Subiect: In what has felt like an extremely quick season
Trey Burton Color Rush Jersey , the Chicago Bears find themselves heading into their final four games of the 2018 regular season.The good news? They are currently (8-4) and still hold a (1.5) game lead in the NFC North.The bad news? They are coming off a tough loss and now head back home to face an (11-1) Los Angeles Rams team that has been near impossible to beat.Much like their Week 11 meeting with the Minnesota Vikings (that also happened to be flexed into Sunday Night Football), this will be yet another good measuring stick for a team that is looking to go from worst to first in the matter of one season.The playoffs are coming quick and currently, the Bears are positioned very well. Even with a loss on Sunday, that still wouldn’t change. But it could make things a little more tight.With a big game on Sunday and plenty of cautious optimistic still in the air, let’s dive into Week 14’s mailbag.One could argue that Trey Burton’s lack of production over the past three games stems from a change at quarterback and that could be right. But even so, in Mitchell Trubisky’s last game against the Minnesota Vikings, Burton had just one catch for nine yards.Over his last three games, he has five catches for 37 yards and no touchdowns. While it’s not ideal, it’s also key to remember that the Bears offense features new primary pass catchers each week. Although I’m sure the quarterback situation has not helped, Taylor Gabriel has also seen peaks and valleys throughout the season as well.Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SportsI really think that more than anything, the Bears have plenty of weapons on the offense, and from a week-to-week basis it will just feature different players. Don’t be surprised to see Burton’s production spike back up over the next few games. So the short answer here would be it’s the design of the system more than the players. It’s not likely something that will change any time soon in terms of sporadic production from skill players in this offense.This is a good question and one that is somewhat hard to answer right now. Even so, I’m leaning toward not picking up Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option at the moment.That’s not because I don’t think he’s a player worth keeping around, but the price of this past year’s option for an edge rusher was $14.2 million for the 2015 draft class. That number will jump up slightly when looking at what Floyd will cost, so it will likely be over $15 million.A few things to keep in mind with this option. It only guarantees players that figure IF they get injured. So, it’s possible that they could opt to exercise that option and then pull it before next year’s free agency, if he’s healthy. The problem? 2018 would be the first year that he hasn’t finished the year on injured reserve, which makes picking up his option even more risky.If I were general manager Ryan Pace, I’d swallow my pride and roll the dice on Floyd by declining the option. Let him play out the final year of his rookie deal and assess the situation from there. He’s a valuable member of the defense, but heading into the final four games of the season, he has just two sacks. That doesn’t mean he’s been bad by any means, but you also don’t pay a non-sack artists that type of money, even for one season. Especially when you’ll likely have to work out some sort of team-friendly deal with Aaron Lynch in the coming months and have Khalil Mack making an average of $23.5 million-per-year.If the Bears finish the season on a (1-3) skid, it’s likely they’ll still make the playoffs. The problem? They’d likely be playing on the road to open up the wild card round and coming off a (1-4) stretch. That’s not exactly ideal on multiple accounts.I’d be very surprised if a (9-7) record won the Bears the division, which means they’d either be on the road against the Vikings or the winner of the NFC East (likely the Dallas Cowboys). That wouldn’t be a death sentence by any means Cody Parkey Jersey , but like most teams, the Bears have played much better at home.My best guess is that one win in their final four games likely gets them the sixth seed and they would play Minnesota in back-to-back weekends on the road. Another situation the Bears simply don’t want to be in.With all of that being said, I still think it’s more than realistic to expect a (10-6) finish and a home playoff game. Whether or not that’s hosting the Vikings is a different story, but it would be a much more ideal scenario for them heading into the playoffs.I absolutely think that Jordan Howard is playing in his last few games with the Bears. I’m sure that some may still disagree, but I simply don’t feel like Howard is a good fit for this offense and have had that feeling dating back to March.I think it’s becoming pretty evident that the light isn’t just going to click on for this team’s current running game. I also don’t think all of the struggles in the running game have been on Howard, but I do think they could benefit from having a more athletic back.As far as potential replacements go, I would assume that a well-priced free agent and/or a mid round draft pick would do the trick. I’m not sure Le’Veon Bell makes a ton of sense, purely based on financial ramifications.They could choose to sign a more affordable free agent like Tevin Coleman or even a guy like Mark Ingram, but only time will tell on that. There are two things I’m pretty confident in: Howard being dealt this off-season and Bell not being a Bear.I wouldn’t expect Trubisky’s best game on Sunday night. That is for sure. Whether that’s rust, the Rams defense getting better with Aqib Talib back or even the big stage of Sunday Night Football.With that being