Somehow, some way the Chicago Bears went from (5-1) to (5-7) after they lost their sixth straight game at home on Sunday afternoon. Despite having a 10-point lead for the majority of the game, including going into the final four minutes of the game, they found a way to lose by a score of 34-30.
Will there be a complete clean out at Halas Hall for the fourth time in 10 years? Where do they go from here? Should draft positioning become the focus for Bears fans? All of this and more in this week’s 10 takes.
1. Despite me being against the idea of firing everyone at year’s end, the Bears may have reached a point of no return after Sunday’s loss.
How does any regime come back from these last two weeks coupled with blowing a (5-1) start? That’s something that both George and Virginia McCaskey will have to answer as the season comes to a conclusion over the next four games.
I’m not sure anybody believed that their (5-1) start was actually as “real” as it looked in the standings, but man… This has been quite the collapse and one that has seen them lose three divisional games in a row in pretty bad fashion. With that being said, is there truly a way to come back from all of this? Maybe if you’re Matt Nagy, but Ryan Pace created this mess and furthered the mess this off-season with a far too aggressive approach. At year’s end, someone is going to have to pay the consequences and while I truly believe this is more on Pace than Nagy, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a complete cleanout.
The bigger question will be if Ted Phillips is either fired or removed from anything regarding the football operations side.
2. If the Bears choose to tear it all down again, there’s no way they can avoid an extensive re-tool or all-out rebuild at this point.
For as exciting as an off-season with a general manager and head coach search can be, it also signals an organization that is at a critical juncture. It’s one that this organization and its fans are far too familiar with, especially over the last decade.
So, let’s just assume they clean house with Pace and Nagy gone. Then what? They’ll likely have a Top 10 draft pick or damn-near close to it, but with their current cap situation, there seems to be no clear path to avoiding some sort of re-tool or full on rebuild.
The one true way to get out of this hell they continually find themselves in is to acquire a true franchise quarterback. That’s something this team has not truly had since the days of Jim McMahon and something that seems to allude the bad teams over the history of the NFL. They could absolutely make a run at someone like Dak Prescott — assuming the Dallas Cowboys let him walk in free agency — but even so, they need a pair of new offensive tackles and more play makers as well.
The more realistic scenario is to ride out some of these poor contracts like Robert Quinn, (etc.) and once again build a young core that can compete when the time is right. That would effectively waste Khalil Mack’s prime, but it would also allow them to cut bait with older players and give them multiple drafts with high picks to get this thing right without prematurely jumping the rebuilding process.
Only time will tell how this all pans out, but the immediate future looks bleak and magically erasing the current regime isn’t going to make all of their current problems go away.
3. Here’s an early look at some potential general manager candidates in the coming months.
Admittedly so, I haven’t done a ton of leg work on this search yet. One, because I don’t have the energy for it quite yet and two, because with at least four teams looking for new general managers in the coming months, the candidate pool is bound to be somewhat watered down.
With that being said, here are 10 names to keep an eye on over the next month or two.
- Louis Riddick (Currently at ESPN)
- Mike Borgonzi (Kansas City Chiefs)
- Nick Caserio (New England Patriots)
- Daniel Jeremiah (Currently with the NFL Network)
- Elliot Wolfe (Currently with the Patriots, formerly with the Green Bay Packers)
- Joe Horitz (Baltimore Ravens)
- Thomas Demitroff (Formerly with the Atlanta Falcons)
- John Dorsey (Formerly with the Cleveland Browns and Chiefs)
- George Paton (Minnesota Vikings)
- Jon-Eric Sullivan (Green Bay Packers)
There’s not a ton of sexy or well-known names on this list, but guys like Borgonzi, Horitz, Paton and Sullivan are “hotter” names and have gained steam over the past few years.
4. We did potential general manager candidates, so why not take a look at the head coach side of things?
I listed 10 names here, but trust me when I say there are plenty more worth looking over. Some of the college names are interesting and only two are listed. With all of that in mind, here are 10 that you’ll see quite often over the next few months.
- OC Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs)
- DC Robert Saleh (San Francisco 49ers)
- OC Brian Daboll (Buffalo Bills)
- DC Don Martindale (Ravens)
- OC Greg Roman (Ravens)
- OC Byron Leftwich (Cardinals)
- OC Josh McDaniels (Patriots)
- OC Arthur Smith (Tennessee Titans)
- HC Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)
- HC Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)
There are plenty of recognizable names on the head coach front and some familiar names for Bears fans, including Fitzgerald and Harbaugh. I still doubt Fitzgerald leaves and while Harbaugh makes sense due to history, I’m not sure that’s a hire that makes a ton of sense for this team.
