Three Takeaways from Bears' season-ending loss to Vikings
|Monday, January 10, 2022, 12:45 PM- -|
It was a historic day around the League on Sunday as the first-ever week 18 of the NFL regular season unfolded. With many games having playoff implications attached to them, there were three OT games and plenty of excitement that left some fans heartbroken and some fans excited for another week of football.
Unfortunately for the Bears, their season has been over for quite some time, and they are now shifting their focus to the offseason and building toward next season. What that looks like at this point remains to be seen, but the bottom line is this team has a lot of tough decisions to make if they want to get back to winning games.
Even though the Bears finished with a 6-11 mark this season, they actually played pretty well the final month of the season, where they entered Sunday riding a two-game winning streak and looking to make it three-straight heading into the offseason. Things were looking promising for three quarters, up until the Vikings put the clamps down in the fourth to prevail 31-17 and end the Bears season.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Darnell Mooney reaches 1000 yards
In a difficult season for most fans to watch, there were some exciting performances to take note of. On the defensive side of the ball, you had Robert Quinn become the team's single-season sack leader, with fellow LB Roquan Smith setting the team record for sacks in a season.
On offense, fans got to witness Justin Fields, who appears to be the QB of the future, start most of the games this season. Although wins were hard to come by for him, he played well at times, but also struggled at times and will now shift focus over to year two of his NFL career. One offensive performance that might get lost is Darnell Mooney, who surpassed the 1000 yard mark in receiving on Sunday.
The now second-year player was the Bears fifth-round selection of the 2020 NFL draft and immediately showed potential last season. His mix of speed and route-running ability saw him emerge as the team's No.2 option last season, but it was this season where he turned heads. In a season where Allen Robinson appeared to check out, Mooney emerged as the team's most trusted option and surpassed 1000 yards receiving this year.
He accomplished that feat during the first half of the game on Sunday, and it was a number not many fans thought he would hit this year. Knowing that Robinson is on the way out this offseason, Mooney is now the team's No. 1 option and will be for the foreseeable future. He will make a nice combo with Fields for years to come, and those two will have fun together.
Who backs up Justin Fields in 2022?
It is no secret that Fields will be the starter next season, pending an injury or a significant trade being made. The big question and something the Bears need to figure out who backs him up. Andy Dalton signed a one-year contract this offseason and was announced the starter to open the season. After injuring his knee in week 2, Dalton lost his starting spot to Fields, but returned later in the season to reclaim that role starting seven games for the Bears this season.
He would make a great backup option for Fields next year, but expect him to look for a starting job at least one more time. That leaves Nick Foles as another option, and he would be a great veteran behind Fields. Foles started one game this season and led the Bears to a comeback win at Seattle. It is no secret that his tenure in Chicago has been a challenge, but credit for Foles for sticking around and battling through it.
It will be interesting to see what the Bears do with him this offseason. Essentially, they could keep him around one more season to ensure that Fields has a reliable backup in case something were to happen. However, they may be willing to let Foles hit the open market to see if a team will take a chance on him. In any capacity, the Bears will need to find a backup QB as they shift their focus to next season.
The end for Matt Nagy
With Black Monday set to begin, tons of coaches are suddenly looking over their shoulder when it comes to job security. One of those coaches is Nagy, who just finished his fourth season as Bears head coach, but third straight of .500 or worse. After going 12-4 in his first season, Nagy has failed to win more than eight games since and hit rock bottom this year, going 6-11.
He has been on the hot seat, and it appeared the Bears were ready to move on from him around Thanksgiving only to let him finish out the season. After his team won two of three down the stretch and looked much better in the process, some began to wonder if he did enough to save his job. I don't think that is the case as the Bears appear ready to part ways with Nagy.
Nothing has been made official yet, but you will get a sense of what this team thinks once Black Monday unfolds. If this is indeed it for Nagy, Chicago becomes one of the more coveted job openings on the market as they have a young QB to build around and plenty of talent across the board.
Update: Nagy has been fired on Monday morning.