Emma's Tailgater: Bears Have Questions To Answer

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
(670 The Score) Ryan Pace sat high above the Los Angeles Coliseum late Sunday night and watched his best plans coming apart. The 42-year-old general manager believed he set the Bears with a franchise quarterback to elevate a roster of talent. 

Pace has been proven wrong.

The Bears fell to 4-6 with their loss to the Rams on Sunday, a mark that falls on struggling quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, embattled coach Matt Nagy and in turn Pace.

Pace sits behind beat reporters for each Bears road game, which is customary for visiting executives. But he hasn't been made available to reporters' interview requests this season, last speaking when hopes were high in Chicago back in early September. Pace is expected to address the media next at the conclusion of a disappointing year for the Bears. Until he does, there remain many questions that need addressed.

What's going through Pace's mind during each game of this lost season? How will he answer to this? More importantly, what will be done to fix this?

The final six games will allow Pace to evaluate his roster with respect to its shortcomings this season, an opportunity to assess which players haven't produced enough in 2019. It's clear Trubisky has been the leading detractor on the field, and while he has been let down by the Bears' offensive line, receivers, running backs and play-calling, great quarterbacks find a way to elevate their teams.

The quarterback question will be the most pressing item on Pace's agenda entering this offseason. The simple and most viable solution would be to sign a proven veteran who could reopen this window of contention. Pro Bowl names like Philip Rivers and Cam Newton first come to mind.

Pace must be willing to admit his mistakes and act decisively in fixing them. In the meantime, all he can do is watch as this Bears team sputters to the end.

Open field
By the time Nagy arrived back at Halas Hall on Monday morning, his team fresh off a loss in Los Angeles and exhausted from a red-eye fight, he was well aware of the conversation.

When he met the media, Nagy knew there was an ongoing discussion about what occurred some 14 hours earlier in Los Angeles as he spoke closely with Trubisky on the team's sidelines and removed him from the game. 

While Nagy was attempting to protect the injured Trubisky, who suffered a hip pointer earlier in the game, the relay of the injury news to the national television broadcast and reporters was botched by the Bears and created a perception that Nagy was benching Trubisky. 

What was said in that close exchange between Nagy and Trubisky?

"The thing that you love about Mitch is that he’s extremely tough," Nagy said. "I love that about him. But at the same time, he’s at a point where you could see that it was painful. So, what I had to do was I wanted him to know coming from me that he needs to be brutally honest with me in regards to his pain and where he’s at. And that’s exactly what it was. 

"I said, ‘Listen, man. We appreciate your toughness. We appreciate you being as tough as you can possibly be and want to stay in the game. But I need to be able to make a decision because there’s a fine line of that pain or being injured to where it affects how you play or decisions that you make because of being injured.' 

"He’s a tough, blue-collar kid. And he’s a fighter. But I wanted him to know that I fully support if he’s in pain and it hurts to play and too much to where it’s affecting our team, I need to make a decision. And that’s exactly what that was."

By the time Nagy addressed the situation Monday, it was far too late. The belief existed that Trubisky was done as the Bears' starter and that the injury was some sort of cover.

I believe Nagy when he says the Bears weren't aware of the pain Trubisky felt until late in the fourth quarter. Why would this team spend its final six games starting career backups Chase Daniel or Tyler Bray instead of evaluating the 25-year-old Trubisky, who drafted second overall two years ago? With the playoffs all but removed from play, the rest of this season for the Bears is about what Trubisky can or can't reveal.

But after another week of being buried, Trubisky's broken confidence can only get worse. Consider what Daniel said of his teammate.

"He just cares so much and he wants to make plays so bad," said Daniel, "that he feels like he let the team down when he doesn't play up to his standard."

4-down territory
1.) Broke Eddy Dinero

It was only a few months ago it seemed the Bears' greatest problem was at kicker. Now, that's just one of many issues this team has.

Eddy Pineiro has missed his last three field-goal attempts and is 12-of-17 this season. He missed two field-goal attempts in the loss to the Rams. After the first miss came from 48 yards out, the Bears elected to go for a fourth-and-9 from the Rams' 31-yard line as opposed to attempting a 49-yard field goal. They didn't convert, and Nagy's fading faith in Pineiro became clear.

Among the skeptics to Pineiro's future is Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said during a press conference this week, "Eddy Pineiro, find your leg."

The Bears elected to stand by Pineiro instead of opening up another kicking search. But will they be able to get him back on track? Perhaps the greater question is whether Nagy will continue to trust him.

Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said Pineiro was 21-of-23 on field-goal attempts while practicing inside Soldier Field on Wednesday. 

That at least gets Pineiro closer to finding his leg.

2.) Jesper's time

Before the Bears re-evaluate their tight end position this offseason, they want to look at every option available on their roster. It's why the team promoted rookie Jesper Horsted to the active roster.

Horsted should get a good opportunity at the "U" position the rest of this season -- and perhaps as soon as Sunday, when the Bears host the Giants. He shattered receiving records at Princeton and caught the Bears' attention in doing so. They converted Horsted to tight end upon signing him this past spring and have invested in developing him.

What's the scouting report on Horsted? Take it from fellow Ivy Leaguer Ben Braunecker.

"Great ball skills," Braunecker said. "You saw it in the preseason, his catch radius is tremendous. His hands are great. He has a knack of getting open, separating at the top of routes. Good wide receiver traits. He knows how to get in and out of breaks, separate from coverage, all of that. And he's coming along in the run game. I think this week will be a good challenge and a big step up for him. I think he'll enjoy it."

3.) A lost cause

The Bears have allowed 17.4 points per game this season, and that pace could come with a dubious distinction.

If the Bears finish under .500 in 2019, that mark would be the fewest points allowed by a team with a losing record since the 2004 Redskins, according to Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Network.

4.) No offense, but...

The Bears ran 74 plays for 267 yards in their loss last Sunday, averaging a season-worst 3.6 yards per play.

The Bears are averaging 4.3 yards per play this season. That's tied for dead last in the league, along with the Dolphins and Jets.

Quote to note:

"We want him out there to be our starter and to be playing."

-- Nagy on Trubisky.

Injury report
QB Mitchell Trubisky (right hip) -- End the speculation. Trubisky was cleared from the injury report and is set to start Sunday.

OT Bobby Massie (back) -- The other player to leave with an injury late in the loss Sunday, Massie made a recovery this week and isn't listed with an injury designation.

TE Adam Shaheen (foot) -- The Bears ruled out Shaheen for Sunday, and it's worth wondering whether the 2017 second-round pick has played his last down with Chicago.

LB Danny Trevathan (elbow) -- Despite how gruesome Trevathan's elbow injury appeared on Nov. 10, the Bears are considering his status as week-to-week. He avoided injured reserve last week.

LB Isaiah Irving (quad) -- Irving is officially questionable.

Prediction: Bears 21, Giants 7

The Giants have a porous defense and a quarterback prone to turnovers. This feels like just what the Bears need. But would they dance in Club Dub after beating a struggling team?

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.