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10 Takes on the Bears: Is it time to start talking about draft positioning?

Despite their hot (5-1) start, the Chicago Bears have lost three in a row and look like a team on the brink of an all out collapse after a 24-17 loss in Week 9. Can they get things turned around or are the Bears who we thought they were?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

All season, Chicago Bears fans have heard about this team being a “pretender” despite a (5-1) start. Some wondered why, while others had wondered just how the Bears had won some of the games they did. Fast forward a few weeks later and it appears that all of the luck they had to start the year has leveled out into a record reflecting more of who this team really is.

Despite being (5-4) and on a three-game losing streak, it’s hard to believe that they are still right in the mix for a playoff spot. Even so, it’s hard not to wonder if they are in the midst of unraveling or if they can put it back together and sneak into the playoffs.

1. Winning ugly has turned into losing ugly

Shortly after taking over, quarterback Nick Foles talked about how he’d rather be winning ugly than losing pretty. Well, there’s been nothing pretty about this season. The only difference is that now they are losing ugly and it seems to be getting worse by the week.

The good news? A loss against an AFC opponent doesn’t weigh as heavily as it would against a conference opponent. The bad news? It’s hard to see how this team can compete for a playoff spot when it feels like they are more likely to lose each game rather than be competitive.

It has been a combination of things that have led to this point, but having one of the league’s worst offenses and being the most penalized team in the NFL,, top the list of massive issues for this team moving forward. There’s still seven games left in the season but I can’t help but wonder — At what point do we turn our attention to draft positioning, instead of hoping they sneak into the playoffs, just to get bounced early?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Would the Bears have gone back to Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday if he wasn’t currently injured?

When I take the emotion out of it, I tend to believe they would not and that Foles is the starter for the remainder of the season unless he gets hurt. Even so, it’s hard not to wonder if Trubisky’s athleticism would play better in an offense that has one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

Trubisky’s pocket awareness was always bad and his overall pocket presence was inconsistent at best, but I do have to wonder if his legs would be helping the team’s offense at least move the ball and keep them out of bad situations like they’ve been in.

At least according to reports, Trubisky’s injury is similar to his 2018 right shoulder injury, in which he missed two games. It’s possible that he could be ready after their Week 11 bye week and maybe the team makes drastic changes during that time to gear up for a playoff run. Either way, Trubisky at least made things exciting at times. So far, Foles has been about as boring as it gets and more importantly, just as bad as Trubisky, if not worse.

3. Speaking of the offense, how is it that both Charles Leno Jr. and Germain Ifedi looked just as bad as a pair of players that had seen minimal-to-no NFL action before Sunday’s game?

I get it. The Bears offense line was without three of their five starters. I also understand that it puts more pressure on their two starters to pick up the slack. Especially when they played a rookie with zero experience, a second-year undrafted free agent and a player in Rashaad Coward who has proven multiple times that the experiment of switching position was simply not going to work.

Even so, Leno and Ifedi have to play better and to put it bluntly, they didn’t and likely won’t.

Leno has been pretty bad going back to the start of last year and Ifedi is proving that the Seahawks gave up on their former first-round pick because he just doesn’t possess enough to make him an NFL starting-caliber player.

Either way, it’s startling to see how many issues this offensive line has. It’s even more defeating to look into the future and figure out how they’re going to fix an offense that needs a ton of resources dumped into it, in a short amount of time.

At this point, I wouldn’t bring Ifedi back and with what Leno is set to make in 2021, it’s time that the team seriously considers moving on in the off-season.

4. Some may continue to blame the defense, but one has to wonder, how good would this unit look if they even had a competent offense to support them?

All in all, the Bears defense gave up 17 actual points and less than 250 total offensive yards. That included holding quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a line of 10/21 for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He went into the fourth quarter with five completions.

They also kept Derek Henry in check most of the day and he finished with a (3.2) yards-per-carry line. That in itself is pretty impressive.

Even so, it’s natural for fans to have unrealistic expectations and blame the defense for not keeping games close. So, I get it, but man... it’s not hard to imagine how good this unit would look on the stat sheet if they had an offense that could actually move the ball and score points.

