The Chicago Bears completed the 2018 regular season with a thorough dismantling of the NFC North divisional rival Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium to finish at 12-4 — the most victories for a Bears’ rookie head coach in franchise history. That 24-10 win coupled with the Philadelphia Eagles’ shutout of Washington at FedEx Field knocked Minnesota out of the final NFC Wild Card spot.
As the Bears prepare to host the Eagles at Soldier Field this Sunday afternoon in their Wild Card Round matchup, we hand out some hardware now that the regular season has ended. You can see my Midseason Award Winners here to see how things changed as the year went on.
I just tweeted about it:
Leonard Floyd sacking Aaron Rodgers with the clock winding down at Soldier Field, prancing towards the Green Bay sideline, pointing at his wrist to signal "Your Time's Up", and then doing Rodgers' Discount Double Check. https://t.co/niWDxRVgVd
— Dhruv Koul (@DhruvKoul) December 30, 2018
Midseason Winner: Prince Amukamara’s pick-six of Russell Wilson against Seattle
Honorable Mentions: Mitch Trubisky touchdown pass to Trey Burton against Green Bay at Soldier Field, Eddie Jackson pick-six against Minnesota, Eddie Jackson pick-six in Detroit on Thanksgiving
The Bears lost four games this year with three of them occurring on the road (two in overtime). I’ve gotten over the Green Bay loss in Week 1 a little bit thanks to the Bears’ victory against the Packers at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North. The loss to the New York Giants was also ugly, but that occurred on a sloppy day and with Chase Daniel starting at quarterback. So now, I’d have to say the entire fourth quarter and overtime period in Miami. Describing that loss still hurts today. I don’t think I need to go back and re-hash it. Luckily, no real harm came of it when talking about the Bears’ season as a whole.
Midseason Winner: Randall Cobb’s 75-yard TD to put the Packers up 24-23 in Week 1
Honorable Mentions: Alec Ogletree’s pick-six of Chase Daniel, Odell Beckham Jr.’s TD pass to Russell Shepard, Kevin White getting stopped at the 1-yard line against New England
Offensive Player of the Year
What makes this so interesting is that most of the team’s production came from so many different players. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller all contributed evenly in the passing game. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen both proved effective in the offense, with Cohen being a mismatch everywhere. Mitch Trubisky really stepped up in the second half of the year to show marked growth and improvement, especially in the final three games of the season.
That said, I’ll have to go with Tarik Cohen because Matt Nagy has turned him into a lethal weapon and defenses still have no idea how to game plan for him. I’d also like to give a special shoutout to the offensive line. They have been phenomenal all year, even with Kyle Long out.
Midseason Winner: Tarik Cohen
Honorable Mentions: Offensive Line, Allen Robinson, Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard
Defensive Player of the Year
It is Khalil Mack. He changed the entire complexion of the NFC. There is a fool-proof argument to be made that he should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and should even garner votes for the MVP. I agree with both notions. This one is wrapped up. Enough said.
Midseason Winner: Kyle Fuller
Honorable Mentions: Akiem Hicks, Fuller, Eddie Jackson, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan
Rookie of the Year
The entire draft class, essentially, has been excellent. Roquan Smith has been wonderful alongside Danny Trevathan, leading the Bears in tackles and showcasing his signature instincts and sideline-to-sideline speed on a weekly basis after not participating in training camp.James Daniels stepped in at left guard and DOMINATED in both pass protection and run blocking, helping to shut down Aaron Donald as well. Anthony Miller leads the Bears in touchdown receptions. Bilal Nichols has been outstanding in the DL rotation, showcasing great instincts, a quick burst, power, and run stuffing and pass rushing ability. They’ve all been magnificent. I’ll have to go with Roquan Smith though, unsurprisingly.
Honorable Mentions: James Daniels, Anthony Miller
Most Improved Player
Most would say Mitch Trubisky deserves this award given what he has accomplished this year especially after a rough start the first three weeks of the year and missing two weeks with a shoulder injury. Eddie Jackson also deserves a TON of praise for his absolutely brilliant play in the secondary — intercepting six passes and scoring three defensive touchdowns (another one was called back due to penalty in Arizona). Bryce Callahan has also been spectacular.
But I’m going to go with Kyle Fuller here. Why? Because he went from being a very good cornerback deserving of the large extension he got this offseason to being arguably the best cornerback in the entire NFL this season — coverage, ballhawking ability and tackling. He was absolutely sensational this year and likely deserves to be paid more than the contract he got. It’s great to see players go from OK or good to very good. It’s even better to see them go from very good to elite/best in the NFL.
Honorable Mentions: Trubisky, Jackson, Callahan, Bobby Massie, Cody Whitehair
Most Valuable Person
I don’t see any reason to change this from the Midseason Award winner in Matt Nagy, the Bears’ brilliant head coach who has meant everything to this team. He broke the record for most wins by a rookie head coach, he stepped on Minnesota’s throat to kill them off in a game that meant almost nothing to Chicago, and has made football an absolute joy to watch in Chicago again. The ClubDub videos are everything to me and fans across Chicago.
I could listen to Matt Nagy talk about fluid dynamics. https://t.co/qMP2vVonl0
— Dhruv Koul (@DhruvKoul) November 5, 2018
He’s incredible, through and through.
Midseason Winner: Nagy
There were a few … the Tampa Bay game was the first game where the Bears put together an entire, complete performance to thoroughly crush an opponent. The Buffalo game was where the defense humiliated an offense to the Nth degree. The Minnesota game at Soldier Field was flexed to Sunday Night Football and was where the Bears announced themselves to the skeptics as true contenders. The Los Angeles game was where the Bears announced themselves as one of the few elite teams in the NFL. The Green Bay game at Soldier Field vanquished their Aaron Rodgers demons and clinched the NFC North for the first time in eight years. The Minnesota game at U.S. Bank Stadium showed they could handle a playoff atmosphere against a desperate team, on the road, with nothing to play for and physically dominate them anyway …
… That said, yeah, I think I like the Minnesota win in Minneapolis the best. So the Week 17 game at the Vikings wins.
Midseason Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers game
Honorable Mentions: Green Bay Packers game at Soldier Field, Vikings game at Soldier Field, Rams game at Soldier Field
I think it’s fair to say the Miami Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium was the worst of the season, given the fourth quarter of that game was the “Worst Moment” ‘winner’ up above.
The Bears are NFC North champions, the three-seed, and hosting a playoff game in the Wild Card round exactly one year (to the day) they fired John Fox. It’s just remarkable. This season has been one for the ages — and though they have a good chance at the Super Bowl due to their defense, regardless of what happens in the playoffs, this has been one of the most fun seasons of my lifetime in any sport I follow. Enjoy this.