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Chicago Bears Week 18 Takeaways: The End is Here

The Bears capped off their 2021 season with a dreadful loss to the Vikings in the last game under Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace.
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Andy Dalton Bears Vikings

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune

It's over. It's finally over. The Chicago Bears wrapped up their 2021 regular season with a 31-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Chicago finished with a 6-11 record and in third place in the NFC North.

The Bears dropping this game Vikings ended their two-game winning streak. But, the loss has draft pick ramifications as well.

As it stands, the Bears' first-round pick in 2022 belongs to the New York Giants due to their draft-day trade last year. That swap brought Justin Fields to Chicago, a trade that the Bears and most Bears fans would make 10 out of 10 times. This is what the draft order for the first 11 picks looks like, according to Tankathon.com:

  1. Jaguars (3-14)
  2. Lions (3-13-1)
  3. Texans (4-13)
  4. Jets (4-13)
  5. Giants (4-13)
  6. Panthers (5-12)
  7. Bears (6-11) [to Giants]
  8. Falcons (7-10)
  9. Broncos (7-10)
  10. Seahawks (7-10) [to Jets]
  11. Washington Football Team (7-10)

Onto the loss itself. Simply put, it was a microcosm of the season and the now-fired Matt Nagy. For the last time this season, here are the takeaways from the Bears' Week 18 letdown in Minnesota.

Cairo Santos

This week, we're doing things differently because why not? Cairo Santos gets the distinct honors of the first mention. In the season finale, Santos drilled all three of his field goals.

The 30-year-old Brazilian kicker made 26-of-30 field goals (86.6%) on the season. Additionally, he made 27-of-28 extra points (96.4%). It's just a shade worse than his historic 2020 campaign.

Roquan Smith

Once again, Smith led the team in tackles. What else is new? He finished the game with six tackles and two solo tackles. On the season, Smith finished with the following stats:

  • Games Played: 17
  • Games Started: 17
  • Tackles: 153
  • Solo Tackles: 85
  • Assisted Tackles: 68
  • Sacks: 3
  • Passes Defended: 3
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Touchdowns: 1

Robert Quinn

Another game, another sack. Well, the box score gave him credit for a half sack.

Regardless, Quinn finished the season with 18.5 sacks and broke Richard Dent's franchise record, which is quite a feat.

Darnell Mooney

The second-year wide receiver had himself a game. Against the Vikings, Mooney hauled in 12 catches for 126 yards (10.5 avg) on 16 targets. His performance was the fourth of its kind this year and his 12 catches eclipsed his previous record.

Overall, Mooney eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. On the season, Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns. Here is the play that put him over 1K.

Mooney's achievement is a rarity in Chicago. Typically, wide receivers drafted by the Bears don't reach 1,000 yards often. The last time it occurred was in 2014 by Alshon Jeffery.

Cole Kmet

The second-year tight end caught four passes for 48 yards (12.0 avg) on five targets. Kmet finished the season with 60 receptions for 612 yards (10.2 avg) but had zero touchdowns. His season totals represent a significant step up from this rookie year, in which he caught 28 passes for 243 yards (8.7 avg) and two touchdowns. It's easy to overlook Kmet's impact when the overall offense is awful. However, his growth has been evident. Hopefully, under a new scheme and regime, the Chicago native can take off.

Andy Dalton

The $10-million man went out with a bang. Literally, the Red Rifle shot off and put up gaudy numbers. His final stat line read as follows:

  • Completions/Attempts: 33/48 (68.8%)
  • Yards: 325
  • Yards/Attempt: 6.8
  • Touchdowns: 1
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Sacks-Yards Lost: 7-59
  • QBR: 23.9
  • Passer Rating: 77.2

To Dalton's credit, he did throw a perfectly timed pass to Damien Williams on a wheel route. His lone touchdown of the day gave the Bears a 14-0 lead at the time.

Dalton's pair of late-game interceptions, one of which was a pick-six, changed the momentum. However, that wasn't the worst part of his game. The seven sacks he took were even more excruciating, as three of them came on fourth down. Of course, one of those fourth-down sacks occurred when the Bears were at the Vikings' one yard-line. Truly unbelievable. The one-year experiment of Andy Dalton in Chicago has come to an end, finally.

Overall, the veteran signal-caller finished the season playing in eight games and starting six. In those games, he posted the following numbers: 149/246, 1,515 yards, 8 TD, 9 INT. In addition, he took 18 sacks for 143 yards and posted a rating of 76.9.

