Emma's Tailgater: Season Of Reckoning Ahead For Bears

Whether it's the playoffs or a shakeup, the Bears need to find clarity in 2020.
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(670 The Score) One way or another, the Bears need to find clarity in this 2020 season.

The Bears need to either be a playoff team and fulfill their potential for sustained success or fall short of expectations and enact organizational change. This needs to be a season of reckoning for them.

There's immense pressure on general manager Ryan Pace to produce a playoff team this season. His job security could require just that. After a disappointing 2019, Pace and the Bears stood by struggling quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, challenging him instead of cutting ties altogether. As was clear back on draft night in 2017, Pace's tenure will be tied to Trubisky's fate.

If the Bears struggle, they'll be in position to draft in the top half of a first round in 2021 that's projected to be filled with talented quarterback options. But does Pace deserve to draft another quarterback after missing on Trubisky? That's a question Bears chairman George McCaskey may have to answer if the team scuffles again.

Then there's coach Matt Nagy, who was touted as an innovative mind on offense when he joined the Bears in January 2018. The questions surrounding Nagy back then as a head coach were about how he could lead a team. After two years, Nagy's leadership is unquestioned, but his offense still lacks an identity.

Like Pace, Nagy faces pressure to right his greatest wrong on the job -- a floundering offense that became an NFL punchline last season. Nagy reshuffled the offensive coaching staff with four new hires in the offseason and is seeking a more balanced attack. For the Bears to have success, Nagy's offense must hit its stride.

Will the Bears respond from 2019 and be a playoff team again? Or will they continue their downfall from a once-promising place? No matter what happens, the Bears should find clarity.

Open field: Giving Mitch a chance

During a difficult offseason, Trubisky was challenged by the Bears to refine his footwork, improve his pocket presence and come back a better quarterback. However, Trubisky first had to challenge himself.

"At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself for your teammates and other people to believe in you," Trubisky said. "So, I just came in here with a different attitude and mindset and how I’m going to approach this season. There’s going to be no regrets. I’m not even worried about outcomes. I’m just worried about putting my best foot forward."

It's not clear whether Trubisky will be an improved quarterback in 2020, but he returned a more confident person and player, believing he was ready to respond. When the Bears brought in a veteran competitor in Nick Foles, Trubisky embraced it. When the Bears declined his fifth-year option, he took it in stride.

The 26-year-old Trubisky took ownership of his struggles over his first three NFL seasons with the Bears and set course on correcting it.

"You have an opportunity here to have a really, really cool story," Nagy said.

Let's see how it's written.

4-down territory

1.) What's next for Robinson?
The Bears want to lock top receiver Allen Robinson into a long-term extension, but it's not clear if that will happen.

Robinson, 27, is in the final season of a three-year, $42-million deal that he signed in March 2018. It has proved to be a bargain for the Bears, with Robinson re-emerging as one of the NFL's most talented receivers after recovering from an ACL injury. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent next March as a player in his prime.

While the Bears covet Robinson, his price may be getting too high for them. The Cardinals gave receiver DeAndre Hopkins a two-year, $54.5-million extension this week. The Cowboys signed receiver Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100-million deal in March.

The market has been set for Robinson in the neighorhood of these two deals. He will haul in a major contract, whether that's from the Bears or another team.

2.) Concern for Quinn
The Bears signed outside linebacker Robert Quinn to a five-year, $70-million deal to bolster their pass rush. Now, he could be in line to miss the team's opener.

Quinn is hampered by an ankle injury, and coach Matt Nagy on Thursday refused to offer specifics on his status. The ailment could be a lingering matter that affects Quinn throughout the course of the season.

Without Quinn, fellow edge rusher Khalil Mack can expect to see his share of double-team blocks. The Bears need their complementary rusher on the edge of their defensive front.

3.) Jaylon in
Rookie Jaylon Johnson earned his place as a starting cornerback on the Bears' defense, and he's set to line up in a secondary with Pro Bowl teammates in cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.

A second-round pick of the Bears, Johnson has made a strong impression already.

"Jaylon (Johnson) is a competitor," Jackson said. "Right now, he's showing us a lot of good things.

"He's everything you thought he would be."

4.) Bears' matriarch will travel
Virginia McCaskey, the Bears' 97-year-old matriarch, will be in attendance at a fan-less Ford Field on Sunday.

While McCaskey will have to skip her traditional visit with good friend Martha Firestone Ford, she's looking forward to watching the Bears take the field.

"She's always eager to start the season," chairman George McCaskey said of his mother. "To say she was especially eager this season would be an understatement."

Quote to note
"It feels like the longest six months ever. But how cool is it that there's been so much hard work just to get to this point. So many different people, all of us together. Now we get to watch, tonight, a football game. We get to prepare this weekend for football games. it's just finally a positive, which is what we're all lacking right now, a positive. Just to get things back on track, it just shows where we're at. We're just moving arrow up in a lot of areas. Now, it's time to go have some fun and cut it loose like we all know we can do."
-- Nagy on the return of football.

Injury report
OLB Robert Quinn (ankle) -- It seems the Bears could be without their marquee addition of the offseason for their opening game.

OLB Khalil Mack (knee) -- Nagy and the Bears are hopeful Mack can play Sunday, so it appears to be a matter of whether he'll be limited.

RB David Montgomery (groin) -- It was encouraging news for the Bears on Thursday when Montgomery was a full participant in practice. He's in line to play.

Prediction (0-0): Bears ​17, Lions 13
As Trubisky and the Bears look to rebound this season, they have the ideal opportunity to begin strong in Detroit.

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