For the first time in three years, the Chicago Bears won’t play football on Thanksgiving, which is reason enough for Bears fans to be thankful. It’s been a rough year for the Bears and their fans, especially considering how a 5-1 start has turned into 5-5 in the middle of a four-game losing streak.
While this season has taken a discouraging turn, here are six things that Bears fans can be thankful for in 2020.
The Bears are still (mathematically) in the playoff hunt
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Despite losing four straight games, the Bears are still shockingly just one game out of a postseason berth in the NFC. Even if there’s not much confidence that this team can earn a playoff spot, they’re still in the hunt, which is all that Bears fans can ask for at this point in the season. And with uncertainty surrounding the Ravens-Steelers game with a COVID-19 outbreak, Chicago would technically be in a playoff spot if they go to eight teams in each conference.
Roquan Smith’s All-Pro year
John Cordes/AP Images for Panini
General manager Ryan Pace hasn’t had much luck with first-round draft picks since his arrival in Chicago back in 2015. From Kevin White to Leonard Floyd to Mitchell Trubisky, Pace’s first-rounders have been duds. With Roquan Smith entering his third season, many were expecting him to take that leap and prove he was worth his first-round billing. And Smith has done that — and more. Smith has been having an All-Pro season with the Bears, where he has 96 total tackles (3rd in NFL), 70 solo tackles (1st) and 15 tackles-for-loss (1st).
WR Allen Robinson
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
The Bears once again have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, and it’s receiver Allen Robinson that makes it a little less unbearable to watch. Robinson is once again on track for a 1,000-yard season, which is impressive considering the ineptitude of this passing offense. Through 10 games, Robinson has 63 receptions for 755 yards and three touchdowns. And yet, shockingly, the Bears still haven’t locked down Robinson for the long-term. Bears fans are enjoying Robinson for as long as they can, especially as his long-term future remains in jeopardy.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
The only reason the Bears have won five games this season is due in large part to their defense, which continues to keep this team in games. The Bears are allowed 20.9 points per game, which is the sixth-fewest in the league, and they remain the NFL’s best red zone defense, allowing a touchdown just 44.12% of the time. Chicago’s defense remains a top-five unit in the NFL, which makes the offense’s struggles even more infuriating. The Bears continue to waste a championship-caliber defense, which isn’t something to be thankful for.
Bears’ 2020 rookie class
The Bears have seen some big contributions for members of their rookie class this season, notably second-round cornerback Jaylon Johnson and fifth-round receiver Darnell Mooney. Johnson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL and easily the best rookie cornerback. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson has given up 31 receptions on 58 targets for 495 yards, and he has 13 pass breakups, which ranks fourth in the NFL. Then there’s Mooney, who immediately became a game-changer in this Bears offense. Too bad he doesn’t have a quarterback that can get him the ball when he gets separation downfield. While Chicago’s top draft pick Cole Kmet has shown promise, he hasn’t been as involved on offense, which hopefully changes in the near future.
Bears found their kicker
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Remember when kicker was Chicago’s biggest concern? Those were good times. And now, the Bears have finally found their kicker in Cairo Santos, who was originally the emergency plan and now the plan. When Eddy Pineiro wasn’t healthy enough to suit up the first few weeks, Santos took full advantage of his opportunity and has shined this season for Chicago. Santos has connected on 17-of-19 field goals (89.47%) and made all 18 extra point attempts this season. His three-kick effort against the Carolina Panthers — which included a 55-yarder — also earned him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors in Week 6.