David Montgomery

In the last game of the season, David Montgomery put up 79 all-purpose yards on 22 touches (3.6 avg). He had 20 carries for 72 yards (3.6 avg) and two catches for seven yards.

Defense: First Half

It was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Bears' defense gave the Vikings a hard time, only allowing three points. Here's how Chicago limited Minnesota through the first 30 minutes of play:

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  • First Downs: 4
  • Total Plays: 21
  • Total Yards: 87
  • Passing Yards: 62
  • Rushing Yards: 25

Additionally, the Bears limited Kirk Cousins to only 5-for-10 passing and 78 yards. Furthermore, they sacked him twice for a loss of 16 yards. In the run game, Dalvin Cook gained just 12 yards on six carries. Likewise, the Bears' defense also limited Justin Jefferson to 32 yards on two catches.

Defense: Second Half

The second half took a turn for the worse as the Vikings beat the Bears' defense like a drum. Sean Desai had zero answers and was dreadful after halftime. In the second half alone, the Vikings put up the following numbers:

  • First Downs: 7
  • Total Plays: 26
  • Total Yards: 244
  • Passing Yards: 165
  • Rushing Yards: 79

Minnesota scored 21 points on the Bears' defense thanks to three huge plays:

  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette 44-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins (6 plays, 75 yards, 2:36)
  • Justin Jefferson 45-yard TD from Kirk Cousins (6 plays, 75 yards, 3:02)
  • K.J Osborn 21-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins (6 plays, 87 yards, 2:49)

After halftime, Kirk Cousins posted gaudy numbers by going 9-for-12 and throwing for 172 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears sacked him once one time for six yards after halftime. Justin Jefferson popped off for 73 yards on three catches and added a touchdown in the final two quarters. Similarly, Dalvin Cook rushed eight times for 67 yards.

Defensive Backs

During this game, the Bears' secondary had a rough time. There were too many lapses for one's liking.

  • Jaylon Johnson not downing Justin Jefferson, only for Eddied Jackson to make a heads-up play
  • Marqui Christian deciding to take a nap on the field on a huge TD pass to Smith-Marsette
  • Eddie Jackson giving up on covering Justin Jefferson on a TD pass
  • Kirk Cousins and the Vikings constantly picking on Kindle Vildor

Offense

What's the point? Chicago's offense was bad yet again. It's the exact same story that's been running since Sept. 9, 2018. If you really need a recap of the offense, this lone tweet will sum up the day the Bears had.

Yeah, it was that kind of day.

Matt Nagy

What a way to go out for Matt Nagy. In a game that encapsulated his entire tenure as a Bears head coach, his team came out of the gate and punched the Vikings in the mouth. They were moving the ball with ease but settling for field goals. Eventually, the Bears found the end zone and even converted a nifty two-point try. Surprisingly, the referees only called two penalties on the Bears. So, Nagy had the team playing disciplined football.

But the team unraveled in the second half. The Bears' woes in the red zone continue as they went 0-for-2. They have no problem between the 20s but once they get in the red zone, everything comes unglued. To Nagy's credit, he was consistent throughout his Bears' tenure. That is, consistently mediocre.

Overall

The season is finally over. Thank goodness.

Most games were unbearable to watch. Yet we all continued to tune in because we love the Bears. It will be eight-plus months between now and the next meaningful football Bears game.

The Matt Nagy era is over. He went through five quarterbacks:

  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Chase Daniel
  • Nick Foles
  • Andy Dalton
  • Justin Fields

Not only, that but he wasted the defense's window. All in all, Nagy leaves Chicago with a 34-31 record in four seasons. In those four seasons, Nagy took the team to the playoffs twice (2018, 2020). He won the NFC North once and backed into a Wild Card spot the second time around. His overall record listed above doesn't include the 0-2 in mark the playoffs. At the time of the hire, Nagy seemed like a good choice. But after 2018, it all went down the drain. Maybe the Cody Parkey double doink in the Wild Card game broke him?

Nevertheless, there was immense fatigue on both sides. Now, the changes can finally begin. The only thing that matters going forward is building around Justin Fields.

What's On Tap Next?

Nothing, the season is over. Sit back, kick your feet up, and relax. It's been an exhausting, frustrating, and stressful season of Bears football. Enjoy some stress-free playoff football; you'll have enough to stress over as reports of Bears' coaching and general manager candidates flood in.

Be sure to tune into the Bears On Tap podcast this offseason for your football fix.

With that said, thank you all for following along with my weekly takeaways this season. It didn't go the way we hoped, but there's always next year. We'll be back at it next September. For the final time this season, I bid you adieu. Stay safe and be well.

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