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Grading the 2018 Chicago Bears season

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The season may have ended in heartbreak for most fans, but make no mistake, 2018 was a big step in the right direction.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

They always say “time flies when you’re having fun,” and I’m not sure that saying could have fit any better for the Chicago Bears 2018 season.

While things started out in heartbreaking fashion with a loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Bears more than doubled their win total from just a year ago. Within those 12 wins, they held a (5-1) divisional record, including a handful of games they flat out dominated their division rivals.

Unfortunately, everything came to an abrupt end on the tail of a 43-yard missed field goal from Cody Parkey in the opening round of the playoffs. Even so, it’s best to remember the good times. Those good times resulted in 12 wins, growth within the roster and ultimately their first playoff bid since 2010.

Offense

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

As I’ve written about through each quarter, the best way to describe the offensive performance in 2018 was inconsistent. Things started off rough, especially for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Following the first three games, the offense appeared to have found its rhythm, including four games in which they scored 30 points or more.

Within those highs, Trubisky won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, including a game in which he threw for six touchdowns.

Unfortunately, in their last five games, they did not eclipse their season average of (26.3) points-per-game.

Final offensive rankings:

  • 9th in points (26.3)
  • 11th in rushing (121.1)
  • 20th in DVOA
  • 21st in yards (343.9)
  • 21st in passing (222.8)

Three Studs:

  • RB Tarik Cohen
  • C Cody Whitehair
  • QB Mitchell Trubisky

Three Duds:

  • WR Kevin White
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • TE Dion Sims

Grade: B-

Points were hard to come by for the Bears over their final five games, including their playoff loss. Even so, there were plenty of bright spots. Those include Trubisky’s progression into a Pro Bowl quarterback, Cohen’s mutli-faceted game and even Allen Robinson II coming on strong at the end of the season.

There’s plenty to be optimistic about, but if the Bears plan to become a true Super Bowl contender, they will need the offense to take the next step in 2019. That will require another gear from Trubisky, continued growth from Anthony Miller and a more consistent run game.

Defense

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This was a purely dominating unit. Despite some debate down the stretch, the Bears had the best defense in the league and frankly, it wasn’t that close.

Despite not playing very well in their playoff loss, they still gave up just 16 points to an Eagles offense that had averaged (27.4) points-per-game over their last five games. So, it’s hard to blame the defense for their final loss of the season.

All in all, this was a Super Bowl ready unit and even with a change at defensive coordinator, this is a unit that should be on the same level in 2019. Oh and this unit had three All-Pros and four Pro Bowlers overall.

  • 1st in Defensive DVOA
  • T-3rd in sacks (50)
  • 1st in defensive touchdowns (6)
  • 1st in takeaways (36)
  • 3rd in turnover differential (+12)
  • 1st in points (17.7)
  • 3rd in yards (299.7)

Three Studs:

  • OLB Khalil Mack
  • S Eddie Jackson
  • CB Kyle Fuller

Three More Studs:

  • DL Akiem Hicks
  • LB Roquan Smith
  • DL Eddie Goldman

Grade: A+

There’s really no way I could put any of the defensive starters in the “dud” category. The number one overall ranked defense in the league simply didn’t have any holes. All of that despite missing Jackson and Aaron Lynch over their final three games of the season.

Not only was this a unit with three All-Pros, it was a unit with many unsung heroes like Bilal Nichols, Danny Trevathan and a run stuffer like Goldman. Heading into the offseason, they have nine of their 11 starters set to return, which usually means good things for the future.

Special Teams

Wild Card Round - Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Simply put, this is a unit that has to get better next year.

Cody Parkey missed the biggest kick of his life and followed that up with a pitty tour on the Today Show. Needless to say he’s gone. How they choose to replace him has remained to be seen, but make no mistake, he will not be kicking for the Bears in 2019.

Punter Patrick O’Donnell is another player that was up and down. He’s also more than likely destined to be replaced in the coming months and played his negative part in the team’s 16-15 playoff loss, after his 36-yard shank that aided the Eagles offense on their game winning drive.

All in all, this is a unit that simply has to be better in 2019 and with a few changes it should be.

Grade: D

What’s Ahead

The NFL Offseason.

The Bears have already extended right tackle Bobby Massie for the next four years and only have two starters that are due to be free agents in Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan.

I’d say it’s safe to assume at this point that the team will bring at least one of them back, which means that the other position, along with depth at outside linebacker, a kicker and possible a punter, among better depth will be on the top of the priority list starting March 13th when free agency opens.

It’s also worth noting that the Bears are short on draft picks, since they won’t have their first or second round picks in April.

Overall, I’d say the Bears sit in a very good position moving forward and despite having limited cap space, they have multiple avenues to create more if need be.

Overall Grade

While some may still be trying to bury the pain of the Wild Card round loss to the Eagles, I think most fans should consider this season a big success.

Not only did they make the playoffs for the first time since 2010, they looked poised to find themselves back in the playoffs for 2019 and beyond, considering most of their roster remains under financial control.

Going from worst to first is never easy, but going from (5-11) to (12-4) in one season is pretty remarkable. I think I speak for most when I say that they more than exceeded most fans expectations.

Overall 2018 season grade: A