The Bears’ 2018 NFL season was both unexpected and memorable.
In Matt Nagy’s first season as Bears head coach, he lead Chicago to a 12-4 record, helped his team win the NFC North for the first time in eight years and rejuvenated an entire fan base that was in hibernation because of consistently disappointing and uneventful seasons.
Last year launched the beginning of “Club Dub,” a team celebration that occurred in the locker room after each Bears victory. 2018 also showcased what a modern offensive could do with Nagy’s creative twists. And, more importantly, last season re-introduced the city of Chicago to what it was like to be back in the playoffs.
Even though the Bears were knocked out in the Wild Card game from the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2018, all signs pointed towards this year being another memorable one for Bears fans.
The Bears came into the 2019 NFL season with a roster that could compete for a Super Bowl. With the league’s No. 1 defense, the reigning 2018 Coach of the Year in Nagy and quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the offense expected to take the next step in developing, there were valid reasons to consider the Bears a serious contender.
This season’s expectations only increased with this being the Bears’ Centennial Year of existence. To recognize Chicago’s longevity in pro football, the franchise organized the Bears100 Celebration Weekend. At the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., from June 7-9, Bears fans, alumni (including Hall of Fame players) and current members of the team gathered to celebrate the start of the 2019 season.
The hype for arguably the most-anticipated Bears’ season to date was established, and the fans and the organization alike seemed adamant that the Lombardi Trophy could realistically return to Chicago for the first time in 34 years.
Then the 2019 season officially started. In the span of 73 days, when the Bears kicked off the season against the Packers on Sept 5. to their most recent game against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 17, the Bears have — essentially — been eliminated from playoff contention.
After the 10-3 loss to Green Bay in Week 1, the Bears did manage to win three games in a row. Despite the wins versus the Broncos, Redskins and Vikings, the fan base was still skeptical of the team, and Trubisky was injured in the contest against Minnesota.
That three-week span turned out to be the high point of the Bears’ 2019 season and the last time, to this date, there would be consecutive wins in a row.
Scary Month of October
October is, of course, a month full of scares.
Whether it is seeing scary movies or going to haunted houses, there is plenty to be afraid of throughout the entirety of October. However, Bears fans couldn’t have anticipated the terrifying outcome their team would endure: losing every game (0-3) throughout the month.
The losing streak started in what was initially an exciting opportunity to play the Oakland Raiders in London, England. Though thousands of Bears fans were a part of a culturally-rich experience, seeing a game in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with thousands of international football fans, the 24-21 loss to the Raiders put a damper on the business trip over the pond.
After the Bye the following week, Chicago was embarrassed at home against the New Orleans Saints. That 36-25 loss put the Bears at 3-3 on the season, yet Week 8’s matchup with a struggling Los Angeles Chargers team provided hope that Chicago could get a much-needed victory.
Well, kicker Eddy Piñeiro’s right foot said otherwise, and his potential 41-yard game-winning field went left of the uprights, which dropped Chicago to 3-4, tying their total number of losses they had in 2018.
Luckily for the Bears, they would not lose any more games in October since their next game was on Nov 3. against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Over the next three weeks, the Bears would eventually lose to the Eagles, get a win at home against the Detroit Lions (which ended their 42-day losing drought) and then add another loss to the Rams. Naturally, the fans’ confidence in the team has fluctuated significantly throughout the course of the season.
Plenty of individuals can be blamed for what has transpired in Chicago, but two people have surfaced as the main reasons why the Bears are currently 4-6: Nagy and Trubisky.
Here is how Bears fans have gauged who is more to blame between the two.
This poll is for a class project.
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) November 16, 2019
Simply put, both Nagy and Trubisky have regressed mightily this season.
The second-year head coach has proven to be reluctant in adjusting his offensive game plan, especially when it comes to running the football, and he has made many head-scratching decisions. Trubisky, now in Year 3, is still making the same mistakes he was committing in his rookie season. Whether Trubisky simply makes the wrong read or badly overthrows his receiver, those have been a constant this season for the former No. 2 overall pick.
Along with the blame that seems to be going around like the common cold in winter, there have also been several questions pertaining to the future of this team. Just looking ahead to 2020, many fans and experts believe that Trubisky’s time in Chicago is done. The Bears will have the offseason to evaluate whether they bring the 25-year-old QB back for his fourth year, but moving on from Trubisky is a realistic option.
Just as there are questions revolving around the quarterback position, there are equally as many if not more questions about the future of the Bears’ tight ends. Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, the starters coming into 2019, were practically nonexistent this season. Burton was placed on inured reserve the day before the Rams game, and Shaheen has dealt with injuries all season and has been a healthy scratch on game days.
The defense, on the other hand, has been the only bright spot of this team. Even though defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s unit has not created as many turnovers this season (14 compared to 27 heading into Week 12 in 2018), the defense has done more than enough to help Chicago win games.
On special teams, Piñeiro clearly isn’t the answer to the Bears’ kicking problems. He missed two field goals in Sunday night’s loss to the Rams and has currently missed four of his last seven field goals.
Fans and Bears Bloggers Weigh in on the Bears’ Issues
Since the playoffs are laughably out of the question with six remaining games left in the regular season, the Bears’ focus will be oriented on continuing to develop their young talent.
That is what Bears fan Mike Schaefer will be watching for as the rest of 2019 unfolds.
For lifelong Bears fans, like Chris Piers, it hurts to root for a team that consistently falls short of expectations.
Piers highlights reasons for Bears struggles.
*Interview conducted and edited by classmate Sahil Gujarati.
DePaul students also shared their thoughts and concerns about their hometown team.
*Photo, audio and video edited by classmate Brett Balicki.
Finally, here is what two respected Bears Bloggers had to say about the disappointing 2019 season.
Everything was leading up to this being a good year … The way they ended last year in such a heart breaking fashion you figured it would really solidify this team and make them even hungrier to get to the next level. But none of that happened.” – Lester A. Wiltfong Jr., Windy City Gridiron Editor-In-Chief
I thought that this team would at the very least be a playoff team. The big stopping point, though, was Trubisky. Taking that huge step back was killer … I don’t think anyone could have expected for that big of a step back. This season has been a huge disappointment overall.” – Daniel DeYoung, Head of Football Content for From The Sidelines