Season grade: Below average. The Bears lost 10 games for the fourth straight year. Even with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers hurt for much of the season, the Bears never contended in the NFC North. They have finished last in the division since 2014.
Season in review: The Bears opened the regular season with veteran Mike Glennon as their starting quarterback. That experiment lasted four games. He turned the ball over so much that head coach John Fox was forced to turn to rookie Mitchell Trubisky in Week 5. By that point, the Bears were already 1-3, but Trubisky — after losing his debut against Minnesota — led Chicago to surprise victories against Baltimore and Carolina that pushed the Bears to 3-4. That was the closest Chicago came to .500. The Bears went on to lose their next five, including a bitter 15-14 defeat to San Francisco on Dec. 3 when ex-Chicago kicker Robbie Gould accounted for all of the 49ers’ points. The Bears won a couple of meaningless games late in the year, but the 2017 season will be remembered as yet another failure. The Bears have now missed the postseason in 10 of the past 11 seasons.
Biggest play of the season: Fox’s regrettable decision to throw the challenge flag when running back Benny Cunningham dove for the pylon in Chicago’s 23-16 loss to Green Bay in Week 10. The officials initially ruled Cunningham down at the Packers’ 2-yard line, but upon further review, the call was changed to a touchback — Cunningham lost control of the ball when he made contact with the pylon — and possession was awarded to Green Bay. That embarrassing sequence for Fox summed up the afternoon for the Bears, who lost to Green Bay (minus Rodgers) despite having an extra week to prepare. The Packers were also playing on a short week.
He said it: “Look, I’m not here to watch celebrations. I’m here to block the defensive front and get yards. We got negative 6 [rushing] yards today. I could give two s—- about their celebration. If they want to go on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ that’s great for them. We’re trying to win football games. We didn’t do that today. I’m glad they’re well-choreographed in their dance routines — we got to find a way to win football games.” — Bears right guard Kyle Long after a bad loss to the Eagles on Nov. 26.
Key offseason questions
Biggest draft need: The Bears can’t be too picky. They need impact players on both sides of the ball. Specifically, general manager Ryan Pace is likely to target a pass-rusher, wide receiver, quarterback, offensive tackle, guard and cornerback — starting cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara are both unrestricted free agents.
Free-agency targets: The Bears are probably going to have to overpay for a wide receiver after they allowed Alshon Jeffery to leave last year via free agency. Chicago needs so much help at wideout that it will likely double-dip in free agency and the draft. The Bears have to find another backup quarterback, too. Glennon is likely gone after he collected $18.5 million guaranteed and Mark Sanchez‘s contract is about to expire.
Teaching Trubisky: All signs are pointing to the Bears parting ways with Fox after the season. He would leave Chicago with a 14-34 record. It’s likely the Bears would pursue an offensive-minded head coach to help develop Trubisky. The most important offseason priority is pairing Trubisky with the right offensive coaches. Trubisky scratched the surface in 2017, but for the quarterback to take a leap in Year 2 like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, he needs to be in the right scheme and coached by the right people. The Bears absolutely must upgrade Trubisky’s supporting cast, but it all starts with coaching. Ideally, the next Bears head coach — if Fox is fired — will have a strong offensive background.
Count on Cam? The Bears will be in better shape at receiver if Cameron Meredith makes a full recovery from the catastrophic knee injury he suffered in the preseason. The arrow was pointing up for Meredith, who had a breakout season in 2016 with 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. But it remains to be seen when Meredith will be cleared to return. Former first-round pick Kevin White is also under contract (fully guaranteed) for one more season, but he’s played in only five career regular-season games. The Bears can only pray for better health in 2018. In addition to Meredith and White, Long, Leonard Floyd, Jerrell Freeman, Quintin Demps, Zach Miller, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young were among Chicago’s preseason projected starters who finished the season on injured reserve.