Bears end of season grade, C+
The Bears finish the season 5-11, and go winless against the NFC North. Despite the up and down season they finished two games better than they did in 2016, but still face plenty of question marks going into the offseason.
This team is better than they were last year, and appear to be moving in the right direction. Sadly, the Bears seemed set back by the coaching and play calling in 2017. Although they struggled mightily at times they also showed signs of growth and success. Mostly in two of their three phases, defense and special teams.
The Bears forced a league low 11 turnovers in 2016, but re-tooled their defense and doubled their turnover output this season.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Bears play this year was the pass defense. They ranked top 10 in sacks, passing touchdowns allowed and passing yards per game.
During the season the Bears held more opposing quarterbacks to zero passing touchdowns games—Cam Newton, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Jimmy Garoppolo and DeShone Kizer—than allowing multiple touchdowns games—Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford twice, according to a Dec. 31 report done by Five Three Sports.
When squaring up against opposing rushing attacks the Bears were equally as impressive. The Bears blanked opposing running backs allowing only one 100 yard rusher and one multi-touchdown game, Latavius Murray with 111 yards and 2 touchdowns in week 17, according to the report.
Offensively the story isn’t nearly as pretty. The Bears sit near the bottom of the league in most of the major categories, and averaged less than 18 points per game for the second straight season.
Chicago only had two 300 yard passing games this year; however, quarterbacks in those games threw two touchdowns and committed six turnovers. Moreover, Bears' quarterbacks combined for 10 games with 200 passing yards or less.
Luckily the Bears rushing attack was better, but at times inconsistent. The Bears had four games with less than 50 yards on the ground, including a season low 20 yards against the Buccaneers week two.
Despite their struggles the Bears still had a potentially deadly rushing attack with Jordan Howard, who ran for 125 yards or more four times.
At times the Bears' offense would struggle to score, and relied on the defense or special teams. For the first time in years the Bears special teams had some punch. The kicker situation has been on going all season, but Cairo Santos, who was placed on IR, has shown success in his career and could fill the gap for season to come.
Pat O’Donnell has been a solid piece for the Bears and even had a passing touchdown week five. Tarik Cohen spearheaded the return game, which brought back two punts.
The Bears played well in special teams, defense and at times the run game. The one sore spot for this unit was the passing game. If the Bears had just thrown the ball more effectively they could have easily found a playoff spot.