For the Chicago Bears, it has been quite the roller coaster ride over the last 5 years. Ryan Pace became the franchise’s General Manager, a new head coach (twice), a trade involving two first-round picks, and a 2ndoverall pick at quarterback. Despite all of this, the team has still yet to become an annual contender in the NFL. The 2020 season has been one of uncertainty, and the up and down nature of the franchise was put on display for all to see. At 8-8, the Bears managed to make the playoffs for the second time in three years due to an extra playoff spot implemented in a COVID-19 season. Normally, a playoff spot would be something to cheer about. For many Bears fans, it’s just another reason to believe the organization will roll it back with the same people who have produced nothing but mediocrity over the last five seasons. So, what has gotten us to this point? Where did it start, and where did it all go wrong? In this section, we’ll review the main storylines of each of the last five seasons for the Bears and preview what the future holds next season.
Record: 6-10, 4th in NFC North
After the firing of general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman after a horrific 2014 campaign, the team hired former New Orleans Saints director of player personnel Ryan Pace as their newest general manager and former Denver Broncos head coach John Fox to the same position with the Bears. Fox’s hiring marked the Bears’ third head coach in four seasons.
They would enter the 2015 season, hoping to improve their record of 5-11 from the previous season. The team got off to a really rough start, starting the season 0-3. Over their next eight, though, they would compile a winning record of 5-3, including a rare victory over their division rival Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they would lose their first three games in December and be eliminated from playoff contention after a Week 15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. On a positive note, the Bears did improve on their record after a Week 16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-21. They would lose their final game of the year to the Detroit Lions and finish 6-10 and last in the NFC North.
The Bears were more competitive in 2015 than in 2014, which showed promise with six of their ten losses by less than a touchdown. New coordinators Adam Gase and Vic Fangio helped revitalize both the offense and defense, respectfully. Under Gase, QB Jay Cutler threw a career-low 11 interceptions and had a 92.3 passer rating, the highest of his career. Fangio helped bring defense back to Chicago by allowing only 397 points after the previous two seasons saw the Bears give up franchise highs, including 442 in 2014. Injuries really hurt them this year, with only four starters playing all 16 games. The Bears also went 1–7 at home in 2015, the worst home record in franchise history. This was also the first time since 1973 that the Bears failed to win a home game against a division opponent. The Bears had one Pro Bowler: OL Kyle Long.
Record: 3-13, 4th in NFC North
After only one season, offensive coordinator Adam Gase was hired as the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins on January 9, 2016. Two days later, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was promoted to offensive coordinator. After showing signs of progress in Fox’s first season with the team, the second season saw the Bears hit rock bottom. They once again suffered an 0-3 start to the season, and injuries really crushed any hopes the team had. They had an NFL-high 19 players on injured reserve at the end of the season, showing just how hard the injury bug hit them. QB Jay Cutler suffered multiple injuries and ended up being out for most of the season, which resulted in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley making most of the starts throughout the season. They finished with a 3-13 record, their worst since the NFL moved to a 16-game season in 1978 and their second-worst record of all-time only behind a 1-13 1969 campaign. The Bears also went 0-8 on the road for the first time in franchise history. After the season, Cutler was released and initially announced his retirement from the NFL, but he later signed with the Miami Dolphins. The Bears had two Pro-bowlers in 2016: RB Jordan Howard and OL Josh Sitton.
Record: 5-11, 4th NFC North
This was the Bear’s third and final season under head coach John Fox. The Bears improved upon the previous year’s 3–13 record, finishing 5–11, but failed to make the playoffs and suffered their fourth consecutive losing season. This would be the Bear’s first season since 2008 that Jay Cutler wasn’t the starting QB of the team, ending an 8-year era in Chicago. Instead, they decided to pick up former Buccaneers’ QB Mike Glennon in free agency and traded up to the number two overall pick in the draft to select QB Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Glennon started the first four games of the season but was benched for Trubisky after a 1–3 start. Entering the bye week at 3-5, the Bears looked poised to flirt with an 8-8 record and have their first non-losing season in four years. Unfortunately, things went south quickly, and the Bears were eliminated from playoff following a Week 13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. They would end up finishing with a 5-11 record. Not a single Chicago Bear made the Pro-Bowl in 2017, and it would be the first year since 1969 that they failed to defeat a single division opponent. After three years of failing to produce a winning season, Fox was fired the day after losing to the Vikings 23-10 in the season’s final game.
Following head coach John Fox’s firing, the Bears began their search for their next head coach. After interviewing several candidates, including their own defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they decided to hire Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to try and right the ship. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains left to take the same position in Miami, and the Bears replaced him with former Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich. 2018 would seemingly prove a turning point for the franchise, as it was their first winning season since 2012. They ensured improvement on their 5-11 record of 2017 in a Week 10 victory over the division rival Detroit Lions. Two weeks later, they would secure their eighth win of the season against the Lions, ensuring that the Bears would not have a losing season for the first time since 2013. With a Week 14 win over the red-hot Los Angeles Rams, the Bears secured their first winning season since 2012. A week later, after a rare win over the dreaded Green Bay Packers, they clinched their first playoff berth and division title since 2010. They finished the season 12–4 with a win over the Minnesota Vikings. The season would ultimately end in disappointment, as they lost to the defending Super-Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild-Card round. They allowed getting into the playoffs by defeating Minnesota in Week 17. They lost the game 16-15 on January 6, 2019, on kicker Cody Parkey’s infamous “double-doink” missed field goal that hit the crossbars twice before failing to go through as time expired. The Bears had a ton of Pro-Bowl players this season: FS Eddie Jackson, CB Kyle Fuller, DE Akiem Hicks, OT Charles Leno Jr., OLB Khalil Mack, KR Tarik Cohen, QB Mitchell Trubisky, and C Cody Whitehair. Four team members were named to the AP First-Team All-Pro team: Mack, Jackson, Fuller, and Cohen.
