The bye week gives the Bears their last chance to reset and gear up for one last charge at the playoffs. Plenty of people throughout the organization, including general manager Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy and several players, have a lot riding on how the Bears finish their season.
Here’s a look at six key questions facing them:
Should the Bears start Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky against the Packers?
It’s time to go back to Trubisky — not because he’s better, but because he’s more versatile. His running ability gives the Bears a valuable option to work around their struggling offensive line and pitiful running game. In 2018, his best season, Trubisky ran 68 times for 421 yards. If he can give the Bears 30 to 40 yards rushing per game, it would make a big difference for the worst ground game in the NFL.
Will offensive coordinator Bill Lazor call plays for the rest of the season?
Yes, but Nagy will return to the role next season. It would be too flaky for Nagy to take back play-calling in the final six games after publicly giving the duty to Lazor. He said Monday he will give Lazor at least the game against the Packers, giving him the full benefit of the bye week. Ultimately, however, it won’t matter much unless Lazor instantly can fix the Bears’ problems on the offensive line and at quarterback.
When will the Bears’ losing streak end?
They way they’ve looked lately, there’s a chance it could last until Week 16 at the Jaguars. It’s hard to see any game as an automatic victory for the Bears right now, but maybe they’ll slide past the Lions again after the game against the Packers.
Besides the quarterback, the Bears’ biggest problem is:
There’s no plan to fix the offense. There are very few players on offense the Bears should want to retain, so a full rebuild is necessary. But they’re locked into several players, including Foles, tight end Jimmy Graham and left tackle Charles Leno, because of ill-advised contracts. They don’t have enough draft capital or salary-cap space to revamp the offense fully going into 2021.
Under what circumstance would general manager Ryan Pace and Nagy keep their jobs in 2021?
The Bears are overdue for a change at GM, so there’s almost no outcome that should save Pace’s job. That move would’ve been justified a year ago. He has done tremendous work on defense, but he has more than offset that with terrible decisions on offense. With so much to correct offensively, including the need for a new quarterback, there’s no way that job can be left in Pace’s hands. Nagy has shown promise and eventually might be a great coach, but it’s bad business to force a new GM to keep the incumbent coach. If Nagy can extract a winning season from this flawed roster, he would deserve to stay, but he’s probably out the door if Pace is.
This Bears player deserves a Pro Bowl nod:
Cornerback Kyle Fuller. Defensive backs usually don’t get much attention unless they pile up interceptions — and Fuller has only one — but he has been tremendous. Opposing quarterbacks have completed only 46.6% of their passes against him, and Fuller has allowed a 61.3 passer rating. He also has eight pass breakups and a forced fumble.
The Bears will finish the season with this record:
They’ll go 8-8 for the second consecutive season. And that’s a terrible disappointment after a 5-1 start that gave them an 83% chance of making the playoffs, based on historical data. That will leave Nagy at 28-20, which would leave him with a winning percentage (.583) barely above Lovie Smith’s in Bears history.