.
Who’s winning the NFC North?
The Packers. The Bears have to pray for a wild-card berth. That means scoreboard-watching, even in Week 6. They’d be wise to root for the Packers against the Lions on Monday night — I know, I know — and hope either the 49ers, Seahawks or Rams pull away from the pack to win the NFC West.
Is this a playoff team?
No. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears’ 29.8 percent chance of making the playoffs is the worst in the NFC North. But here’s the fascinating part about the Bears’ season: their defense is not only playoff-caliber, but capable of carrying a team to the Super Bowl. As long as the defense stays relatively healthy, it will give the Bears a chance to win every week – and should win some games on its own.