With the Bears’ season crashing to an end with their playoff loss in New Orleans, it’s time to see what they can put together for 2021. This team needs more than some minor alterations after two 8-8 consecutive seasons. Here are seven big questions for the offseason:
The Bears’ season-ending press conference was ….
Pointless. George McCaskey essentially listed off every complaint about the Bears and agreed with them, but isn’t making any changes. Ryan Pace talked about how much he’s learned from his mistakes, but wouldn’t divulge those lessons. There was no real explanation for doing nothing and expecting that to solve everything.
Who should start Week 1 at quarterback?
Carson Wentz. If the Bears come back from the offseason with Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles as the presumptive starting quarterback, McCaskey might as well save himself the time and fire everyone on the spot. Wentz has some legitimately good seasons on his record, and the Bears might be able to get him without giving up a first-round pick.
Will they keep Allen Robinson?
They have to now. Letting Robinson leave in free agency would’ve been an obvious choice if the Bears were rebuilding, but how can they possibly claim to be making a serious push for the playoffs next season and let their best offensive player (by far) walk out the door? If worst comes to worst, they have to use the franchise tag.
The biggest name to get cut or traded this offseason will be …
Akiem Hicks — and that’ll hurt as much as any Bears departure has hurt in a long time. Hicks is still a great player and he’s far from done, but they just can’t afford him. He’ll have a $12 million salary-cap hit next season, or they can cut him for a dead-cap hit of $1.5 million. This is one ramification of Pace signing Robert Quinn to such a big contract.
Who was their MVP?
Robinson. Look at the Bears’ quarterback situation. Now look at Robinson’s production: 102 catches, 1,250 yards, five touchdowns. Case closed.
Who was their most disappointing player?
Fresh off signing a four-year, $58.4 million contract extension, the season didn’t go the way Jackson or the Bears wanted. He earned that money by being a dynamic playmaker, but that’s much harder to do with no pass rush and instability at linebacker and cornerback. With a great pass rush creating opportunities in the secondary, Jackson would return to being a takeaway machine.
Ryan Pace’s biggest challenge (besides quarterback) this offseason will be …
Reopening the defense’s championship window. Make no mistake: The Bears’ defense is still good. But it’s not elite anymore. They desperately need to crack the code on their pass rush, which will be even tougher if they have to cut Hicks.