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Mark Potash: Analyzing Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and the 2018 Bears season

Sun-Times Bears beat writer Mark Potash breaks down the most important aspects of the Bears’ 2018 season and looks at what’s ahead:

Matt Nagy’s first season was … :

Better than expected, despite the stain at the end. Nagy gave the Bears the offensive boost they were looking for. What we didn’t know was how good of a head coach he would be — and Nagy was outstanding. In every facet of the job, Nagy never looked like a rookie head coach. Without laying a hand on Vic Fangio’s defense, he commanded the respect and helped spur that side of the ball to elite status.

What I liked about Mitch Trubisky’s season:

Khalil Mack (52) reacts after making a play against the Packers in the season opener. Led by Mack the Bears led the NFL in scoring defense in 2018. | Jeffrey Phelps/AP Photo

Showed the ability to be prolific when the offense is in a groove. Was better against the Packers and Vikings the second time around. Did not throw an interception in his last four games. Established himself as the singular leader of the entire team.

What I didn’t like about Trubisky’s season:

It seems like the offense lifts him rather than the other way around. Didn’t show enough of the “it” factor. Puts himself at risk of injury too often.

Losing Vic Fangio will … :

Be a shock to the Bears’ system at first, but should not take too much of the bite out of the defense, if any at all, under Chuck Pagano — a respected, veteran coach who figures to know not to mess too much with a good thing. With only Prince Amukamara reaching 30 before next season, this defense is loaded with players still getting better — the average age of the top 15 players in snaps is 26.2. There’s room for growth, which could compensate for losing Fangio’s leadership.

My 2018 Bears MVP is … :

Khalil Mack. Like Nagy, he had an unexpectedly exponential effect on the team — raising the bar for other defensive players on the field and off.

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My underrated hero is … :

Eddie Goldman. Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the way to measure Goldman’s impact is the run game. Bears were first in rushing yards allowed per game (80.0), fourth in yards per carry (3.8) and first in negative rushes (63 — in 339 opponent rushes, the second fewest in the league).

As for Cody Parkey, I would … :

Let the dust settle, see what options exist and consider giving Parkey a chance to prove himself in training camp, with competition. It’s rare that a kicker with Parkey’s baggage has rejuvenated his career without a change of scenery. But based on Ryan Pace’s history, there’s no guarantee he’ll find the right guy. And the salary cap outlay of cutting Parkey and signing someone like Robbie Gould is not quite prohibitive, but close to it.

The biggest challenge next year will be … :

Besides settling the kicker situation, staying as healthy as they were in 2018, adjusting to a new defensive coordinator, taking a giant leap on offense and playing a tougher first-place schedule — meeting expectations of a playoff run. The Bears have to take their entire game to another level in 2019.