So how ironic is it that a Bears season that started with such high hopes will end with what is basically going to be an exhibition game, and for the first time as the team’s head coach, Matt Nagy will let most of his regulars play in one?
While not detailing his specific plans, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has confirmed he intends to treat this weekend something like a bye week and rest a lot of his starters ahead of next weekend's wild-card round.
So why will/should the Bears regulars get one last chance to pad their stats and hopefully impress the bosses, and if not theirs, potential future employers?
For starters, there is a very real difference between finishing 8-8 and 7-9.
Going out on a win and having that as your last memory of the season, and finishing .500 and being able to make a reasonable argument that one kick in the Chargers game and a running into the kicker penalty and horrible pick from Chase Daniel against the Raiders is all that kept you from 10-6 and maybe even a second straight playoff trip is a lot more palatable for players and coaches alike than a losing season.
It is also worth noting that going into this game the Bears under Nagy are 8-3 in the NFC North and stretching that to 9-3 with another win over the Vikings does help them continue building on one of their main goals.
Dominate your division and you’re well on your way to the playoffs almost every season.
Also extremely important, if Mitch Trubisky can finish with a big game, even though it will clearly be too little too late, it is still the best way for Trubisky to enter what will clearly be the most important offseason of his career.
Why does Nagy think the Vikings game is still really important?
“Opportunities, you never know when they come and go. We know that we have one more. You never know when it’s going to be the last one.
“So, to everybody else: we have one more chance. Let’s go do whatever we can to win.”
If Nagy is concerned about who the Vikings are playing and which guys they’re resting, he’s not letting on.
“Yeah, we’re just going about it – that’s not changing.
“If you hear they say that, we’re just going to go about it playing our guys and again, if there’s a position here or there that we feel like we want to take a look at, we might do that, but big picture wise, we’re going there to play.”
Until we see who the Vikings have on the field and how they compete, it will be difficult to gauge how much the Bears can really accomplish, but everybody on the field Sunday will be an NFL player, so you can’t undervalue what the Bears do in Minnesota either.
When Nagy says there’s a position or two we may want to take a look at, it makes the Vikings game huge for certain players.
There’s no question the Bears are going to be in search of a legitimate starter at tight end during the offseason, but J.P. Holtz, Jesper Hosted and Eric Saubert will be playing for their Bears futures against the Vikings.
With Rashaad Coward banged up, you can assume it will be Alex Bars in his spot fighting for that job next year, as opposed to the veteran Ted Larsen, unless they decide to give Bars some reps at left tackle, which would be really interesting.
David Montgomery has more to prove, and there is no excuse for the Bears to not give Ryan Nall a couple of series at running back before they go looking for a backup running back they will have to identify for next season.
Kevin Toliver, Michael Joseph and Duke Shelley are other youngsters the Bears need to find out about, and if they can sprinkle all these players on to the field, get a solid game from Trubisky and collect one more win, it could be a critical and great days work they can view as the beginning of the 2020 season as opposed to the end of 2019.