Chicago Bears: It’s time to look forward to 2021

Chicago Bears (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

It’s time for the Chicago Bears to start looking towards 2021.

For a few weeks anyway, the Chicago Bears gave fans a glimmer of hope and optimism. Despite the pundits labeling them frauds, they sat at 5-1 just three weeks ago and were knocking on the door of the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.

Since that time, they have lost three straight games and what feels like about a dozen players to injury. Their season, for a variety of reasons, feels like it’s on the verge of falling apart. Even if it doesn’t, this team does not have the makings of one that is likely to make a deep run in the playoffs if they are somehow able to sneak in.

With that in mind, Ryan Pace (if he’s even here next year) and the Bears should start to focus on the 2021 season. Note — this is not to suggest they should tank. Frankly, the character and makeup of this team wouldn’t allow it. However, what I am suggesting is they start to take a closer look at some players who could play a key role on next year’s squad.

I’m talking about players like Riley Ridley, Marqui Christian, Alex Bars, and Trevis Gipson.

Riley Ridley

It is starting to feel like a foregone conclusion that Allen Robinson won’t be returning to the Bears next season. A series of vague tweets and a recent story from 670 The Score’s Chris Emma, seem to portend the worst.

Without getting into just how badly Ryan Pace mucked this situation up, he needs to deal with it. He can start by getting an honest assessment of the wide receiver he thought enough to select in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s time to figure out whether he can play a role on this team, and what that role is.

Marqui Christian

As of this moment, the Bears do not have a safety not named Eddie Jackson under contract next year. Considering how many safeties they have on the roster, that’s somewhat surprising. Nevertheless, with their impending salary cap issues, you have to wonder whether they’ll be able to afford to re-sign Tashaun Gipson or Deon Bush.

This is why it’s critical that the Bears activate Christian to see if he can step in and fill that void. If so, and I have every reason to believe he can, that would be a tremendous lift to the team as it will prevent them from overpaying for Bush or Gipson. The Bears might feel this way too, as they have signed Christian twice this year to their practice squad. The mutual interest is there — now they just need to give him a chance.

Alex Bars

One of the most perplexing storylines of the 2020 season is head coach Matt Nagy’s insistence on playing Rashaad Coward over Bars. The former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame has held his own in his limited action, but most certainly has outperformed Coward.

Considering the Bears offensive line woes, and the likelihood they will have to spend significant offseason resources addressing the position, they would be wise to see whether Bars can lessen that burden just a bit.

Trevis Gipson

Gipson was a player I was excited to see develop this year. Unfortunately, after getting some time at the beginning of the season, he has gone missing. Considering how little production they’re getting out of Robert Quinn’s $70 million contract ($30M guaranteed), you have to wonder why they wouldn’t try to rotate Gipson in more to give him a shot.

Not only could he provide a spark, but if the team has any ability to move on from Quinn’s contract, they’ll need to know if Gipson could fill that role in the future.

Next. 5 candidates to replace Ryan Pace. dark

Bottom Line

Again, none of this is meant to suggest that the Bears should tank, but the reality is this team is going to need to retool for the future. So why not use the remainder of the season to get a better look at what you have on your roster before they go somewhere else to find success.