Finding meaning in the Chicago Bears’ last four games
The problem with a 4-9 is that the Bears have yet to be mathematically eliminated from the wildcard hunt.
In reality, the elimination happened a few weeks ago when they lost to Baltimore, but the calculators can be adjusted to accommodate the fantasy.
As long as a team stays there, the coaches can hang on to that hope and they can swing that carrot for the players. Some of them might even bite it too.
“They’re fighting, you know our guys are playing hard,” said coach Matt Nagy after the loss to Green Bay. “I think they showed it tonight.”
On Monday, he continued with, “There is no giving up.”
It could be, but this season is over for the Bears and what makes it even worse is the predicament on the coaching staff and the high likelihood of a regime change.
The likely lame duck status makes the last four games of this season totally meaningless. Four games is an eternity in the NFL. For fans, watching four weeks of meaningless games is a nightmare. Although, in the case of the Bears, people seem willing to watch anyway. Sunday night’s game had the best SNF odds since Tom Brady’s return to New England on October 3.
Players need an extra incentive when trying to focus on football during the holiday season without the possibility of the playoffs.
When there’s a possibility that they won’t even play for their own starting position or roster for next season because the coaching staff could be cut, then that has the potential to get downright ugly.
Think of Houston when the Texans and Deshaun Watson came to Soldier Field last year. Think of the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars in December almost every season.
It’s the bears now.
They play under a lame duck diet and for nothing. It is dark to say the least.
Herman Edwards famous rant “Hello, you play to win the game”, however, there are some things the Bears have to play for the rest of the year and here they are sorted in order.
1. Justin Champs
It’s the same thing they’ve been playing for ever since George McCaskey decided their rookie should start quarterback, or whoever actually made that decision. Fields development is the goal this season and no one should have thought otherwise. As long as they were actually going to play Fields, they had to assume it would be a tough race. When their 30-something defense started taking injuries, they must have known it would be difficult. Trying to protect Fields, trying to catch passes from him and working to be as good as possible with him has to be a goal for every player in the future, as it should already have been regardless of the record of the l ‘team. In short, he’s the man and if you can’t help the man, you’ll be somewhere else.
2. Development of young players
Tight end Cole Kmet, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and edge rusher Trevis Gipson were all contributors to last year’s draft class, while tackle Larry Borom was a big contributor to last year’s draft class. this class. Everything can continue to improve. Kmet has 43 receptions but must be more impactful. Johnson needs interceptions. He only has one. Mooney needs to establish more consistency as a game breaker. Gipson’s game even grabbed the attention of Pro Football Focus this year, but it also needs more big games. Young guns must fire for a forward-looking team. There is a fine line for walking here, however. Giving Teven Jenkins the chance to protect Justin Fields’ blind side if Jason Peters is healthy doesn’t make sense. It’s more important for Fields to develop and maintain his health than seeing Jenkins huff as he tries to get past the block. It might be different for him next year if he has an offseason, training camp and start to the season to support his game, but for now he seems overwhelmed when trying to fight NFL caliber defensive players. .
3. Individual performance
Robert Quinn immediately comes to mind. With 14 sacks, he only needs one per game to break Richard Dent’s team record of 17 1/2. It seemed unthinkable after the sudden drop last year. Quinn needs to get real consideration for Returning Player of the Year. ACL tears at the end of the season aren’t the only things players overcome to win this award. When the award was first launched after being on hiatus for a few decades, Doug Flutie won it and his comeback was from the CFL, which is kind of a slap in the face of the CFL if you think about it. So Quinn needs consideration.
Pro Bowl spots might be available for Quinn and maybe even Roquan Smith, but his hamstring injury could make that difficult.
Mooney can reach 1,000 receiving yards with 260 more yards, but if he has another game like he did Sunday night with a catch for 19 yards, he’s unlikely to make it.
It sounds trite to some, but it’s true.
Allen Robinson sure doesn’t want to go out in Chicago like Sunday, making two catches a game as he walks into free will. Besides the fact that it might hurt him in free agency to only have 40 takes, he would rather just let the trend rise.
Likewise for Akiem Hicks, who already became moved last week at the idea of ending his career with the Bears after this year. If he ever manages to recover from that ankle injury, then he will want to finish strong.
The same could be true of other veterans whose contracts expire like Jimmy Graham, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd.
Smith gets hers no matter what, and it should be big. Most likely, that will come before next season since he was a first-round pick.
Bilal Nichols has had a patchy season and a solid finish could spark interest from Ryan Pace or the next GM.
James Daniels has had a solid season after moving to the right and ranks 23rd out of 80 goalies Pro Football Focus has ranked. A solid finish helps to strike a deal.
David Montgomery would play strong if it was a pickup game in someone’s backyard, but there’s a possibility he could get him an extra time after this season as next year would be the last year of his contract.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe is a reserve and special teams player who was a fourth-round draft pick. If he continues to play hard on special teams, maybe the team will offer him a minimum veteran contract to stay in Chicago. He hasn’t proven he can play in defense.
6. Impress for the future
Young players who haven’t been used a lot but who could be pushed into action might give rise to future coaching staff. Take the example of Josh Bellamy. He was with the Bears, his third team in three years, and was a type of practice team who played four games but played hard and left a big enough impression that the new coaching staff and the new one. general manager in 2015 give him a chance. He ended up catching 19 assists over the next two seasons and 24 in 2017. Here it is mostly players from the practice squad who could be on the roster or simply elevated to the 53-man rank. might have the chance to impress for a future spot. We think of someone like practice team cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. or wide receiver Dazz Newsome.
Twitter: BearDigest @ BearsOnMaven