Bears

Patrick Finley: Analyzing the best and worst of the Bears after their 3-1 start

A quarter of the way into the season, Sun-Times expert Patrick Finley examines the 3-1 Bears as they head out of their bye week:

The Bears’ identity after four games is  …

Split in two. The defense is a group of vicious veterans with its eyes on being the best unit in the league. The offense is trying to find its way. Thus far, that bifurcation hasn’t produced much locker room tension — yet.

Is Mitch Trubisky progressing properly?

The Bucs game covered a lot of flaws, statistically — his season passer rating went up from 77.8 to 101.6 because of it. But in a league that’s featuring more scoring than ever before, the Bears need Trubisky to win a game when his defense struggles. He’s not there yet.

What kind of head coach has Matt Nagy proved to be?

A fun one. From averaging at least one trick play a game to instituting mandatory dance parties when the Bears win, Nagy has proven that smiling and success aren’t mutually exclusive. Of course, it helps that he’s winning.

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack celebrates with fans last week. | David Banks, AP photo

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack celebrates with fans last week. | David Banks, AP photo

The most impressive part about Khalil Mack has been …

That he was able to take off with such a short runway, training-wise. Mack has been perhaps the best player in the NFL despite missing the entire preseason program. When Joey Bosa tried to play after his 2016 holdout, he hurt his hamstring and didn’t make his debut until Week 5.

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The Bears’ MVP not named Mack has been …

Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Why him and not Bears general manager Ryan Pace? Because no other team would have done what the Raiders did — trade Mack and a second-round pick.

The biggest surprise has been …

They’ve stayed healthy. In September 2017, the Bears put four starters — safety Quintin Demps, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman and receivers Kevin White and Cam Meredith — on injured reserve. The September before, they put former first-round pick Kyle Fuller on IR. This September, though, the IR damage was limited to backups Adam Shaheen, who was hurt in August, and Sam Acho.

The biggest disappointment has been …

The Bears led the league with 18 sacks through four games. Leonard Floyd accounted for zero of them. Club on his hand or not, the Bears need better production from their former first-round pick. He needs to prove his worth, too — the Bears must decide during the offseason whether to pick up his fifth-year option.

The Bears are on track to …

Challenge for the NFC North title. The Vikings and Packers have more flaws than we thought five weeks ago, and the Bears have a defense that has proven it can carry the team even when the offense stinks. The Bears started the season with 7-1 odds to win the division. Now the Bears are somewhere between 2-1 and 3-1