MONSTER’S MASH: Learning and winning don’t go together in 2019
LAKE FOREST – Let’s face it, the fact that the Bears are at this point is figuratively and literally a major disappointment.
When fans looked at the Minnesota game on December 29th, many hoped it would be only to get the starters one final tune-up before the playoffs. Instead, it’s only for pride for the Bears, who do have an 8-8 season to play for against the Vikings on Sunday.
But that’s not really going to console the team and fans who believed this Bears’ squad had a shot for a trip to Miami back in September. Breakdowns across the board led to an inconsistent season from the Week 1 opener against the Packers to the crushing by the Chiefs last Sunday night.
So Matt Nagy and his team are reflective as the disappointing season has come to an end. Gone is the shine of the 2018 season where the coach brought a new enthusiasm to a team that went 12-4 as legitimate doubt about the coach’s regime has crept in.
Yet he’s trying not to classify it as a completely lost season, but rather a difficult learning experience as he heads into his third season in 2020, with the hope of finding that path to get to the promised land at that time.
“We know what our big-time goal is, but we’ve learned a lot too this year, just how to go about doing things,” said Nagy when reflecting on his second season. “We know we want to get to this thing as soon as we can.”
MITCH CAN’T WAIT TO GET THINGS GOING
If there is anyone that would like this season to end quickly, it’s the man taking the snaps behind center to start out for the 15th and final time this season.
In his previous 13 games and one drive against the Vikings this season, Mitchell Trubisky’s inconsistency has put his status as the franchise quarterback in a bit of doubt. His numbers are down across the board – 62.6 completion percentage, 2, 931 yards, 17 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions – and his best games have mostly come against struggling teams.
Trubisky’s contract is up at the end of the 2020 season, and it’s unlikely the Bears would give him a major extension after a so-so year, so once the Vikings game is done, the quarterback’s got a lot on his plate.
“I feel like next season starts Monday, to some extent,” said Trubisky. “We’ll figure it out. I’ll talk to coach Nagy and Ryan see where we’re at and come up with a plan that will help me this offseason and just talk to people I trust that I know have my best interests at heart, and to have a good plan to make sure I’m getting better.”
A BENCHMARK FOR KHALIL?
Like the end of every season, there are a few statistics that players can get to add to their career resume, or perhaps kick in a contract bonus.
One that some could be watching this Sunday is Khalil Mack’s “sack” line, which could eclipse double-digits for a fifth-straight season. He’d need a sack-and-a-half to get that done for 2019, and barring an incredible game to finish the season, Mack will likely fall short of his 12 /12 total from a season ago.
With Akiem Hicks out of the lineup, the linebacker has faced double and triple teams all season long, which has contributed to a bit of drop in his production. Yet that’s irrelevant to Mack, who didn’t get that fired up about having a shot to reach double-digit sacks yet again.
“It means something, but at the same time, it’s a whole other mindset that I’m in right now at this stage of my career as far as wanting to play in the playoffs and get to a championship,” said Mack when asked about the shot at the sack total.
STAT OF THE WEEK: 2
The number of major statistical categories that Trubisky has seen progress in during the 2019 season. That would be interceptions (10, from 12 in 2018) and fumbles (1, compared to 5 last season).