I think the big key moving forward if they move on from Nagy will be keeping focus on the best candidate, not what side of the ball he coaches.
5. With all of this in mind, I’m of the opinion that until there’s a change in ownership, things will remain the same.
Yeah… That may be somewhat of a bleak outlook, but we’ve seen the same trends repeat themselves year after year with minimal change. The only constants over the last three-plus decades? The McCaskeys.
While I’m not sure how and when this will change, I’m simply of the belief that continuing to clean house while keeping things the same at the top will never actually truly change much of anything.
The only other solution? Re-work the entire football operations side of things. That includes getting Phillips completely out of the mix and bringing in people who actually know football because let’s be honest, George McCaskey does not, nor does Phillips.
Until that happens, we’ll continue to see the same trends.
6. Onto the game, I suppose…
So how about that offense? Thirty points against any defense should be considered a win right now, and they seem to be putting things together a little better than they had previous to the past two games. It’s worth noting that Week 12 was primarily done in garbage time, but this week was not and should be noted. Or at least a few players should be noted.
- RB David Montgomery
Montgomery continues to impress and get better as the season goes on. Part of that is due to the better interior blocking and there’s also the element of new blood as the play caller. Even so, Montgomery looks more explosive and for the most part, appears to be more decisive when making his decisions at the line of scrimmage.
- WR Darnell Mooney
When you look at his overall numbers (four catches for 41 yards) not’s not that impressive, but his speed and overall explosion with the ball in his hands continue to stick out. With a competent quarterback and an NFL level offensive scheme, Mooney is going to become a serious weapon for this team.
- OC Sam Mustipher
Talk about a pleasant surprise… I once viewed Mustipher as questionable depth at best. So far, he has played like a starting-level player that will have the final four games of the season to complete his audition for a starting job in 2021. So far, he has been very impressive and continues to look like the better of the two undrafted Notre Dame offensive linemen the team signed last year.
7. The offense may look better, but the defense has taken a large step back at the wrong time.
Even before they ultimately gave up 34 points to lose the game, the defense’s Week 13 performance was not a good one. They failed to get off the field on multiple third and long situations and their red zone woes continued.
On top of all of that, their high-priced defensive line is simply not getting to the quarterback which is causing issues in coverage. Especially when they are playing so soft and leaving the middle of the field open.
I also think it’s safe to say that losing Vic Fangio was a bigger loss to this defense than I had originally anticipated. The talent is there, but their past two performances have not been and that’s reason for concern. Especially when you consider how much has been invested into this unit overall.
8. Has Cairo Santos become an off-season priority?
Despite his blocked extra point on the team’s first touchdown, Santos has been one of the team’s most consistent performers. He has made 16 consecutive field goals on the year which is something Bears fans haven’t seen since the prime of Robbie Gould.
I’m not sure I would go extremely long-term with Santos, but I think he has absolutely earned the job moving into 2021 and should be rewarded as such in the off-season. Consistent kickers are hard to find and Santos’ career revitalization is one that should be noted.
9. One thing to keep in mind with Allen Robinson heading into the off-season...
Pace may have screwed this entire extension up with their top offensive weapon, but that doesn’t mean the door on Robinson staying in Chicago is completely shut yet. Especially if they decide to make a change at general manager.
While I’m not exactly sure the Bears can afford to pay him long-term, they also need to find a way to make things work without kicking the can down the road with their current cap situation. The best way to do that is with a new general manager and that appears to becoming a reality as this season unfolds.
Either way, I wouldn’t write off Robinson’s future in Chicago just yet.
10a. (99.1%)- The Bears win probability heading into the final four minutes of Sunday’s game
10b. The Bears open up as 3-point underdogs against the (4-8) Houston Texans next Sunday
Again, enough said.
10b. There’s only four more games left on the year but man, it feels like it’s going to be a long one
Hang in there, Bears fans. The season is almost over, as is this nightmare of a collapse. At this point, all we can really hope for is that the Bears will be in a position to draft some good talent in April and start trying to get this team back on the right track.