The Bearsgab Chicago Bears Season End Review: The Running Backs

By Bryan Dietzler

Last time we looked at the quarterback position for the Chicago Bears. This time we will look at the players that the Bears had at the running back spot. We will see how they performed in 2017, what their stats were and what things look like for 2018.

Jordan Howard-Jordan Howard had another great season with the Bears although he was banged up a little throughout the year. He had a shoulder problem that forced him to try run a different way (lead with the uninjured shoulder), but he never gave up and never missed a game. He was rendered somewhat ineffective as the year wore on having good and bad games.

Howard still rushed for over 1000 yards and helped lead a potent Chicago rushing attack.

Altogether, Howard rushed for 1122 yards on 276 attempts for an average of 4.1 yards per carry. His average per game was 70.1.  He scored nine touchdowns. Howard also had 23 catches for 125 yards and no touchdowns. He did drop some critical passes.

Howard is going to be the starting running back again in 2018 barring injury. The Bears do need to give him some relief, however, so he doesn’t get beaten up so much. Chicago could help him out by finding another back that could carry the ball more or use Tarik Cohen more often. We will have to see what the new coaching staff the Bears just hired decides to do. But unless they think that Howard won’t fit the offensive scheme they put in, look for him to be the starter in 2018.

Tarik Cohen-Cohen burst onto the scene big in the Bears’ first game against the Atlanta Falcons and then had an up and down season. He wasn’t in at points where he should have been in the game. Sometimes, when he was in defenses figured out how to stop him. Cohen was a little hit or miss but he can be dynamic and a real asset to the team. That’s why they need to use him more.

In 2017, Cohen rushed a total of 370 yards on 87 attempts for an average of 4.3 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 53 passes for 353 yards and one touchdown. Cohen even threw a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a touchdown as well.

Cohen will be a bigger part of the offense next season now that new head coach Matt Nagy is on board. He could use Cohen similar manner as the Chiefs used Tyreek Hill. Expect a lot more quality action for him next season and making a bigger impact on offense.

Benny Cunningham-Cunningham had an interesting season. He spent some time on the sideline injured but when he was in the game, he had some strong contributions. Cunningham was an asset thanks to his ability to play special teams for the most part. His ability to catch passes and do some good with them was nice. But he signed just a one-year contract and so the Bears must decide if they are going to keep him or not.

In nine games 2017, Cunningham rushed a total of just 29 yards on nine attempts averaging .6 yards per carry. He caught 20 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Cunningham also returned kickoffs.

Keep an eye on what the Bears decide to do with Cunningham this offseason. Will they sign him to another deal or will they let him go? Is his value enough to keep him around or didn’t they get enough out of him to warrant bringing him back? Consider him a bubble player who may or may not be back with the Bears in 2018.

Taquan Mizzell-Mizzell saw just a little bit of action last year, in three games, but spent most of his time inactive. Therefore, it’s hard to know what the Bears have in him. Currently, he has two more years left on his contract. If the Bears were to let him walk, they would take a $555,000 cap hit. Not terrible. But you can bet that the Bears are going to try him out in training camp this summer and see how he works out.

Consider his ability to make the team in 2018 up in the air.

Don’t be surprised if Chicago decides to draft a running back in the 2018 NFL Draft. Granted it won’t be a high draft pick but they may be thinking of getting someone that can run in between the tackles with power, like Howard, to spell him and not have him wear out in games. They might be able to find a good undrafted free agent to do that too. We will have to see what they come up with.

Next season promises to be a strong one for the Chicago Bears’ running back spot. Expect to see some good things come out of it from all players involved. Hopefully, the new coaching staff will utilize the position effectively and help it improve. It could be a great year for Chicago running backs.

Report: Vic Fangio to Stay as Bears Defensive Coordinator

It’s been a busy day for the Bears, and now it appears that new coach Matt Nagy has convinced Vic Fangio to stick as the teams’ defensive coordinator.

There was rumors of a number of teams that wanted to speak to Fangio, but it looks like for now that he’s going to stick around in Chicago.

