Aside from a surprisingly strong season in 2018, the Chicago Bears have been one of the NFL’s most lackluster franchises over the last decade. In that 10-year span, the Bears made the playoffs just once, losing a wild-card game to the Eagles. They fell flat the next year, going 8-8 and failing to live up to the expectations of a strong season.
Nobody was quite sure how the Bears would perform this season. This got even more confusing when Chicago acquired quarterback Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars. So far, the move hasn’t paid dividends as they hoped. Let’s look at three reasons why the Bears’ Week 11 bye couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
The Bears must stop the losing streak
The Bears surprised many NFL commentators by getting off to a scorching 5-1 start to the season. It was the first time the franchise put together a 5-1 record since 2012, in the final year of coach Lovie Smith’s tenure. According to ESPN, with a start that strong, the Bulls had an 83.3% chance of going on to make the playoffs.
Those kinds of expectations were a little premature. Starting in Week 7, the Bears proceeded to compile a string of four consecutive losses, dropping them to 5-5 on the season. That skid completely changed the Bears’ playoff expectations. Current playoff odds now give them just a 36.3% chance of making it to the postseason, according to Football Outsiders.
As dismal as those odds may sound, Chicago isn’t past the point of no return. That’s why their Week 11 bye could prove so important, giving the team a chance to halt their negative momentum and reset their outlook. In many ways, the mental aspects of such a break can be just as beneficial as the physical.
The Bears need to figure out the quarterback situation
The Jay Cutler era officially concluded in 2016. Chicago was desperate to find their quarterback of the future. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears used their second overall pick to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He had a breakout season in 2018, leading the Bears to an 11-3 regular-season record while throwing 289 completions for 3,223 yards and 24 TDs, with a 66.6% completion rate.
But in 2019, Trubisky’s performance slumped in almost all categories. He was also sacked an alarming 38 times and posted a quarterback rating of just 42.6. The Bears were worried enough that they acquired the veteran QB Nick Foles in the offseason, announcing that Trubisky and Foles would engage in an “open competition” for the starting position.
That competition is still ongoing. So far, Foles has started seven games and Trubisky three. At this point, both QBs are dealing with nagging injuries. The problem is bad enough that the Bears reportedly hosted a workout with DeShone Kizer, who spent 2017 as the Cleveland Browns starter, and 2018 as a backup for the Green Bay Packers. The Week 11 bye gives the Bears a much-needed chance to figure out their dire quarterback situation.
The Bears must empower underperforming players
Quarterback isn’t the only position where the Bears have struggled this season. Numerous players across their roster are underperforming. If Chicago wants any chance of making the playoffs, they must spend time trying to empower those players. Wide receiver Anthony Miller is one such candidate.
Miller has been having a down season across the board. While some of the responsibility for that lies in the Bears’ quarterback issues, Miller has also been dropping passes at an alarming rate, and his yards after the catch numbers are way down. Another area where the Bears need to focus their energy is their defensive line.
Defensive end Robert Quinn and left tack Charles Leno Jr. have both been having awful seasons. Given Chicago’s ongoing issues at the offensive end of the field, they simply must tighten up their defensive efforts. Hopefully, the Week 11 bye will give them a chance to retool some of their schemes to get more from key players.