Bears

Bears trying to avoid being road kill for all of 2016

Bears trying to avoid being road kill for all of 2016

One last time the 2016 Bears go into a game faced with a challenge, not to achieve something, but to avoid ignominy, in this case to stave off what would be the worst individual season in terms of wins and losses since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978.

It is not exactly the kind of goal teams set for themselves before a season. This year has been reduced to a final attempt to accomplish a feat that has generally eluded the Bears all season.

The 2015 Bears mysteriously struggled at home, with just one victory at Soldier Field while inexplicably playing to a 5-3 mark on the road – a success rate achieved only by playoff teams last year.

Only the Browns share the Bears’ level of being road kill at 0-7.

And yet the real point of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings matters less in the standings or even in any divisional rivalry, and more with how players are looked at beginning later in the week when personnel evaluations begin in earnest.

“I think these [Halas Hall] rooms don't look the same year to year,” said coach John Fox, himself subject to evaluation but expected to be given a third season to effect a turnaround for a franchise now missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season and ninth time in the last 10. “You know it's not a threat, it's not negative, it's just the reality.

“You know these guys have been doing this long enough even though we're pretty young. But regardless, they understand every one of these [games] is a resume and you know whether it's here or somewhere else. You know it's competitive, it doesn't stay the same, things change, there's drafts, there's free agency, there's just a lot of things that change. So you know they take every one of these about the same, it's another opportunity to perform and show what they’re capable of doing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

And the winner is…

After the rout at the hands of Washington last week, a game marked by a perceived lack of fire for the first time in quite some time, envisioning a victory over a better team in the opponent’s home arena, during a season in which the Bears haven’t won on the road, is too much of a longshot. The late-game scrappiness that marked Matt Barkley performances in his brief tenure was missing, and even when that has been present, the Bears still weren’t good enough to close the deal in the comebacks vs. Tennessee, Detroit and Green Bay.

Neither team is playing for anything beyond affirming their own professional pride and one last chance to impress the evaluators, or at least the ones still undecided about individual futures.

But the Vikings are simply better than the Bears, with a defense marked with more impact players than Washington’s, and Barkley was flummoxed by that group. The Bears were able to shut down Minnesota in the teams’ first meeting, but that was with Jay Cutler playing his best game of the few he did play in ’16, and Barkley does not threaten the Vikings with what Good Jay brought to bear on them.

The Bears’ season-long futility at generating takeaways has shown no signs of improving. Without that help from the defense, and quarterback Sam Bradford is among the NFL leaders in ball security this season, Bears are simply overmatched.

Bears 10, Vikings 21

View from the Moon ’16 record: 8-7

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan wonder if John Fox had a point about the Bears having the worst offseason in the NFL (1:00), then offer up some prop bets for the Bears in 2019 involving Eloy Jimenez's home runs and Khalil Mack's sacks (5:00), undrafted free agent rookies making the roster (10:00), when/if the Bears will cut a kicker during the season (12:45), running back production (16:30) and how many games Adam Shaheen will play (25:50).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

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USA Today

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

The Bears battle for the 53-man roster doesn’t have many contentious positions entering training camp.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy brought back largely the same roster from their breakout 2018 season, finding replacements for the few players gone in free agency.

Outside of kicker, the entire starting lineup is pretty much set for Week 1, and the main competitions to stick with the team are at the bottom of the depth chart.

It leaves the roster with no notable veterans that stand out as candidates to be cut. ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson was asked to name one for an article, and he couldn’t come up with any.

He mentioned Taquan Mizzell, who made the move from running back to wide receiver this offseason, but as Dickerson pointed out “Mizzell is hardly a well-known commodity around the league.”

Former third-round pick Jonathan Bullard hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but the Bears have seemed comfortable keeping him around in a backup role.

The Bears roster has very little fat to trim. The only other player who could potentially qualify is cornerback Sherrick McManis, since the team has so many young players at his position, but he’s been working at safety to increase his value, and he’s one of the team’s best special teams contributors.

The trim down from the 90-man roster shouldn’t have too many significant surprises, which is why so much of the attention this offseason continues to go to the kicker position.