Adam L. Jahns: Analyzing the Bears’ highs, lows and what it means for new coach

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mitchtrubiskybengals.jpg

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky drops back to pass against the Bengals. (AP).

Sun-Times expert Adam L. Jahns dissects the 2017 season and how the Bears are positioned moving forward.

Coach John Fox was done when …

Mitch Trubisky started against the Vikings onOct. 9. The evaluation of Fox and his team changed at that moment. You even can go back to the draft. Fox needed to prove he was the best coach for a young, talented quarterback — something he never has done in his long coaching career. He failed.

General manager Ryan Pace deserves …

His share of criticism. But he should be judged more by his draft classes than by his free-agent spending. Pace won’t say it — and neither will president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey — but the Bears are rebuilding. That comes through the draft, not through contracts that were designed to protect the Bears’ long-term salary-cap health and meant to allow the them to tread water.

Mitch Trubisky proved that …

He’s a young quarterback with much to learn. And what’s so wrong with that? What Trubisky needs is help, whether it’s a coach who allows game plans to be built around him or better receivers. Off the field, Trubisky seems to have the right intangibles.

My 2017 MVP is …

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Not only was he the best player on a top-10 defense, but he also was the most consistent and durable. He had a career-high 8½ sacks. Pace might have struck out on other free-agent signings, but he hit a home run with Hicks.

My biggest disappointment was …

The 2017 free-agent class, and it starts with cornerback Marcus Cooper. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016 for the Cardinals. There was a reason to believe in him. Instead, he was a benchwarmer behind Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. Cooper’s problems started when he failed to return a blocked field goal for an easy touchdown against the Steelers. It was a mind-bogglingly bad play. He never recovered from it.

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I’m optimistic about 2018 because …

The Bears have a quarterback. We don’t know what Trubisky will be, but at least the Bears have a quarterback they staunchly believe in. In the NFL, you either have a quarterback or you’re desperately searching for one.

I’m pessimistic about 2018 because …

The Bears aren’t as close as they think they are, not with holes/concerns on the offensive line and at pass rusher, cornerback, receiver and inside linebacker. Pace needs to be aggressive — and right — when addressing those positions in the offseason. His draft picks matter more, but it might be time to make a significant free-agent addition.

The next coach must …

Share Pace’s unwavering belief in Trubisky. He can’t lie to himself during the hiring process because he wants the Bears’ job. His future and Pace’s future will be tied to Trubisky. The Bears’ next coach must turn Trubisky into the quarterback who changes the Bears for the better — or else.

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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