Week 11

Studs and Duds from Bears' season-ending Week 11 loss to Rams

Studs and Duds from Bears' season-ending Week 11 loss to Rams

The Chicago Bears fell to 4-6 after losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 17-7, in Week 11's Sunday Night Football. And while there may be a mathematical possibility for the Bears to make the playoffs, it's likely around 1 percent. 

It's time to accept the harsh and painful reality of the Bears' 2019 season, one of the most disappointing and shockingly bad years this franchise has endured in a very long time. 

Heartache like this is often the result of unrealistic expectations to begin with. Were the Bears really prepared to make a Super Bowl run with a second-year head coach and a third-year quarterback who still wasn't a finished product? The defense certainly appeared ready for a special season, but there was never the kind of overall team balance to make this year's goals a reality.

So here we are. With six games left on the schedule, the Bears are three games out of a wild card spot. The offense is still a mess and the defense is steadily getting less reliable.

Chicago managed just seven points against the Rams on Sunday night while the defense allowed running back Todd Gurley to eclipse 100 total yards for the first time since Week 1. And then there's the whole kicking situation.

Here are Week 11's Studs and Duds:

Stud: LB Roquan Smith

Smith led all Bears defenders with 11 tackles and an interception. He didn't play a perfect game and often got bullied on the second level when the defensive line couldn't keep him clean, but the sideline-to-sideline burst that made him a first-round pick was on display for four quarters. 

Dud: K Eddy Pineiro

Pineiro left six points on the field for the Bears with two killer misses early in the game. In fact, those misses seemed to take the life out of Chicago's offense. Pineiro hasn't been good the last two weeks and even though Nagy said the Bears aren't looking to bring in competition, it doesn't appear Pineiro is the long-term answer.

Stud: SAF Eddie Jackson

Jackson was playing noticeably faster Sunday night and had one of his best plays of the season when he penetrated the backfield for an explosive tackle for loss. He ended the game third on the team with six tackles and looked like he got some of his mojo back.

Dud: RB David Montgomery

Montgomery hasn't had any help from the offensive line or play-calling this season, but at some point, he needs to flash the ability to pick up more yards on his own. He managed just 31 yards on 14 carries and his longest run of the game covered just five yards. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about Montgomery's future, but it's time for him to prove he can really be a special running back.

Stud: RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen made the most of his workload against the Rams. He had 14 touches for 74 yards and a touchdown and looked explosive along the way. An argument could be made that Cohen should've received the lion's share of the carries Sunday night. He was simply more effective.

Dud: Offensive line

It's become glaringly obvious that the Bears' offense is hindered by the problems along the offensive line. Aaron Donald didn't do them any favors; he embarrassed every Bears lineman he faced. And while that's a pretty common occurrence for Donald, it only accentuated the need for Ryan Pace to pay close attention to the position group this offseason. 

Bears' tight ends invisible once again in Week 11 loss to Rams

Bears' tight ends invisible once again in Week 11 loss to Rams

When the Bears hired Matt Nagy as head coach in 2018, the vision was that he'd bring to Chicago much of what he learned during his time as Andy Reid's offensive understudy in Kansas City. He was supposed to be the Bears' version of Doug Pederson, who like Nagy was a Reid disciple with the Eagles and Chiefs from 2009-2016.

Pederson won the Super Bowl in his second season as Eagles coach. Not so much for Nagy.

The Lombardi Trophy isn't the only difference between Pederson and Nagy since becoming head coaches. Pederson, much like Reid, has the luxury of a superstar player filling the role of one of the Reid offense's most critical positions: tight end.

The Eagles field Zach Ertz. The Chiefs have Travis Kelce. Meanwhile, Nagy and the Bears have Ben Braunecker?

Braunecker was the only tight end to record a reception in Chicago's 17-7 loss to the Rams Sunday night. And it was just one catch for eight yards. 

Trey Burton was placed on injured reserve (calf) after Week 10's win over the Lions; it brought an end to a brutal season for last year's free-agent prize. Burton's 2019 will finish with just 14 catches for 84 yards.

Remember: Burton is the player who Ryan Pace and Nagy dubbed as Chicago's version of Ertz and Kelce. 

Ertz has 55 catches for 621 yards and two scores while Kelce's registered 56 catches for 741 yards and three scores so far this season. 

Burton will enter the third year of a four-year, $32 million contract in 2020 and might be too costly for the Bears to cut loose this offseason. He'll cost the team $7.5 million against the cap if they decide to part ways. An argument can be made that he's been limited by injuries all season (he's played in just 50.1 percent of the team's snaps this year) and deserves another shot to prove he's the kind of playmaker he was signed to be. At this point, there may not be much of a choice.

