Are the 5-1 Bears still in there? Or is it all downhill from here?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bears need to get better production out of David Montgomery an the run game if they want to get back to being the team that started 5-1 instead of the one that's gone 0-4 since.

    The Bears need to get better production out of David Montgomery an the run game if they want to get back to being the team that started 5-1 instead of the one that's gone 0-4 since. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

 
By Hub Arkush
harkush@shawmedia.com
Updated 11/23/2020 7:49 PM

The Chicago Bears went back to work Monday after a four-day weekend away from the game knowing today is the first day of the rest of their lives.

Should the 5-1 Bears reappear and make a legitimate playoff run almost everyone who matters will be back. Should the 0-4 Bears still be hanging around Halas Hall then to use Matt Nagy's words, "everything's on the table" and there could be a lot more former Bears including players, coaches and front office folks by the end of February.

 

Which is more likely you ask?

Through the first 10 weeks of the season the defense is one of the best in the NFL, 6th in points allowed, 9th in total defense, 14th vs. the run but definitely trending better, 11th vs. the pass, 1st in 3rd down efficiency, 1st in red zone efficiency and 3rd in goal-to-go situations.

But as much as we may love this Bears defense it is just 16th in QB sacks with 21 and just 22nd in TO/TA ratio. While a lot of that is due to the offense's 14 turnovers, the defense's 11 takeaways rank just 19th.

Should the defense continue to play just as it has it's reasonable to assume the Bears win at least two or three more games.

But should it find a way to ratchet up the pressure and increase takeaways, they're capable of winning, four, five or even running the table.

Special teams are a mixed bag.

Cordarrelle Patterson is the best kickoff return man in the game, Cairo Santos is one of the league's hottest place-kickers and Patrick O'Donnell is having an excellent season -- his 20 punts inside the 20 are just one off the league lead and he's had just four touchbacks all year.

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But where the Bears have missed Tarik Cohen the most is in the punt return game where they are only 20th and quietly the Bears coverage units have really slipped, falling to 29th covering punts and 18th on kickoffs.

One thing to watch is significant improvement in punt returns and punt coverage could greatly impact field position and give a big assist to an anemic offense, perhaps adding a win or even two.

The offense has been historically bad when just average production should have won at least the Saints and Vikings games giving the season a whole different feel right now.

You already know the issues but let's document it -- 31st in total offense, 32nd in running, 25th in passing, 31st in first downs, 32nd in third-down efficiency, 30th in the red zone and 31st in points scored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What Nagy says must happen to get better right now is, "I don't care who we're playing the run game has to get better.

"You just see teams across the league that are able to establish the run, it helps open up other areas of the field.

"At the same point in time, I'd say with the passing game, whether it's pass protection, whether it's routes and details of the routes, it's really all of that coming together at the same time."

The constant has been the poor play of the offensive line and the quarterbacks.

Can that be fixed?

Nagy did point out, "You look at the first couple games, really the first three games, we were able to get that run game established and that helps out when you're able to get that going.

"And then we made the move at the quarterback position and we ended up struggling to run the ball against the Colts and Tampa Bay and for, again, different reasons."

Of course they were 3-0 in those games but let's be clear, Nagy was not laying it all at the feet of Nick Foles nor should we.

The bottom line is if Akiem Hicks' hamstring isn't serious and the offensive line continues to get healthier and just makes it to close to average there is hope.

While some believe the greatest hope might also require the last common denominator in the 3-0 start, a switch back to Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, Trubisky and hope haven't been synonymous for sometime and whether his shoulder would allow it or that's a bridge too far for Nagy remains to be seen.

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush

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