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Bears 5-game review: Is this a playoff team?

Despite a 4-1 start, the Bears still have a lot of unanswered questions. Is Nick Foles the answer? Is Nick Foles the question? The biggest surprise/disappointment. And who is this team’s MVP?

Bears quarterback Nick Foles has an 83.9 passer rating in three games since replacing Mitch Trubisky — he’s completed 72-of-113 passes for 680 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Bears quarterback Nick Foles has an 83.9 passer rating in three games since replacing Mitch Trubisky — he’s completed 72-of-113 passes for 680 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the Bears on a mini-bye after 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 transition to Nick Foles at quarterback with Matt Nagy’s offense still a work-in-progress, here’s a look at where they stand and what to expect the rest of the season:

The Bears’ quarterback situation is …

Better than it was, but not yet solved. Nick Foles is a better decision-maker than Mitch Trubisky, gets the offense in the right play more than Trubisky, finds the open man at the end of an extended play much more often than Trubisky and is more likely to make plays against good defenses than Trubisky. But he’s still a product of the offense he’s in, and if the offensive line and others don’t grow, he will struggle to make things happen.

Will Nick Foles start the rest of their games?

His history says no. Foles has never started more than nine consecutive games in his nine-year NFL career. So Trubisky better keep that right arm warm.

The biggest surprise of the Bears’ season has been …

Rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney, a fifth-round draft pick, is getting more snaps (188) than 2018 second-round pick Anthony Miller (169). Mooney has 15 receptions on 25 targets for 160 yards (10.7 avg.) and a touchdown.

The biggest disappointment ….

Wide receiver Anthony Miller, whom the Bears traded into the second round in 2018 to acquire, is getting fewer snaps (169) than rookie Darnell Mooney, a fifth-round draft pick. Miller has 13 receptions on 23 targets for 161 yards (12.4 avg.) and two touchdowns.

Matt Nagy must …

Be as tough on himself as he has recently been on Trubisky and the offense. After two-plus seasons of publicly defending/babying his quarterback and his offense, Nagy benched Trubisky after an interception against the Falcons and castigated the offense after the Bears’ biggest victory over the season — that’s progress for the young head coach. Now he has to put himself in the line of fire. If his play-calling doesn’t improve — or if Nick Foles can’t make a play-caller out of him — Nagy might want to consider handing off those duties to someone else.

Their MVP thus far is ….

Defensive end Akiem Hicks. Foles has made a difference, but it’s hard to pick an offensive player as the MVP until the Bears start consistently scoring more than 20 points in a game. In the last three seasons, the Bears are 18-6 in the regular season when Hicks is healthy and 5-7 when he is not. He continues to make an impact on virtually every snap and still is underrated league-wise as an interior pass rusher.

Are the Bears a playoff team?

In the 2020 NFL they are, if the Bears can avoid significant injuries. With Foles at quarterback and a top-10 defense, Bears are at the top end of a huge bubble of mediocrity in the NFL. As was the case in 2012, when the Bears started 7-1 and missed the playoffs, this team has to fare better against the better teams on its schedule. That’s very possible in this year’s NFL. They’re currently pegged to finish 10-6, but behind the Packers in the NFC North.