Former 2017 second-round pick Adam Shaheen has been a massive bust. His career with the Bears has been defined by a series of nagging injuries. And even when he's been healthy, he's played like 'just a guy.' He has one year left on his rookie contract but doesn't appear likely to factor into the position moving forward.

Even if Burton remains on the roster next year and Shaheen is given another chance to develop, Pace has to make tight end a priority position over the next few months of roster reconstruction. There will be some intriguing Day 2 prospects in the NFL Draft, like Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, and veteran options like Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald should find themselves on the open market in free agency. At least one of those avenues should be explored.

Sunday night's disappointing and likely season-ending loss was the result of a year of underachievement by the Bears. And no position has underachieved more than this tight end group. 

Bears' playoff hopes dashed in Week 11 loss to Rams, so what's next?

Bears' playoff hopes dashed in Week 11 loss to Rams, so what's next?

The Bears' 2019 season all but came to an end Sunday night after falling to the Los Angeles Rams, 17-7, in what amounted to another lackluster performance by an offense that climaxed late in the fourth quarter when Matt Nagy pulled Mitch Trubisky for Chase Daniel.

Nagy said after the game that his decision to pull Trubisky was related to a hip injury he suffered a few series earlier. But social media lit up with speculation that the Bears finally decided it was time to move on from the franchise's most costly asset.

Whether Nagy and the Bears are being honest about Trubisky's health will be revealed in time.

It seems more likely that it was injury-related considering Trubisky had one of his better performances of the season, even if his final stat line (24-of-43, 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) doesn't reflect it. He was victimized by several drops.

But we've been down this road before. Another loss followed by an optimistic message from Nagy about the character in the locker room and the ability to continue playing hard in a season with nothing left to play for. Nagy said the pieces are in place for the Bears to have a productive offense, but early-game failures and the inability to seize the moment -- like converting turnovers into touchdowns -- continue to haunt the team.

Sound familiar? 

At this point, it's time to look forward. With 10 games (4-6) and 11 weeks in the rear-view mirror, the roster's weaknesses have crystallized and the offseason needs have become clear. If this team really wants to be a Super Bowl contender, changes have to happen.

It starts at quarterback, where general manager Ryan Pace is facing the most difficult decision of his tenure in Chicago. Trubisky is his guy, the player he hand-picked to be this franchise's Drew Brees. He hasn't shown anything on the field in many of his 35 regular-season starts that suggests he can be relied on as a consistent NFL starter, let alone a Hall-of-Fame caliber player. So, the most important responsibility Pace must meet over the next several months is to protect Chicago's championship window by adding a quality veteran quarterback who can win games.

But it doesn't end there. The Bears can't just add a stop-gap; the veteran they add has to serve as a bridge to a bright future. Maybe that's Trubisky. Maybe it's a rookie added in the second round of April's 2020 NFL draft. The bottom line is Pace can't get this wrong and he can't let his ego get in the way. He has to be honest in his evaluation of Trubisky. His career and the future of this team depend on it.

The Bears' problems aren't limited to Trubisky, though. The offense as a whole needs rebuilding and the most logical place to start is the offensive line. The duo of tackles Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie have been solid in recent seasons, but as 2019 has shown, solid isn't good enough. The Bears have to consider adding a top-flight offensive tackle in free agency (if there's one available) and invest draft picks into the offensive line. No position is immune to an upgrade at this point. Pace has to hit the reset button and evaluate all five starters without being influenced by draft pedigree or contract status. 

As for the defense, the Bears don't need much of a facelift. But they do need a running mate for Khalil Mack. The pass rush has been non-existent since Akiem Hicks suffered an elbow injury in Week 5, and he was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter. Leonard Floyd has been a complete failure as a pass rusher and no other Bears defender aside from Nick Williams has had a pulse in that department since the loss of Hicks, including Mack.

The Bears mortgaged their future on Mack when they traded two first-round picks (and then some) for him at the start of the 2018 season. In order to get a maximum return on that investment, they need to provide him with some help. As much as he plays like Superman, he isn't a superhero. If the Bears don't find a way to generate pressure opposite him, he'll fail to live up to the expectations that came along with the trade.

And then there's the unavoidable problem at kicker. Eddy Pineiro is trending in the wrong direction after missing two kicks Sunday night, and while Nagy said the Bears aren't going to bring in any competition, they have to invest free-agent dollars on a proven veteran this offseason.

Sure, they tried that approach with the failed Cody Parkey transaction, but that failure can't make Pace fear a second swing. Too many points have been left on the field because of missed kicks. It's unacceptable and needs to be a priority, not a gimmicky series of tryouts.

Quarterback, offensive line, pass rusher and kicker. The Bears' season is over because of those four problem areas, and it may take more than one offseason to truly repair.

And we haven't even tapped into the coaching staff. That's for another day.

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