Bears Hire Chiefs OC Matt Nagy as New Head Coach

The Bears have their man, as they have named Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy their new head coach.

General manager Ryan Pace interviewed Nagy, 39, on Sunday, a day after the Chiefs’ loss in the wildcard round against the Titans. He replaces John Fox, who was fired a week ago after a 14-34 record in three seasons.

Nagy’s entire NFL coaching career has been spent under Chiefs coach Andy Reid. A record-setting quarterback in college at Delaware, Nagy started as an intern in 2008 for Reid’s Eagles. He followed Reid to the Chiefs, starting off as their quarterbacks coach in 2013 before being promoted to offensive coordinator last season.

After Delaware and before beginning his coaching career, Nagy played six seasons in the Arena Football League, throwing for 374 touchdowns and 18,866 yards. He led the Georgia Force to the Arena Bowl in 2005 and the Columbia Destroyers to the championship in 2007.

Chicago Bears Season End Review: The Quarterbacks

By Bryan Dietzler

The 2017 Chicago Bears were underachievers. They failed to win games that they should have won and fell flat in some of the other games they weren’t supposed to win. But this was a transition year for the Bears. They had some new faces in different places. Injuries took hold, again, and caused issues while the coaching staff didn’t use the weapons provided to them in the right way. And it showed in the standings.

This is the first in a series of position reviews that we will do to cover the Bears position groups following the close of the 2017 NFL season. We will take a quick look at each player and see how they did and where they stand heading into the next season regarding whether they will make the team and what their contract status looks like.

So sit back and enjoy this, the first in our series of positional reviews with a look at the quarterback position.

Mike Glennon-Just saying the name Mike Glennon can get you dirty looks from Bears’ fans. The Glennon experiment looks like it’s going to be one year and done. He was not the answer the Bears needed at the quarterback position, and after just four games, he was replaced with Mitchell Trubisky. He never saw the field again. Glennon’s lack of experience showed and his tendency to make mistakes was prevalent. His decision making was poor and his overall his play was difficult to watch. But he did not have the benefit of having good receivers which did make a difference. But Trubisky was able to do a little more with less.

Glennon signed a three-year deal with an “out” clause in it that would allow the Bears to be free from him after one season. They would not have to pay him any additional money. The problem is, the Bears paid him a lot of money up front. It can be a clean break. But will they break free from Glennon and lick their wounds or will they keep him around as a backup quarterback? Surely there must be better options out there for a backup quarterback?

I would think that Glennon would be gone by the time free agency hits unless the Bears think he’s a viable option as a backup. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with him.

Mitchell Trubisky-The young rookie had his debut this season looking hot and cold but that’s what you would expect out of him. We all knew going into this season that Trubisky didn’t have a lot of college starting experience. That scared a lot of people. Many people thought that the Bears would and should allow him to sit behind Glennon learning for a year then stepping in to start in year two.

But Glennon’s poor play forced the Bears to put Trubisky in starting with the fifth game of the season. They let him play the remainder of the year and he grew with each game he played. Had the Bears not handcuffed Trubisky and opened the offense up a little more he might have had more success. Now he is must learn a new offensive system and work with a new coaching staff. This could either set him back or propel him forward like the way it happened for Jared Goff this year.

We will see in 2018. At any rate, Trubisky is the quarterback of the future and the Bears should get a lot out of him. He’s already shown us a lot of promise and will continue to grow and develop into a strong quarterback.

Mark Sanchez-Sanchez never saw the field once this season and was consistently inactive on gameday. He provided some insurance in case of injury this season. However, injuries never happened at the quarterback position so he was not needed. It was the easiest money he will ever make. It’s likely he will be gone next year and possibly out of the NFL for good.

Next Up: The Running Backs

Bears Chatting with Vikings OC Pat Shurmur About Head Coaching Spot

Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is interviewing for the Bears’ coaching job, the Associated Press reports.

Shurmur could be a strong candidate considering the Vikings have an effective offense despite early losses of quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook on the way to the NFC North championship.

The Bears are looking to get the most out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Shurmur helped journeyman Case Keenum emerge as one of the league’s top quarterbacks after Bradford went down.

