Unless everyone’s cool with another season or two of the Bears scoring 17 points and holding on for dear life to see if that’s enough, this offense needs a major overhaul.
It’s too late to fix it this season, although it’s odd that the Bears stood pat when potentially dynamic players were signed elsewhere.
An aside: Why are the Chiefs, Ravens, Buccaneers and others so confident in their culture that they’ll take just about anybody they think can help them win, but the ultra-cautious Bears wouldn’t dare?
Anyway, this offense needs more than just a couple tweaks. That’s what general manager Ryan Pace tried this year, and look where the Bears sit.
They’re 29th in scoring this season and 21st in coach Matt Nagy’s tenure. They’re 30th in yards per rush, 21st in team-passer rating and 26th in third-down conversions the last three seasons. Those are cumulative rankings over 41 games, including when things went relatively well for the Bears in 2018.
Nagy has made things worse by his unwillingness and/or inability to shape his scheme to maximize his personnel, but there’s only so much he’d be able to do with what Pace gave him.
They have glaring needs at quarterback and on the offensive line. Other than wide receiver Allen Robinson, who might leave in free agency, the best thing that can be said of their collection of skill players is that some of them have potential.
That’s the entire offense. It’s beyond repair, and there’s no question it needs to be demolished and completely redone — ideally before the window closes on a championship-caliber defense, but that might not be possible. That truth won’t change even if the Bears eke out enough wins to make the playoffs.
The best way to rebuild is always through the draft, and the Bears have five picks this spring (Pace traded their fourth- and seventh-round selections). In the last two drafts, they’ve had just three picks in the top 120. They’re currently slotted 16th in the first round, which would be too late for a top quarterback if they don’t trade up.
The mess on offense presents the immediate question of whether the Bears would entrust a rebuild to the man whose missteps brought them to this point.
Pace has been brilliant with the defense, but negated that good work by drafting Mitch Trubisky, giving questionable extensions on the offensive line and being hit-and-miss at best with skill players. He also hired Nagy, and his coach has spent the last month fending off questions about whether he should give up play calling.
Pace’s bad moves have outweighed his good ones for a net result of the Bears being 11 games under .500 in his six seasons. The 8-8 record last season was the Bears’ second-best under Pace.
His future hinges on chairman George McCaskey’s standards. If the organization is content with a mediocre team that could sneak into the playoffs at 10-6 or suffer some bad breaks and finish 6-10, then go ahead and let Pace keep tinkering. But if it aspires for something more, it’s long past time to move on.
Pace’s personnel moves on offense have gone so poorly that they’ve hindered the evaluation of Nagy. There’s a lot to like about him as a strategist and leader. If he’s compatible with the new general manager and gets the players he needs, Nagy’s offense could thrive. If that happens, the Bears will be glad they rode it out with him.
But that’s only if the new general manager sees it that way. The best teams give autonomy to the person running the football side of the organization, and it’s bad business to force a coach on an incoming general manager.
That’s the reality of where the Bears are, and the sooner they accept that, the sooner they can begin the monstrous task of fixing it.