Bears

Bears 21, Vikings 19: Whose arrows are up and down after hollow season-ending win

Bears 21, Vikings 19: Whose arrows are up and down after hollow season-ending win

MINNEAPOLIS — Well, it’s over. And I’m not just saying that to be dramatic, like after the Eagles, Rams, Packers and Chiefs games – it’s actually, like, OVER over. After an entirely underwhelming 21-19 win against the Vikings’ backups, the Bears’ season ends with eight wins and eight losses. For the final time in 2019, here’s where the arrows are pointing: 

ARROW UP – Eddy Pineiro 

He hit the game-winner, so there’s that. Otherwise, Pineiro has been the Bears’ most consistent offensive weapon not named Allen Robinson since the Rams’ loss, and he finished his first season on another strong note. He hit three field goals in the first half alone (26, 33, 34) and ended the year hitting his last 11 attempts. And yeah, only one of those – a 46-yarder against the Chiefs – was longer than 40 yards, but for a young kicker, finishing 2019 consistently is a great end to an up-and-down season. Matt Nagy has been adamant that Pineiro is the guy going forward, and how quickly the head coach brought out the kicking unit in fourth-and-short situations would seemingly back that notion up.

ARROW DOWN – O-Line

With Bobby Massie and Rashaad Coward sitting out, the offensive line was probably doomed from the start. With that said, Sunday’s game was an emphatic reminder that a unit that felt so cohesive when the season started needs a major overhaul in the offseason. The Vikings sacked Trubisky “only” four times, but they were in his face all afternoon (6 QBH).

To the line's credit, David Montgomery’s 14-yard touchdown run in the beginning of the second half wouldn’t have gotten half as far if not for a tremendous push by the unit as a whole. It’s a bit curious that Ted Larsen got so much run over Alex Bars, who’s viewed as a starter-in-waiting by those at Halas Hall, but the Bears have never been comfortable giving Bars a big percentage of snaps this season, so his light day isn’t entirely surprising.

ARROW UP – Inside Linebackers, again

It was another great day for Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis. KPL snagged a bobbling Mike Boone reception out of thin air for an interception, which would ultimately lead to three points. Not to be outdone, Kwiatkoski also made a great individual play on Boone (poor guy), wrapping him up in the Vikings’ end zone – shoutout to Pat O’Donnell’s punt placement – for a safety. Considering how vital this game was to the salaries of Kwiatkoski and KPL heading into next season, making plays early and often was a great sign for them and the future of the Bears’ ILB position.  

ARROW DOWN – Matt Nagy 

Maybe it’s ultimately not Nagy's decision – though that would be indicting in itself – but I’m not sure what Anthony Miller is still doing on the return team. Miller has battled upper body injuries his entire career, so having him be the focal point of the most physically punishing play in football seems … misguided. The moment he took a shot to the left side of his upper body, you knew that was the end of his season. Then there’s the fact that the Bears’ offensive game plan looked more tailored to going sideways than going forward, which is typically not a useful way to score points.

It got better in the second half, but why the Bears needed to play so conservatively for the first 2 1/2 quarters is confounding. As other eliminated teams got crazy with their play calls for the final game of the year, the Bears continued embracing their conservative approach. There was also the choice to kick a 23-yard field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 8-yard line, which is not an objectively incorrect decision, but bland all the same. What would have been the harm in opening the playbook for one last pointless game?

Honorable Mention Up: Allen Robinson (nine catches, 71 yards), David Montgomery (23 carries, 113 yards, one touchdown), The ‘Skol’ Chant – sorry, it’s cool

Honorable Mention Down: The secondary’s interest in tackling, staying healthy for one final game, the 2019 season in general 

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Vic Fangio: Draft process will be tested this year

Vic Fangio: Draft process will be tested this year

Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and current Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has long been known as an old-school coach who brings a tough and grizzled approach to the locker room.

He's also an old-school talent evaluator who said the disruption to the 2020 NFL Draft process caused by the COVID-19 outbreak will test the scouting adage that suggests a prospect's college tape is the majority of his final grade.

“I think every year you hear people say — scouts and coaches and personnel people — that 90 percent of the evaluation is off the tape,” Fangio said during a conference call with reporters on March 31. “The other 10 percent is the combine and pro days and all the other stuff that goes on with it. This is the year it will really be tested.

“A lot of times you can guess how fast a guy runs generally speaking. It’s more important what the tape is. That’s what everybody says. This will be the year that it is really put to the test."

With team headquarters closed around the league, front offices can't hold prospect visits or workouts at their facility. Similarly, teams can't put prospects through medical re-checks to finalize their 2020 draft grade. There are going to be uncomfortable leaps of faith taken by general managers this year.

But as Fangio said, it's mostly about the tape anyway. At least, that's what the NFL wants you to believe.

Bears weren't alone in their interest for Nick Foles

Bears weren't alone in their interest for Nick Foles

Nick Foles may not have been the first choice among Bears fans who were hoping the team would add competition for Mitch Trubisky this offseason, but he was apparently a popular target in NFL circles as a quarterback who can help a team that's on the brink of the playoffs get over that difficult hump.

The Bears were bidding against several teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, according to The Athletic's Dan Pompei.

"The Jaguars weren’t shopping Foles this year," Pompei wrote, "but the Colts were bidding as well as the Bears. And others were in the mix, from what little birdies say."

Colts general manager Chris Ballard is widely regarded as one of the best (if not the best) GMs in the sport, and while his interest in Foles isn't confirmation that Ryan Pace made the right decision targeting the former backup-turned-Super Bowl winner, it certainly helps ease at least some concerns fans have about Foles.

The Bears confirmed this week that Foles and Trubisky are headed for an open competition for the starting quarterback job. It was an expected result from the trade for Foles that sent the Jaguars a fourth-round pick, a relatively high price to pay for a player destined for the bench.

While Chicago may want Trubisky to be the long-term answer behind center, the fact Pace hasn't committed to the former No. 2 overall pick's fifth-year option is more proof of how disappointing he's been after three years with the Bears.