Shurmur was 9-23 as the Cleveland Browns’ coach from 2011-12. He returned for a second stint as Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator from 2013-15. He joined the Vikings as tight ends coach in 2016. He served as interim offensive coordinator for the final nine games that year following the resignation of Norv Turner and took over the job in 2017.

The Bears were meeting with Shurmur in Minnesota on Friday, one day after interviewing Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. Chicago also interviewed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Wednesday at team headquarters.

The Chicago Bears Final Game Thoughts

By Bryan Dietzler

The 2017 NFL season ended for the Chicago Bears as they lost for the 11th time in 2017 23-10 to the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears looked rather inept during the entire game. Their offense couldn’t get anything going while their defense was not able to stop Minnesota. The Vikings had something to play for in this game, but the Bears had nothing to keep them focused. The coaching staff did not do their job to keep them on task and help them at least make a game of it.

And now that coaching staff is gone.

The following is a look at some key points from the game and a little look ahead towards the future of our beloved Chicago Bears franchise.

Penalties

I hope that this is the last time that I have to talk about this. Once again, penalties killed the Bears. For the game, Chicago had ten penalties for 116 yards and these penalties were just a microcosm of what the Bears have been doing all season. Penalties have killed the Bears game in and game out. The coaching staff has a lot to do with that. But now, it appears that all or at least most of the coaching staff is gone so perhaps the new staff will be able to provide better instruction and discipline to help cut down on the number of penalties that Chicago has.

Someone must do something because the penalties killed the Bears in 2017. They lost games because of them. Hopefully, the new coaching staff will be able to right the ship and get them moving in the right direction.

Mitchell Trubisky

One thing that is nice about having a brand-new quarterback that has a lot of potential is that offensive coordinators, quarterback coaches, and even head coaches will flock to him and try to develop him into a star. Not only does that help the team but it helps their effort to get a good head coach. What’s needed is an offensive-minded head coach with a strong defensive coordinator. This coach should be able to bring in someone that will work well with Trubisky, a good quarterback’s coach, and offensive coordinator if you will.

The Bears have the tool by which they can develop their quarterback position into one of the NFC’s strongest in Trubisky. Now they just need to get him someone that will be able to teach him how it’s done, and he will be a star. You can see his potential. He’s going to be good but just needs someone to show him the way. He wasn’t getting that with the previous staff.

Of course, you can’t do much with him if you don’t surround him with the talent that he needs to succeed. Getting some help at wide receiver should be at the top of their list while getting the offensive line shored up should be a close second or tied for first in order of priority. It would depend on what kind of coach the Bears hired, perhaps, to see where they would want to start. General Manager Ryan Pace should be concerned about getting the need positions filled right before bulking up at some of the positions of strength. But above all else, he must take care of what his quarterback needs.

Hasta La Vista Foxy

I do want to say one last thing about John Fox. I know that many fans out there feel that he wasn’t the right or a good coach. Remember he had taken two other teams to the Super Bowl so he had some success before coming to Chicago. Perhaps his window for success wasn’t that big in Chicago. We do know that he didn’t have the coaching staff or supporting cast of players to be successful. However, Fox was not without fault. Challenge decisions and time management were his weaknesses. These often got the best of him.

But there was one thing that Fox did well and that was that he kept control of his players. Going from previous head coach Marc Trestman, who lost control of the locker room, to Fox was nice. The discord that leaked from the locker room in prior years didn’t come out with Fox. Perhaps there were no internal issues? The team seemed to be much more “together”. Let’s hope what Fox was able in team building carries over with the next coach.

More to Come

Stay tuned for a full season and player reviews on Bearsgab as the offseason begins. When a new coach is hired, we will be there to talk about it. Draft coverage will start soon as will free agency. Consider this a great place for you to learn more about the Bears’ offseason plans and what the 2018 season may bring.

Thank you for sticking with us all season.

Bears Part Ways with Head Coach John Fox

It didn’t take long into the New Year for the Bears to decide what to do with head coach John Fox, as today the team fired him after another tough season.

