Bears

Bears finish historically bad season with expectations that John Fox stays as coach

Bears finish historically bad season with expectations that John Fox stays as coach

MINNEAPOLIS – First, settling any questions about 2017… .

"I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year," wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said after the Bears’ 38-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Of course Jeffery didn’t say who exactly the “we” was that he was referring to, and he is headed toward free agency after his franchise tag expires. But for now he’s a Bear, and he was asked about “this team,” meaning the Bears, so take that as him handicapping his current team’s chances this year.

Now, there’s also the matter of who will coach the Bears to that Super Bowl, but indications continue pointing to that being John Fox.

So, pulling the camera back to take in the much bigger picture after Fox finishing his first two Bears seasons a combined 9-23.

Jay Glazer out at FOX Sports reported before Sunday’s kickoff that Fox would indeed be back in 2017 as Bears head coach. And everything from GM Ryan Pace supports the conclusion reached here over the recent past that the Bears will not be making another coaching change.

Speaking with Bears announcer Jeff Joniak on WBBM radio before the game, Pace was clear that on strategic matters, beyond the obvious disappointments of this season, Fox has gotten the Bears turned around culturally and moving in a direction the organization wants.

“In order to develop these younger players, you really need a coaching staff that’s on board with preparing them and with playing them,” Pace said, “and I think John’s done a good job in leading our team and his staff in assisting that development.

“I also think he’s done a good job of instilling the right culture we want in our locker room, and those aren’t small things. The change of culture, that’s extremely difficult. But I think if you get it right, with the foundation of our roster, you can really build on that.”

Whether a turnaround can come sooner rather than later, “we’re on the right course,” Pace said. “I think you see how quickly teams can flip in this league.”

Fox has been part of the NFL long enough to know that kind, even supportive words are hardly conclusive. But he has said privately that he wants to see this thing through, and he reaffirmed that on Sunday.

“I haven’t, at the end of the day, I’ve never worried about job security and I’m not about to start now,” said Fox, adding, “when you have people who look at things logically, you usually come to the same conclusion.”

And right now, Pace and Fox are looking at the situation with some of the same logic, factoring in franchise direction and player development more than win totals even over a two-season stretch, the first in Fox’s 28-year career that he’s been part of two consecutive losing seasons at any level.

“It’s definitely a job I want to finish,” Fox declared.

Which is precisely what the leaders in his locker room want to hear.

“I love coach Fox,” said defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “I never saw him in despair. He’s put together this team, wants to see it successful and was fighting tooth and nail to make it successful. We never saw any, ‘Oh, well… .” We never saw that. And when you see that kind of thing from your leader, you can’t help but want to play harder for the guy.

“One of the reasons I felt so welcome here was John Fox’s personality. It was refreshing for a coach to have that swagger, that air around him.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Said linebacker Willie Young: “As long as we have the kind of leadership we have in this locker room, we’ll be all right… . There’s a lotta upside here, lotta upside here.”

And finally, some game stuff… . (sorry, have to do it)

The Bears’ 38-10 loss to the Vikings Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium really was neither surprising or likely consequential, beyond securing the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft for the Bears. It finished an 0-8 season on the road for the Bears, a venue where decent teams play .500 or better, and it completed the year of futility with seven losses in the eight games since the mid-season off week.

All of which are the kinds of things that comprise elements of a 3-13 season, the worst win total for a 16-game season since the NFL went to 16 in 1978 and matching the second-lowest win total for any season of any length since the franchise was part of beginning professional football in 1920.

The specifics of this Sunday were pretty simple. The Bears turned the football over five times – three Matt Barkley interceptions, a Jeremy Langford fumble, a Bralon Addison muffed punt – to leave them with 14 giveaways in the last three games (five to Washington, four to Green Bay), vs. one takeaway, a meaningless end-zone interception of Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford by cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc.

Turnover ratio, specifically the lack of takeaways, were a season-long problem, but “the last two games it became problematic,” said Fox.

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

bears_offense.jpg
USA Today

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

If not for upset Colts fans following the retirement of Andrew Luck, the Twitter mentions of Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit would be a war zone of angry Bears fans who read his NFL predictions for the 2019 season.
In the latest print edition of the magazine, Benoit projects Chicago to finish 7-9 this year — last in the NFC North.
https://twitter.com/EikeyX/status/1165415967905787904
His NFL predictions don’t have a web version as of yet, but he sees the Minnesota Vikings winning the division and taking the No. 3 seed in the playoffs at 11-5. The Green Bay Packers finish second at 10-6 with a wildcard spot, and even the Detroit Lions end up ahead of the Bears at 9-7.
https://twitter.com/jbleiweis12/status/1165020706721214467
Benoit’s analysis is based on expecting a step back from Chicago’s defense that led the NFL in 2018. He also foresees “mixed results” from Mitchell Trubisky during his second season in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Benoit ranks the Bears quarterback, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all outside of the top 20 position groups in the NFL, with the offensive line ranking 10th. He still likes the front seven as the best unit in the league, but he sees the secondary as average at No. 17.
He’s not the first analyst to forecast regression for the Bears this season, but not many have gone as far to put them at the bottom of the division after last year’s 12-4 breakout.
The pitchforks and torches may fly off the shelves faster than Sports Illustrated magazines in Chicago this week.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano ‘will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan’

chuck-pagano.jpg
USA Today

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano ‘will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan’

The entire NFL is still reeling from the Andrew Luck’s bombshell decision to retire from football.

The story that overshadowed the Bears third preseason game in Indianapolis has the whole league reacting to the bold move from one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game.

Former Colts head coach and current Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano issued a statement Sunday on the player he drafted No. 1 overall in 2012.

“Our friendship extends well beyond player-coach and I wish him, his beautiful wife Nicole and their growing family nothing but the best,” Pagano said. “I will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan.”

Pagano and Luck combined to go 43-27 over five seasons together. The head coach saw his quarterback through abdomen and shoulder injuries that eventually cost him the entire 2017 season and led to Pagano’s departure.

Luck, of course, was by his coach’s side when he battled Leukemia in 2012.

The quarterback’s retirement ultimately comes down to his health, and Pagano knows better than anyone how Luck battled through issues the last seven years.