The Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley answers the Bears’ biggest offseason questions:
The Bears’ season-ending press conference was ....
Unsettling, yet unsurprising. It wasn’t a shock the Bears clung to inertia by keeping coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace and president/CEO Ted Phillips, but the way it was explained was, and remains, a problem. Phillips’ laughable quote —”Have we gotten the quarterback situation completely right? No. Have we won enough games? No. But everything else is there,” he said —is already infamous.
Who should start Week 1 at quarterback?
Sam Darnold. The Jets have the second pick in the draft and will consider Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson, two quarterbacks that can grow with their team. If so, they’d put Sam Darnold on the market, and the Bears would be wise to trade a second-round pick for him. Darnold just went 2-10 and threw more interceptions than touchdowns last year, but he’s only 23, has good draft pedigree and would benefit from exiting a toxic Jets culture. He’d have a smaller learning curve than a rookie—critical for a must-win season.
Will they keep Allen Robinson?
Yes. On the franchise tag.
The biggest name to get cut or traded this offseason will be …
Jimmy Graham’s the obvious one. His touchdown catch and run up the tunnel Sunday capped his Bears stint, and maybe his career.
Who was their MVP?
Roquan Smith was their best player, and might have been the best inside linebacker in the NFL before he hurt his left elbow in the finale. He should be a first-team all-pro next year. Honorable mention goes to Bears head trainer and infectious control officer Andre Tucker, who kept the coronavirus from overrunning Halas Hall. Only one starter missed one game all year because of a positive test.
Who was their most disappointing player?
The Bears took Anthony Miller No. 51 overall in 2018 — a year before the Titans did the same with star pass-catcher AJ Brown —and planned for him to develop into, at minimum, their No. 2 receiver. In his third season, though, he got worse. Darnell Mooney beat him out in camp. He finished with 171 fewer receiving yards than in 2019. While Miller’s athleticism is off the charts — he can beat man defense all day — he makes so many mistakes that the Bears are loath to trust him. Getting ejected for punching CJ Gardner-Johnson in the playoffs feels like the final betrayal.
Beside quarterback, Ryan Pace’s biggest challenge this offseason will be …
Improving the pass-catchers on his roster. Tarik Cohen’s return will help, as will the momentum David Montgomery got from a breakout season. Bringing back Robinson — and keeping him happy — should be a priority. The Bears need another pass-catching tight end, presuming they cut Graham. Pace needs to decide whether to part with Miller; McCaskey’s frustration with the receiver doesn’t bode well for his return.