Unfortunately, this season is a lost concern, with only development time for young players like Leonard Floyd of value to the Bears going forward. However, there will certainly be plenty of questions surrounding the team after this season. For one, will John Fox return as coach, and who will assume the most important position in all of professional sports?
To answer the first question, my sources tell me there is a very good chance that Fox won't return to coach the team beyond this season. But for continuity's sake, Ryan Pace will be retained as GM, and will be allowed to pick Fox's replacement. Don't be surprised if the Bears return to their previous ways of hiring a coach without any previous head coaching experience.
Look, this team is a mess and as I have written previously, much of the problem starts at the top. But with changes in that regard extremely unlikely, it makes much more sense to look at the coaching staff and the quarterback, since changes in both areas are not only probable, they are almost a lock.
Now I'm not saying to bet the house on it, for living in a cardboard box isn't recommended in Chicago, but Jay Cutler is likely playing his last season with Chicago. If he comes back, it won't be because they want him back, it will be due to lack of better options.
I've always felt that, for all his faults, Bears fans may not appreciate what they've had in Cutler until he leaves and they remember just how hard it is to find a franchise QB. Don't get me wrong, Jay frustrates the hell out of me a lot of times, as he teases us with all that talent, while seemingly refusing to value ball security.
But in his defense, the Bears haven't usually had a very good team around him, and he has been sacked more than groceries at your local Jewel food store. In fact, I believe much of his troubles stem from the nightmare days when he was setting dubious records for getting slammed to the turf. He's tough, but nobody can go through that kind of abuse and not have his internal clock affected.
In short, he's broken all of the Bears horses and all of the Bears men haven't been able to put Cutler back together again. But who is out there for the Bears to consider as a replacement, as they look both short-term and long-term.
Well, for one, current QB Bryan Hoyer's arm will heal and he could return as the temporary starter, while they draft or trade for a yonger QB to groom as the future franchise QB. Hoyer is actually not that bad, but his awful performance in last year's playoffs clouds his ability.
No, Hoyer is not the answer, but can be a short-term game manager, checking down before he checks out.The there is the rumored availability of the Cowboys' Tony Romo, who is expected by many to be dealt after the season in favor of Dak Prescott. Romo is better than Cutler, but his health has to be a genuine concern. There should be plenty of suitors too.
If I'm Pace, I try like hell to pry Jimmy Garoppolo from Bill Belichick. I think it's unlikely the Pats let him go, and it will cost at least one first round draft pick if they do, but he's worth pursuing if you're a team with a need at the quarterback position. He's talented, and has learned under one of the best QBs and head coaches in all of football.
But Belichick really likes Garoppolo. Sure, it's smart to talk up a possible trade candidate, ut I think it's more than that. I truly believe he thinks very highly of his young QB, even going so far as to say that it's "seamless" when Garoppolo is in there, and that you couldn't tell the difference between he and Tom Brady if your eyes were closed.
But once again, just like with Romo, there would be many teams interested in Garoppolo if New England were to make him available.
One thing is certain, however, the Bears will need somebody to temporarily start until they can either trade for, or draft, their franchise QB. I would definitely draft a quarterback in the next draft, though there are no guys that the experts predict can walk on the field and start right away as rookies.
Of course, there will be free agents to consider also. So, whether they go the trade route, free agency, stay with Hoyer or keep Cutler, the Bears will likely have a veteran starting while they wait for a young QB to develop.
As for Fox, they could conceivably give him another season. But if they do, then it's even more likely that they would change QBs, because Fox isn't a fan of Cutler, and doesn't want his job to depend on having Jay. A new head coach, particularly a young and inexperienced one, would be given more rope, and will have the time to let a young QB get ready.
So what happened with Fox? Well, I believe that we were all so focused on replacing Marc Trestman with somebody who looked and sounded the part of a professional football coach, that we ignored some of the reasons why John Elway wanted him gone in Denver.
Then there was that whole second year improvement thing. But if you think about it, in Carolina, they replaced a crappy Jimmy Clausen with Cam Newton, so that second year boost was at least partly due to improved play at the QB position. Likewise in Denver, they went out and got Peyton Manning to QB in Foxy's second year. So there you go.
I am hearing that Pace would rather have a head coach who doesn't garner as much say as Fox does, and instead would rather have more of a team player to work with.
So, go out and pluck a good young QB from another team or go draft one. Or both. Meanwhile, find a veteran they are comfortable with and someone who is more likely than Cutler to help develop his potential replacement. And while you're at it, get rid of Fox.
But why not give Pace some more time to see what he can do. His first two first round draft selections have been controversial due to injuries in the case of the first one, Kevin White, and lack of size and strength in the other. But Floyd is starting to show something, so the jury is still out.
The Bears aren't going anywhere this season, and likely won't be ready to start winning for a couple more seasons. But they simply must get the QB situation settled if they are going to have a chance to rebuild this into something that can sustain success in the future.
Follow me on Twitter, @BobWarja