It was another winless week for the Chicago Bears as they fell to 0-3 in a blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The offense struggled without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Alshon Jeffery, failing to score a single point while being the first team in 35 years to punt the ball on all 10 of their offensive possessions.
While this was widely regarded as a rebuilding year, this is not the start the team was hoping for. The Bears have finished their tough three-game stretch to open the season but injuries at crucial positions have given them little hope for victory.
Let’s take a look at the aftermath of an 0-3 team looking toward the future.
1. “With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft the Chicago Bears select…”
Too soon? Some say yes, others say no. Ultimately, this team is nowhere near a playoff unit but it still remains to be seen if they are bad enough to “earn” the first overall selection.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Bears wind up with the first overall pick. Who do they take?
Far-too-early draft projections have Cal quarterback Jared Goff as the majority vote, but names like Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, Ole Miss defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche, or even Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook are not all that far behind.
Final Verdict: Too soon. As fun as it is for a fan of a struggling team to start dreaming of a top draft pick, we're just three games into a season where two of their top offensive weapons have hardly seen the field.
2. “Are The Chicago Bears tanking in 2015?”
After a rough 0-3 start, first-year general manager Ryan Pace made two trades on Monday, dealing outside linebacker Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers and inside linebacker Jonathan Bostic, the club’s 2013 second-round pick, to the New England Patriots for a pair of sixth-round picks.
With more trades expected as a result of players not fitting the new system, the emerging narrative is questioning whether or not the Bears are indeed “tanking” in Pace and head coach John Fox’s first year at the helm?
Final Verdict: No, the Bears are not tanking. The NFL is a win-now league and new regimes aren’t afforded the time to slowly rebuild a depth chart. Pace was left with an old roster that lacked talent but he knew that coming in and he surely understands the small amount of time he has to turn the Bears into a playoff team, or else his job will be on the line.
Each sport has different guidelines to a rebuild and while the hometown Chicago Cubs spent multiple years stockpiling young talent and rebuilding through their farm system, Pace will not have that luxury, as his window for success is much smaller.
Pace has said he will try and build his team through the draft, so expect veterans and out-of-place personnel to be shipped out for late-round draft picks in the upcoming draft. It’s really his only shot at a quick turnaround.
3. Will Jimmy Clausen Start Week 4?
All eyes continue to focus on Chicago's quarterback position. Only this time, the microscope is not on Jay Cutler.
Sports talk this week has revolved around the performance of Jimmy Clausen against the Seahawks in Week 3. The former Fighting Irish product was 9 of 17 for 63 passing yards in four full quarters of football.
It has become very evident that Clausen will not mirror the performance of former backup Josh McCown.
Instead, offensive coordinator Adam Gase attempted to dominate time of possession by running the ball and keeping the ball out of Clausen’s hands. After just seven total first downs and 10 punts, the question many are asking is: “Will Clausen start against the Raiders this week?”
Final Verdict: Fox was non-committal as usual when talking about his starting quarterback for Week 4 during his Monday press conference but don’t rule out Cutler coming back to make the start.
Cutler was spotted Sunday during pre-game warmups running from sideline-to-sideline and doing walkthrough-speed work for about 10 minutes before heading back to the locker room and eventually not playing.
If Cutler can’t go, the Bears may consider giving last year’s sixth-round pick, former San Jose State signal caller David Fales, the start against Oakland.
Only time will tell but with Alshon Jeffery expected back, Cutler may not be too far behind.
What to watch this week:
- With Pace in selling mode and the Bears as a franchise in a full rebuild, it’s reasonable to expect a few more moves within the coming weeks and maybe as early as this week.
- What’s Kyle Fuller’s status after a solid Week 3 performance? Can Fuller continue to develop? Against the Seahawks, he allowed one catch on two targets with a pass defended and much better overall coverage. He will need to build on that outing this weekend.
- Who starts opposite of Pernell McPhee at outside linebacker? Allen is gone and Willie Young is coming off a healthy scratch in Week 3. Lamarr Houston has gradually seen more snaps since Week 1 and Sam Acho saw significant reps last week. The depth chart has Acho with the first team but we’ll see how the snaps are distributed Sunday.