Sun-Times expert Adam L. Jahns breaks down the most important aspects of the Bears’ 2018 season and looks at what’s ahead:
Matt Nagy’s first season was … :
An extremely encouraging stepping-stone. Whether it was establishing his “be obsessed” culture, challenging his defensive players or developing Mitch Trubisky, Nagy pushed a lot of the right buttons this season. His first year still had its learning experiences. Navigating the loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was a new one, too. But Nagy also is a coach of the year candidate for many reasons.
What I liked about Trubisky’s season:
Beyond improving in every major statistical category from his rookie season his improvement in handling the big moments of big games is noteworthy. Three performances stand out: the NFC North-clinching win against the Packers in Week 15, the go-for-the-kill victory against the Vikings in Week 17 and his fourth-quarter success in the wild-card loss against the Eagles.
What I didn’t like about Trubisky’s season:
A feeling that more should have been accomplished. Perhaps, that’s what happens when Trubisky plays in the same NFL as Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. But each quarterback has his own path. Trubisky’s 95.4 passer rating ranked 16th, but it’s better than Jay Cutler’s career-best mark of 92.3. Despite Trubisky’s struggles, a new standard has been set. Let’s see what’s next.
Losing Vic Fangio will … :
Be missed but ultimately prove to be replaceable. There undoubtedly will be a transition period for new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, but the personnel of the Bears’ defense is too good for a major letdown. It’s also a defense full of veterans who will help hold the entire unit to the high standards that Fangio set this season. Linebacker Roquan Smith also appears poised for stardom.
My 2018 Bears MVP is … :
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack. It’s obvious that his arrival had a ripple effect. The entire defense improved because of what he provides. But the intangible part of his arrival shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s not a vocal leader, but his acquisition put everyone on notice. The Bears wanted to win now — and they did.
My underrated hero is … :
Receiver Allen Robinson. He didn’t put up No. 1 receiver numbers during the regular season — 55 catches, 754 yards and four touchdowns — but he still showed that he can be a top threat. The Eagles couldn’t contain him in the playoffs.
As for Cody Parkey, I would … :
Eat what’s left of his guaranteed money and move on. Kickers can redeem themselves, but for his own good, it might be best to keep him out of Bourbonnais, where fans will be right on top of him in camp. His appearance on NBC’s Today show only made matters worse.
The biggest challenge next year will be … :
Handling expectations. That, of course, starts with Nagy and his work with Trubisky. The Bears’ first-place schedule will be easier to handle if Trubisky takes the next steps in his development.