The 2019 season marked the Bear’s 100th anniversary as well as the NFL’s. Off of a 12-4 season in which they had 8 Pro-Bowl players, expectations were extremely high in Chicago for the first time in a decade. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos. The Bears replaced him with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. This was head coach Matt Nagy’s second season with the team, and the presumption was that QB Mitch Trubisky would build off of his 2018 season and become more worthy of a second overall selection. Despite a 3–1 start, the Bears embarked on a four-game losing streak, starting with the Oakland Raiders in London. After losing to the Eagles to fall to 3-5, they got back on track by winning four of their next five, but it would not be enough to match their 12-4 record of 2018. A Week 15 loss to the Packers, coupled with a Vikings defeat of the Los Angeles Chargers, eliminated the Bears from postseason contention. The Bears finished the season a very disappointing 8-8 after such high preseason expectations.
This was the Bear’s 100th season playing in Chicago and their 101st overall. Matt Nagy entered his third season with the team after having an up and down season in his first two. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was fired after dismal offensive performances the previous year. Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator after being in the same position for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017 and 2018. Despite starting the season 5–1, the Bears lost their next six games, dropping them to 5–7 after a Week 13 loss to the Detroit Lions. They would snap that losing streak with a win over the Houston Texans the following week, beginning a three-game barrage of victories that returned the Bears to playoff contention entering the final week of the season. From Weeks 13 to 16, the Bears scored 30+ points in each game, the first time they have had such a streak since 1965. After yet another loss to the Packers in Week 17, the Bears finished the season at 8-8, just as they had the year prior. Despite having that same record, they clinched a playoff spot for the second time in three seasons via tiebreaker against the Arizona Cardinals, who lost the same week to the Rams. The 2020 Bears became only the third team in NFL history to have a six-game losing streak during the regular season and qualify for the playoffs since the 1970 merger, joining the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and 2014 Carolina Panthers. They had one 1st Team All-Pro: KR Cordarrelle Patterson.
2021 Season Preview
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants
The Chicago Bears will play their 102nd season this upcoming season in 2021. Since 1971, they have played at Soldier Field, an American football and soccer stadium located in the Near South Side of Chicago, close to Downtown. It has a football capacity of 61,500, and it is the oldest stadium in the NFL. Soldier Field was designed in 1919 and opened on October 9, 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium. The name was changed to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925, as a memorial to U.S. soldiers who had died in combat. Its formal dedication as Soldier Field was held during the 29th annual playing of the Army-Navy Game on November 27, 1926.
Green Bay Packers
Playing the Packers at Lambeau Field has been a death sentence for the Bears going all the way back to when Brett Favre first arrived with the team. Here are scarce wins, and I don’t see that changing until Aaron Rodgers retires or leaves Green Bay. Chalk up an L.
For some strange reason, the Bears have demolished the Vikings on the road in Matt Nagy’s tenure as head coach, going 3-0. As long as Kirk Cousins remains the quarterback in Minnesota, I have no reason to doubt they could get it done again in 2021. Fly the W.
Matt Patricia is gone, so a sure win has now turned into uncertainty for the Bears. The other Matt in Detroit could be traded this offseason, so it’s hard to predict what this matchup will look like next season. I’ll give the Lions the benefit of the doubt because they fired Patricia and say they split games in 2021. L.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are another team that is highly toxic to pick on or against because they tend to have very unpredictable performances week to week. That being said, they have a better roster overall and a better coach. Not sure about the QB, though. Either way, hard to see the Bears winning in LA, where the Rams play better football. L.
Another extremely tough matchup for the Bears is playing in one of the toughest places to play in football. I’m assuming the 12th man will be back by late 2021, and I like to look at glasses half full. The Bears might keep it close, but I like the better QB to pull one out late. L.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Tom Brady returns for yet another season in the NFL, I think he gets his revenge on the Bears in Tampa. After a narrow victory over Brady in 2020 at Soldier Field, the Bears captured their first win over Brady in six tries. They’ll move to 1-6 after 2021 and probably for all time. L.
This game will be one of the few wins the Bears will get on the road next season unless they have significant roster changes. The Browns have a good head coach and running attack. I’m still not sold on Baker Mayfield, and the Browns defense is not good. I think the Bears can capitalize on a Cleveland team that is sure to regress at the dawg pound.
I think the Bears can win this game because I feel like the Steelers are massively overrated. However, the Steelers defense should force multiple turnovers against whoever the Bears have at QB, and I personally feel the doors will fall off in Chicago next season if they roll it back with Nagy and Pace. L.
Chicago Bears Schedule FAQ
Will the Bears play the Las Vegas Raiders in a 17-game season?
The NFL has recently discussed extending the regular season to 17 games instead of the traditional 16 games introduced in 1978 in 2021. If this actually comes to pass, the Bears would play the Raiders in the 17th game.
How difficult is the Bears schedule in 2021 compared to 2020?
The Bears will seemingly face a much more difficult season next year as compared to this season. They will face the NFC West, one of the best football divisions, while also facing a second-place team schedule instead of a third.
Win-Loss predictions for 2021?
I think if the Bears decide that a playoff berth in 2020 is enough to bring back with Ryan Pace, the wheels will come off of this puppy, and they have a dismal season. I have zero confidence in a GM who has had 1 winning season in 6 years.
Where did it all go wrong for the Bears?
Honestly, that’s hard to pinpoint. You could blame Ryan Paces’ selection of Trubisky over Mahomes and Watson, or Vic Fangio’s departure from the defense as to why they are playing so poorly. In reality, the Bears have been mismanaged for decades.