Fox lead the Bears for three seasons, but the team never reached the potential while Fox was head coach with the Carolina Panthers.

Fox led the Bears to a 6–10 record in his first season, only the second time in his career where he had double-digit losses. However, Fox finished his second season with the Bears with a 3-13 record, tied for the worst record for the Bears since the NFL changed to a 16-game season.

After a 1-3 start in 2017, Fox benched quarterback Mike Glennon in favor of rookie Mitchell Trubisky in Week 5.[16] The Bears finished the season 5-11. His overall record with the Bears is 14-34, which is the second lowest win percentage in franchise history.

The Chicago Bears versus the Minnesota Vikings Game Preview

By Bryan Dietzler

The 2017 NFL season will end on December 31st and see the 5-10 Chicago Bears take on the 12-3 Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis under the dome. The Bears are coming off a 20-3 win over the Cleveland Browns while the Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 16-0. The Vikings have won the NFC North and are looking for better playoff positioning, so they will have some motivation to win this game. The Bears have nothing to play for but pride and a possible strong sendoff for head coach John Fox.

Chicago is headed in the right direction but probably not headed the right way with the current coaching staff. They need a coaching staff that will be able to help develop quarterback Mitchell Trubisky while building up the defense making it one of the best in the league. The Bears need a lot of work done and it might take a couple of years to get them to where they need to be. But other teams have managed to turn things around in a short amount of time. Perhaps the Bears will be able to do that.

But right now, the Bears have one more game to finish and that’s against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s look at some of the numbers behind the upcoming game, see who has the edge and what the numbers mean.

Chicago Offense versus the Minnesota Defense

Chicago’s Passing Game versus the Vikings Pass Defense

The Chicago Bears passing game has been getting a little bit better over the last few games even though they have ongoing issues at wide receiver. Their passing attack is ranked 31st in the NFL getting 176 yards through the air per game. That is not great by any means but then when you look at what the Bears have to work with, it’s easy to see why they struggle.

Minnesota’s passing defense is holding teams to an average of 193.8 yards per game through the air which is 2nd in the league. So, it doesn’t appear that the Bears are going to have a lot of room to pass the ball Sunday.

The Bears do need to keep developing Mitchell Trubisky as much as possible even though it could be difficult Sunday. I had mentioned this last week but it’s worth mentioning again and that is that the Bears cannot afford to get Trubisky hurt. The Vikings will get after him and could sack him several times so hopefully, he comes out of Sunday’s game unscathed. If he doesn’t, Chicago’s plans for 2018 will be seriously affected.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bears will be playing with a patchwork offensive line. The offensive line they had I place didn’t do that well on Sunday against the Cleveland. With Minnesota being a much better pass rushing defense than any team they have faced, the Bears are going to have to make sure that they can keep Trubisky from getting blasted when he’s dropping back to pass. They need to keep him upright and healthy to keep him ready for better times ahead in 2018.

The Vikings pass rush and passing defense is fierce. The Bears probably will not be able to hold up to the test that it will present but remember this is a division game. Anything is possible when these two teams meet, and the Bears just might be up to upsetting the Vikings Sunday.

Chicago’s Rush Offense versus Minnesota’s Rush Defense

The Bears have made their mark rushing the football but have struggled lately. Perhaps it’s because of the changes that they have been forced to make on their offensive line. Running back Jordan Howard has not been that effective in recent weeks because of those changes. This has contributed to the inability of the Bears to rush the football and has caused them problems.

Right now, the team is averaging 117.2 yards per game which is 11th in the league. This number does appear a little deceiving especially since they haven’t rushed for that many yards over the past three weeks. Can the Bears pick it up and get something going against the Vikings?

The Vikings’ rush defense is ranked second in the NFL allowing just 87.1 yards per game. They should be able to stifle Chicago’s rushing and make the Bears one dimensional. That dimension, the passing game, may not even be able to gain much traction. The Bears’ offense may not have any dimension to it at all.

Chicago’s offense could be in a lot of trouble on Sunday and may not be able to get going. Minnesota could easily shut them down.

