Bears

First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games. J.J.'s on Paternity Leave, so Bulls producer Rob Schaefer is filling in. 

Final Thoughts on Week 14

Rob Schaefer: The Bears took care of their business last Thursday against Dallas. Unfortunately, when the Sunday and Monday slate of games had concluded, they weren’t any closer to the playoff berth they — somehow — found themselves within shouting distance of entering Week 14. In fact, they’re now further away. 

Perhaps the Rams and Vikings felt the Bears nipping on their heels, because both teams were dominant on Sunday. The Vikings (behind three Danielle Hunter sacks) made David Blough look like… well, David Blough, in a 20-7 victory over Detroit. Expected, but a gut-punch nonetheless. Even more concerning was the Rams returning to their early-2018 offensive form in beating down the surging Seahawks 28-12. Per FiveThirtyEight, the Bears enter Week 15 with a 2% chance of making the playoffs.

Still, you have to feel good about the way the defense responded against Dallas after losing Roquan Smith (on top of the starters they were already missing), and Mitch Trubisky’s four-touchdown (three by air, one by ground) performance, moving forward. Even if they don’t make an appearance on Wild Card weekend, the Bears can still salvage something from the end of the 2019 season if Trubisky and others continue to progress.

Cam Ellis: Lots of players were good against Dallas, but the only real thought I've had that's lingered since last week's win is this: good for Trubisky. Beating the Cowboys doesn't – or shouldn't – change how the Bears feel about him as their long-term solution, but it was great seeing him have his first real, positive moment of 2019. For what it's worth, the loudest Soldier Field got all night was when Trubisky scored on that 23-yard scramble. Let's watch it! 

The place erupts when he's still 20 yards out. Who knows what happens at quarterback after these next three games, but given the type of guy the Bears say he is, and how hard he works, it was nice to see him succeed in a big moment. 

First Thought on Week 15 

Schaefer: Green Bay’s defense started the year stingy, but has faded against premier competition as the season has worn on (they’re currently 20th in in league in defensive DVOA). If the Bears can’t pull this one out (or those competing with them for the last wild card spot continue to win), the first place to look for silver linings will be Trubisky. Improvement on his stat line from opening night (26-of-45, 228 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) is requisite to taking anything positive from this game.

Ellis: Imagine if the Bears had literally anything but the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL. The good news is that the Bears get the toughest one over with first? They've won at Lambeau twice in 10 years, although if you've scrolled down this far I imagine I don't need to tell you that. It's hard to decide whether getting Akiem Hicks back is better for this team's performance or their attitude – he'll probably be at least somewhat limited physically, but just having him out there, especially without Danny Trevathan or Roquan Smith, gives the Bears that returning-cavalry vibe that always adds a little extra juice this time of year. Aaron Rodgers has gutted them too many times to not expect it as this point, but if the Matt Nagy Era Bears have shown anything, it's that they tend to rally well in these type of situations. They'll be a tough out at worst. 

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.