Chicago Bears: A unique season leaves the team in limbo

It has been quite the odd season for the Chicago Bears, so where does that leave them going forward?

The Chicago Bears are on a rollercoaster ride of an NFL season, and they have a lot on the line going into the last week of the season. They seemed to be close to cleaning house and starting over after a six-game losing streak earlier this year.  Now they’re on the brink of a playoff berth.

After a 41-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the Bears can make the playoffs even if they lose in Week 17. They will face the best team in the NFC, and their longtime rival the Green Bay Packers.

It’s a longshot, but if the Bears win in Week 17 and move onto the playoffs having won four straight games things could get interesting. Still, there is good reason to doubt quarterback Mitch Trubisky, despite his (somewhat) triumphant return.

In an already weird season that’s been highlighted by empty stadiums and frantic schedule changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bears may have repurposed Trubisky into a serviceable quarterback. It’s a great storyline, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

Trubisky’s success late in the season has come against teams with awful defenses. The man who replaced him, quarterback Nick Foles, wasn’t looking too good anyway before he suffered a leg injury in Week 10. He remained the backup when he was cleared in Week 13.

Foles has yet to recapture the magic he had when he led the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in 2018. He’s been good in streaks, but clearly wasn’t the solution to the Bears’ generational quarterback drought.

It was a cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks that both the Bears and Jaguars featured Sunday. The Jags started former Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, whose most notable moment on the Bears was somehow getting them to pay him $18.5 million guaranteed.

Jacksonville is also the team that traded Foles to the Bears, so they’re very familiar with the lineage of bad that surrounds these teams at QB. What can the Bears do about it though?

The future for the Bears could be a nightmare scenario of limbo, reminiscent of the 2007 Chicago Cubs— a good team with solid players who could get to the playoffs. But when the postseason started, everyone knew they weren’t going to be the ones hoisting the trophy in the end.

If the Bears can pull this off on Sunday and move to 9-7 with a playoff game on the way, it’ll be tough to imagine this front office even entertaining the idea of shaking things up. And that goes for the quarterback position too.

Trubisky helped the team win these past three games, and he deserves credit. But he also deserves scrutiny to see if he’s really improving or just managing these games. The offensive coaching staff has found the best way to utilize him…for now.

It seems as if the team has been able to shield Trubisky by mostly focusing on short throws to his initial read off the snap. It certainly worked against terrible defenses like the Jaguars or the Houston Texans.

The real test will be next week against a team that has a top-level defense, a history of dominating Trubisky, and something to play for. The Packers would clinch the #1 seed in the NFC and a coveted first-round bye in the playoffs.

For now, the future of the Bears seems murky. Coach Matt Nagy is under contract until 2022, while GM Ryan Pace is under contract through next season. It’s unlikely they’d fire one and keep the other, and a shakeup seems unlikely if the team does end up in the playoffs.

Fans and even former Bears players called for the team to fire both Nagy and Pace at different points this season, and who could blame them? The six-game losing streak would be enough to lose most locker rooms, but somehow Nagy held on.

The Bears game comes with excitement and stakes next week, which is a positive. With so much up in the air, who knows when this team will be elite again or solve their long-standing quarterback problem? All we’re able to do now is enjoy the ride, even if it’s bumpy.