Minnesota’s Offense versus Chicago’s Defense

Minnesota’s Passing Offense versus Chicago’s Passing Defense

The Chicago Bears have a decent defense all season, but it doesn’t show with their record. Injuries have caused them some problems, especially up front and at linebacker so the Bears have been forced to plug in second and third string players to help fill in the gaps. This has not helped but despite that, the Bears’ defense hasn’t been terrible.

But how will they do against the Vikings?

The Vikings are averaging 238.2 yards per game through the air which gives them the 13th ranked passing offense in the NFL. Their quarterback, Case Keenum, has been good this season and has done well in Pat Shurmur’s offense. It appears that their offense is poised to do some good things in the NFL playoffs. They will try to use their offense to their advantage to get what they need out of a victory in Week 17 and get some needed momentum heading into the playoffs.

Chicago’s passing defense is ranked eighth in the NFL allowing just 213.1 yards per game. They are banged up and missing some of their key players but can still play. But it doesn’t look like they will be able to shut down a potent Vikings passing attack that features some good wide receiving and tight end talent. The Bears will have their work cut out for them on Sunday and may not be able to keep up with what Minnesota puts up.

But keep remembering the factor that these are division rivals, so anything can happen.

Minnesota’s Rushing Offense versus Chicago’s Rush Defense

Chicago has been up and down all season when it comes to defending against the run. The Bears are currently ranked 9th in the NFL allowing a total of 105.5 yards per game. Chicago has had games where they have allowed significant rushing yards. Still, for the most part, they have been able to stuff the run.

The Vikings are gaining an average of 120.7 yards per game on the ground which is good for 8th in the league. The rushing game for the Vikings could be huge in controlling the ball and the clock. The Bears need to put a stop to it and force the Vikings to pass the ball where guys like Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara can try to do some damage.

But, if you go by the numbers in this game, the Bears are going to struggle.

Summary

This game could either be a blowout or close as these two teams traditionally play one another tough. The Vikings have something to play for while the Bears are just trying to get something going at the end of a bad season. Will they be up for a fight or has the fight left them? I bet that the young guys are willing to put up a fight and try to stick it to the Vikings.

But they won’t be able to do much to derail the Vikings.

Minnesota is going to probably beat the Bears and send them out with a loss. After that, it’s almost certain that head coach John Fox will be fired, and the team will be looking for another coach. A loss would signal a miserable end to a miserable past three seasons. But is another new start going to reap rewards for the Bears? Or will they just keep on being bottom feeders in the NFC North?

Change is good. Let’s hope it’s good for the Bears.

Injury Report

Here is a look at the injury report for the Bears and the Vikings heading into Sunday’s game.

Chicago Bears

Tom Compton-OT-Compton has been dealing with concussion symptoms but practiced in full this week.

Bradley Sowell-OT-Sowell has a back issue and has been limited in practice. Consider him questionable for Sunday.

Bobby Massie-OT-Massie has not practiced this week with a knee injury and will probably be doubtful for Sunday.

Josh Sitton-OG-Like Massie, Sitton has not practiced this week and has an ankle injury. He is likely doubtful for Sunday.

Adam Shaheen-TE-Shaheen has missed some time with a chest injury and was limited in practice this week. Let’s see if he plays Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings

Kevin McDermott-LS-McDermott has a shoulder injury and has not practiced this week.

Trumaine Brock-CB-A foot injury has kept Brock out of practice all week. He may not play on Sunday.

Kyle Rudolph-TE-An ankle injury has kept him limited in practice. He could be a game-time decision for Sunday.

Shamar Stephen-NT-Stephen has not practiced this week due to an ankle injury. His status is up in the air for Sunday.

Terence Newman-CB-Newman had a non-injury issue earlier in the week but is practicing now.

Jerick McKinnon-RB-A shoulder injury has limited McKinnon and makes his status for Sunday up in the air.

Pat Elflien-C-A shoulder injury has made him unable to practice all week and he may not play Sunday.

Mike Remmers-OT-Remmers has a lower back injury but practiced in full this week. He should be a go for Sunday.

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