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7 big questions about the Bears after their 4-1 start

Is this a playoff team? Will Nick Foles start the rest of the games? Who is the biggest surprise/disappointment?

Hicks is tied with Khalil Mack for the team lead with 3.5 sacks.
AP Photos

With the Bears on somewhat of a break thanks to playing on Thursday last week and the next game being Oct. 18 at the Panthers, it’s time to assess where they’re headed. As they continue a rocky transition to Nick Foles at quarterback and coach Matt Nagy’s offense flounders, here’s a look at where they stand and what to expect the rest of the season:

The Bears’ quarterback situation is …
Regrettable. There were so many better options than trading a fourth-round pick for Nick Foles, and the way Nagy and his staff handled their preseason competition was a mistake. How does a team go from being certain that Mitch Trubisky is the right choice to three weeks later being even more certain that it’s Foles? The Bears misplayed their choices in the offseason and misjudged the competition.

Will Nick Foles start the rest of their games?
No. At some point this season, whether it’s because of injury or ineffectiveness, Trubisky will get another shot. Foles has never started more than 11 games in a season. The question is whether Trubisky can do anything other than what everyone has already seen for four seasons.

The biggest surprise of the Bears’ season has been …
Jimmy Graham still has something left. It’s hard to imagine him ever putting up 100 yards or being a consistent weapon at this stage, so he’s still a step down from his prime, but he’s not washed up. He’s been very good in the red zone (39% of the Bears’ passes inside the 10-yard line have been to him) and has already been productive enough to prove he’s a substantial upgrade over what the Bears had last season.

The biggest disappointment …
Tarik Cohen’s season-ending torn ACL. With Cohen rededicating himself and Nagy digging in harder than ever to find the best options in his playbook, it looked like Cohen was headed toward a resurgent season. And the Bears’ problem is they simply don’t have another player like him.

Matt Nagy must …
Use the right players. Here’s who can make plays: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Graham, Cordarrelle Patterson and David Montgomery. He needs to not only play those guys more snaps, but get them the ball more frequently. How is it possible that Montgomery is averaging just 12.6 carries per game and Mooney just five targets? It’s Nagy’s job to get better use of them.

Their MVP thus far is …
Akiem Hicks. His return from a dislocated elbow had made an enormous difference for the Bears in their pass rush, and they need him more than ever against the run with Eddie Goldman not playing this season. In his 10th season, after 119 games at one of the most demanding positions in the game, he has played 77% of the snaps, is tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks and has 21 tackles. Hicks is back.

Are the Bears a playoff team?
Absolutely. It would take an epic meltdown to go from 4-1 to missing the playoffs, especially when seven teams will make it in each conference this season, and the Bears’ defense alone is too good to let that happen. I’m upgrading my original 8-8 prediction to 10-6.