- Players suffered through a sleepless night and a surreal first day of the offseason after an upset loss to the Eagles. But they also have plenty to look forward to in 2019.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Allen Robinson couldn’t sleep. He tried to relax but couldn’t stop thinking about the Bears' brutal one-point wild-card game home loss to the Eagles. It was the receiver's best game of the season and the most painful loss of his football career. The reality that the Bears' infectious 12-4 joyride had ended so abruptly had Robinson tossing and turning at 3 a.m. Even when his brain finally shut off for the night, the peace was fleeting. He woke up three hours later to the same thought: What now?
“Guys expected to come in here today for our normal off day, come in here for treatment, go for our lift,” Robinson said Monday while players cleaned out their lockers. “Not at any point in time did you think you would be here like this.”
On a dark and rainy Chicago morning, Players quietly shuffled in and out of the locker room as equipment staff checked off lists on their clipboards and cleaned up trash cans overflowing with pairs of worn out Nikes. Injured tight end Zach Miller still sported his full, ungroomed playoff beard as he left the locker room. He wasn’t ready to cut it just yet, because that would mean confronting the truth that the season is over.
Though players and fans might still be searching for closure, the good news for these Bears is that they will return for 2019 looking very much the same. Exuberant head coach Matt Nagy will be back for his second season, and all but one offensive starter is under contract through 2019 (right tackle Bobby Massie will be a free agent). Eight of 11 defensive starters are signed through 2021, and this offseason only safety Adrian Amos and nickelback Bryce Callahan will hit free agency. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio interviewed for the Broncos' head-coaching job on Monday.
Kicker Cody Parkey’s job is certainly in jeopardy, though Bears players continue to defend their teammate against criticism. Running back Tarik Cohen posted a message on his Instagram story Monday morning: “Disrespect Cody round me and it’s up.”
Parkey’s double-boink was not really a fluke—it was the sixth time he’d hit the uprights on a missed kick this season, and his eighth missed field goal attempt. On Monday, the NFL officialy changed Parkey's missed field goal to a blocked field goal—upon further review, Eagles defensive lineman Treyvon Hester tipped the ball. Parkey was not available to reporters Monday to address it. He left the facility before the open locker room media period. Parkey signed a four-year, $15 million contract with $9 million guaranteed last March and if the Bears release him, it will cost the team more money than to keep him. It’s likely that general manager Ryan Pace will bring in kicking competition, and after such a disappointing season, the Bears may decide to cut their losses.
Robinson spent a long time speaking to reporters, still trying to process the loss Monday morning. He’s already looking forward to OTAs. Last year, with a new offense and Robinson among the new faces, they started with the basics, “vanilla stuff,” Robinson says. This year, they can pick up where they left off for the most part. 2019 will also be the first time quarterback Mitchell Trubisky starts a season without a new system to learn, and Robinson is excited to continue developing chemistry with his QB. The two had their best performance together on Sunday, and Trubisky’s best throw of the game—and possibly the season—was a 25-yard back-shoulder throw to Robinson that put the Bears in field goal range for a chance to win the game. While taking a shot, Trubisky dropped the ball into the Cover-2 hole perfectly, just beyond the reach of Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox. “That was a big boy throw,” says Miller.
Robinson might toss and turn for the next few nights while getting used to the offseason routine. But eventually sleep will come, and if this team stays healthy, these Bears will be back.
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1. The Packers continue the trend of young offensive assistants becoming head coaches. Green Bay will hire former Titans offensive cooridnator Matt LaFleur, age 39.
2. Bruce Arians's interview with the Buccaneers included a trip to a local hospital for a physical. Arians, 66, has had kidney cancer and prostate cancer.
3. The Eagles have not forgotten that the Saints ran up the score on them earlier this season.
4. After a dramatic week in Pittsburgh, JuJu Smith-Schuster will take Antonio Brown's spot in the Pro Bowl. Brown will miss the game with an injury, and Smith-Schuster was the first alternate.
5. It's finally official: Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins declared for the draft. He's the consensus top quarterback of the 2019 class.
Read this, and now imagine a world with Trevor Lawrence as Bill Belichick's next Tom Brady.
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