The Bears raised hopes coming off an NFC North in Matt Nagy’s first season as coach, but they’ve already crashed.
It was clear from the first month this wasn’t going as expected, despite them pulling out some early wins, and they plummeted in October. Now, with the defense still one of the NFL’s best and the offense a wreck, they’re 3-5 and a long shot for a return trip to the playoffs.
As they start the second half of the season Sunday against the Lions, Sun-Times beat writer Jason Lieser breaks down how they got here:
Matt Nagy’s grade halfway through the season is:
D.Nagy was hired to do two main things: Develop a quarterback and give the Bears a top-10 offense — two rarities in Chicago over the last several decades. While they made progress last season, he is now presiding over the league’s fourth-worst offense, and Mitch Trubisky has regressed across the board.
What should they do at quarterback, now and in the future?
Chase Daniel should play Sunday. He won’t, as Trubisky continues to get unearned job security. Beyond this season, the Bears must pay up for a stopgap quarterback — Teddy Bridgewater sounds good — and draft one in the first round in 2021.
The Bears’ best position group:
Their secondary. This crew is tremendous, and any team in the league would be thrilled to be this good. Eddie Jackson makes a case for being the best safety in the NFL, and his partner Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is having a bounce-back season. Kyle Fuller has been one of the team’s best players this season, Prince Amukamara is dependable and Buster Skrine has been a good pickup underneath.
The Bears’ worst position group:
Quarterback. Not only for the poor play of Trubisky (his 80 passer rating ranks 29th, behind multiple quarterbacks who have already been demoted), but for general manager Ryan Pace’s poor planning. It’s inexcusable that they don’t have any young talent in reserve. At the bare minimum, they should have a developmental quarterback on the practice squad instead of 27-year-old Tyler Bray.
Khalil Mack has been:
Squandered. The Bears, primarily because of their offense incompetence, are wasting a prime year of a generational talent. He’ll be 29 at the start of next season.
How the Bears can pull out of their spiral:
Manufacture a ground game. The Bears are bottom-six in rushing yards per game (80.5) and per carry (3.6), and they certainly aren’t going to throw their way into the playoffs. In half their games, by the way, their leading rusher has been at 40 yards or fewer. But if they fix the offensive line, they have good runners in David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen.
The Bears’ final record:
6-10. They’ll keep fighting because they have no first-round pick this year and no incentive to tank, but they might go winless against their December schedule.