The Bears aren't going to the playoffs this season, but by no means does that make 2015 a throw away year. The development of young players and culture created in the locker rooms still makes this a productive year.
One of the biggest highlights this season for the Bears is the reemergence of quarterback Jay Cutler. Under Marc Trestman, Cutler regressed and seemed to lack all confidence. Head coach John Fox brought some stability to Cutler and offensive coordinator Adam Gase played to the veteran quarterback's strengths.
Given all the injuries the Bears have had on offense this year, it's safe to say Cutler has had his best all-around city since coming to Chicago back in 2009.
Former general manager Phil Emery did a poor job developing talent through the draft. Outside of Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery, Emery seemed to miss on virtually every pick.
Current general manager Ryan Pace has already proven he has a better eye for talent. He's found solid starters in defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, safety Adrian Amos, running back Jeremy Langford and center Hroniss Grasu. Rookie free agents John Timu and Harold Jones-Quartey look like good depth players going forward and we still have yet to see first round pick Kevin White.
The talent is there yet for the Bears but they certainly play hard. That's a testament to a good coaching staff who has instilled a competitive culture that will pay off going forward. John Fox has won at every stop he's been at and his message in Chicago has the Bears thinking they can do the same.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has done a good job implementing his 3-4 scheme. As the team gets better players, this defense will be a force to be reckoned with. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase as put himself in line for a head coaching job thanks to making Cutler better and doing an admirable job with inferior talent.
One thing the Bears have been able to do is identify who are solid options going forward and where the team needs to fill in some holes. It was a slow start to the season for Willie Young and Lamarr Houston but they have come on of late and can form a solid partnership with Pernell McPhee at outside linebacker going forward.
Inside linebacker has been an issue all season, but at least the Bears know what they have now in Shea McClellin and Christian Jones. Look for the team to choose an inside linebacker early in the draft.
The offensive line play has been shaky all year. If the Bears want to keep Kyle Long at right tackle, they are going to need to find another guard and it wouldn't hurt to look for an upgrade at left tackle. The Eddie Royal signing was a bust, but the Bears can address the slot receiver spot as well as a kick returner in the draft.
Circling back to Jay Cutler, the Bears now know they can count on him going forward. One of the biggest questions going into the year was whether Cutler can be the guy this year and for years to come. He's proven to be a solid quarterback and a great teammate. It's a huge relief to a management team knowing they don't have to find a quarterback early in the draft.
The Bears are going to finish the year with another losing season but the arrow is pointing up. One more solid draft and some solid free agent signings can have them looking towards a 10-win season next year. At some point, everybody will look back at this 2015 campaign as the year the foundation was set for a franchise comeback.