Hub Arkush: Why the next six games could be most important of Pace-Nagy Bears regime
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Hub Arkush: Why the next six games could be most important of Pace-Nagy Bears regime

Mark Busch – mbusch@shawmedia.com

Mark Busch – mbusch@shawmedia.com

Since the National Football League went to the current 12-team playoff format, a 10-6 record has been good enough to make the playoffs over 87 percent of the time, and 37 teams have made the playoffs with records of 9-7 or worse.

Of course, based on what we’ve seen from the Bears over the past seven weeks, only a fool would predict they are going to run the table or win five of their next six, and even if they did, what are the odds they catch 8-2 Seattle or 7-3 Minnesota?

The Bears are not going to the playoffs this season.

That said, it is still possible the next six weeks are going to be the most important period of the Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy regime, making it extremely important for any serious Bears fan to pay very close attention.

As the reigning NFL Executive and Coach of the Year, both are going to get a chance to fix what is currently broken.

At the same time, should they fail in 2020, they are both certain to be very much on the bubble at the end of next season.

What the Bears do over the next seven months to get back to where they were at the end of the 2018 season, how much players currently on the roster can improve in the next six games and roster decisions made in the next free agency period and draft are all worthy of our undivided attention.

The Bears' final four games are against likely playoff teams, so who better to measure what they currently have against?

It seems certain that Mitch Trubisky will be back to compete next season, and almost as sure that Chase Daniel won’t.

Based on what we’ve seen so far from Trubisky, the Bears have to enter 2020 with two quarterbacks competing for the starting spot and two who they hope can both be the future at the position, and at least one who becomes that guy.

Neither of those guys is Daniel, and what they see from Trubisky the rest of this season will determine how much the Bears need to invest in whomever gets Daniel’s roster spot.

Matt Nagy’s offense will never work with what the Bears have at tight end now, and that is why Jesper Horsted was activated off the practice squad this week.

Trey Burton can be a quality No. 2 or "U" tight end, but he hasn’t been so far. Horsted and Ben Braunecker are both also play the "U."

With Burton out, Horsted and Braunecker have six games to prove they can be better than him – in which case the Bears could waive Burton – or solid backups leaving the Bears one less spot to worry about.

It seems unlikely J.P. Holtz will be the Bears starting "Y" tight end next year, but he has six games to show he can be, or that he can at least be a quality backup.

Right now, the Bears' greatest need after quarterback is tight end, and the next six weeks will go a long way toward answering how they address it.

There is also a desperate need for improvement at left tackle and right guard.

Can Rashaad Coward be the man at right guard? Can LT Charles Leno get his head on straight? Will the Bears give Alex Bars a look out there or make the position an offseason priority?

Are David Montgomery, Anthony Miller, Javon Wims and/or Riley Ridley who we thought they were?

They haven’t been so far and they have six weeks to show they can be or the offseason shopping list could get a radical edit.

Where is Roquan Smith and what are the Bears to do this offseason about free agents Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski?

Should the Bears re-sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? If they don’t how do they replace him and are any of the young corners good enough to consider saving $8 million against the cap by letting Prince Amukamara move on?

Is Eddy Pineiro an NFL kicker?

If the Bears don’t get most or all of these questions right by next July, it could be rebuilding time all over again. Is anyone up for that?

Please don’t tell me the next six games don’t matter.

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