It’s hard to swallow that this franchise will once again end up wasting another top end defense because they couldn’t field a modern day NFL offense capable of winning them games or at least help them win games.

5. Listening to the broadcast yesterday, it’s hard to believe that this time last year Cairo Santos was replaced in Tennessee by Cody Parkey

On Sunday’s telecast, they were talking about how much Santos struggled during his time in Tennessee and that after going 0/4 in a game, the Titans cut bait and signed former Bears kicker Cody Parkey.

Fast forward a year later and it appears that Santos could be the Bears’ answer for their kicking woes and for the most part, Parkey has done well in Cleveland on his second chance. Weirdly enough, the Titans are the team that is still struggling to find an answer at kicker, despite having veteran Stephen Gostkowski right now.

Either way, this has been one of the bright spots for the Bears in 2020 and a fascinating story as a whole when you look at Santos’ up and down career to this point.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

6. Linebacker Roquan Smith is playing at an All-Pro level

Now for some good, I suppose. One could say that the former No. 8 overall pick has actually been great and I would absolutely agree.

Smith had another damn-good game on Sunday totaling 11 tackles, two for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit. On top of that, he was very good in coverage again and seemingly all over the field.

Heading into this season, it was a crucial year for Smith and so far, he has delivered in a big way. Any time you take a non-pass rushing linebacker that high in the draft, you need him to play at a very high level in order to justify the lack of positional value. Here’s to hoping that 2020 continues to be the defining year in his career.

7. Speaking of current draft picks on the roster...

Both cornerback Jaylon Johnson and receiver Darnell Mooney continue to be the most impressive players that have come from their most recent draft class.

Johnson has done more than enough in holding down the job opposite of Kyle Fuller, including a pair of pass breakups on Sunday. While he’s had some ups and downs, his overall consistency has been impressive. Especially for a rookie.

With Mooney, it’s clear that he’s capable of much more than what he’s done so far. With a competent quarterback behind center, it feels like he’s an explosive down the field weapon waiting to happen. If they can somehow get Allen Robinson locked down long-term, these two could end up leading a new era of offensive football in Chicago for years to come.

NCAA Football: Texas State at BYU USA TODAY NETWORK

8. Looking forward to this year’s draft...

You can’t help but wonder if losing may actually be the best thing for the Bears right now. Now, I’m not saying fans should be rooting for loses, but at this point, finishing (8-8) or (9-7) may hurt more than help because not only would it likely keep them out of the playoffs, but it hurts their chances of being able to draft an impactful quarterback in the first round. Assuming that’s the route they go in April.

Only time will tell how this plays out, but again, it’s becoming pretty clear that they don’t have their answer on the roster at the position and with what could end up being a loaded quarterback class, better draft position could help their cause greatly as they search for their next franchise quarterback.

9. Watching around the league, it’s amazing how much of a week-to-week product we’ve seen so far in 2020

This isn’t really an excuse for the Bears or to give anyone a reason for optimism. With that being said, it’s wild to see how many inconsistent teams we’ve seen from a week-to-week stand point.

In Week 9 alone, we saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get blown out on national television, an undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers team almost lose to a Dallas Cowboys group on their fourth quarterback of the year and a Minnesota Vikings team that appears to be figuring things out.

More than most years, it’s hard to predict what type of product we’ll see each week from most teams.

10a. Week 10 marks the ninth time this season the Bears will be underdogs in 2020

In the beginning, it was somewhat hard to see why Vegas felt this way about the Bears, but as the season has progressed, it has become more understandable. Heading into Sunday, the Bears were two-point favorites against a lowly Vikings team. Heading into this week, they find themselves an underdogs at home against a three-win team.

10b. In regards to COVID-19, it’ll be very interesting to see if the Bears can stop the spread amongst the team

Last week started with a positive test from backup offensive lineman Jason Spriggs and ended with four players missing Week 9’s game. That included a pair of positive tests from Cody Whitehair and Lachavious Simmons and Deon Bush being quarantined after having close contact with someone outside of the organization that tested positive. As we’ve seen with teams this year, limiting the spread is going to be key.