said, I do think that Trubisky’s health shouldn’t be a concern moving forward. Much like Allen Robinson and Mack a few weeks back, the Bears chose to play it safe, which means the second-year quarterback should be as close to 100% as one could be coming off an injury.The Rams have an excellent front seven. So the Bears will have their hands full, especially on the interior. Unlike Chase Daniel, Trubisky’s athleticism should play a big role on Sunday night’s game and should allow him to escape some of the pressure Wade Phillips and his unit will bring.The same as it did heading into the season. I’d be shocked if he was back next year. He’s been a healthy scratch more than he’s played and general manager Ryan Pace made it pretty evident they had little faith left when they choose to spend big resources on a trio of receivers this past off-season.It’s unfortunate for Kevin White, but at this point it’s time for the Bears to cut bait and move on.I’d still be surprised to see Vic Fangio actually land a head coaching job in the NFL, personally.Over the past few years, I have spoken with a few people that have all echo’ed the same thing. While Fangio is a very good coordinator, his personality and age don’t exactly make him a sexy head coaching candidate. Couple that with the league wanting offensive minded candidates and it doesn’t bode very well for him, period.By the off-chance he does land one of the many jobs that will be upcoming (good for him if he does), I’d assume that Todd Bowles and even Mike Pettine (pending his future in Green Bay) would be two primary candidates that have relationships with head coach Matt Nagy.Pettine was someone who was a prime candidate this past off-season if Fangio was not retained and it’s been well documented the type of relationship Bowles and Nagy have. The good news? The Bears have a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, even if Fangio leaves, either one of these two names should be able to come in and find similar results. I’d be very surprised if Trubisky didn’t play on Sunday night.At least the way it was explained to me and how Nagy has approached it during his press conferences is that they’ve had a plan all along. That plan has been that they’d rather be overly cautious (sitting him at 80-90% against the Giants) than rush him back.I do believe he could have played in Week 13 with a full week of practice, but the Bears made the decision much earlier that they wouldn’t even let him throw the ball until this past Friday. It’s a decision many will question and that’s totally understandable but even so, the plan appears to always have been having him back for this Sunday night.The Bears’ outside linebackers are cornerbacks now It’s a well-known fact that to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots https://www.thebearsfanshop.com/Khalil-Mack-Jersey , you need to consistently get into his grill and get him on the ground. Now, that’s the same game-plan for most quarterbacks but it holds especially true for the future First-ballot Hall of Famer. To beat Brady, you must pressure and you must get him to the ground. Any other strategy is certain death against a player who has seen every imaginable defense deployed against him after featuring in the NFL for almost 20 years. So what did the Bears and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio attempt to do against Brady on Sunday? They had their superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack drop back into coverage a career-high 18 times, according to Pro Football Focus. Not to be completely outdone, Mack’s starting edge partner, Leonard Floyd, dropped back into coverage 13 times. The pair generated a combined two pressures on occasions where they actually rushed the passer. That’s not getting into Brady’s grill. Call me crazy, but if Mack is already rolling with a bum ankle, why have him move backwards against better offensive athletes? He’s either healthy enough to play or he isn’t. The decoy ideal doesn’t work if it’s not letting your talisman get back up to speed health-wise. Scheming a way to keep Mack on the field in a way he isn’t comfortable or healthy makes little sense. Fangio better find answers for a reeling defense soon, and it’s not in the form of not having Mack pin his ears back. Elsewhere defensively, the Bears’ tackling improved tremendously after their embarrassment to the Dolphins. Chicago missed just six tackles and no back seven defender allowed more than 55 yards in coverage. That includes Kyle Fuller, Roquan Smith, and Bryce Callahan, who all allowed four receptions each. Effort that will have to continue if the Bears are to get out of their first two-game losing streak of the Matt Nagy era. On the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots took note of Mitchell Trubisky’s struggles against pressure and ran with it. New England blitzed Trubisky 21 times on 58 drop backs, and Trubisky only went 5-of-20 for 36 yards on such plays. When the Patriots didn’t blitz, Trubisky completed 70 percent of his passes and averaged 9.9 yards per attempt.A lot of Trubisky’s struggles against the Patriots in particular was when going deep. On nine pass plays that went 20 yards or more, Trubisky was 1-of-9 for 54 yards. Essentially, the only time he found a Bears receiver downfield was Kevin White’s desperation Hail Mary. Otherwise, the young and rattled passer could not take advantage of chunk play opportunity after chunk play opportunity. The book is out on the Bears’ young quarterback and their defense, and they better adjust soon. Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for a host of other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.All numbers are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.