The Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings already were eliminated from playoff contention entering Sunday’s season finale at U.S. Bank Stadium.
But in what potentially could be his last game as Bears coach, Matt Nagy still expects his team to put forth its best effort to end the season on a three-game winning streak.
The Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants after their loss to the Vikings officially knocked them from the playoff race.
“We all play to win the Super Bowl. That’s why we coach, that’s why we play,” Nagy said. “The biggest challenge as a player, as a coach is to make sure that we maintain that obligation to do everything that we’ve been doing … and keep fighting like you would if you had a chance, and that’s what I’m proud of with these guys.
“When there’s adversity that strikes and when things don’t go as well as you want it to go, how do you react? Do you change? Do you treat people differently? Are you a different head coach? Are you a different type of player? Because as they all say, that reveals your true character. In the end, we all look back and say, ‘How did we react during a tough time?’ I think everybody in this building can tell you, ‘We reacted pretty well.’”
Veteran Andy Dalton will start at quarterback after rookie Justin Fields tested positive for COVID-19 during the week. Nagy said Nick Foles would be the backup. Though Fields technically could have tested back into the playing, Nagy indicated the missed practice time Thursday and Friday would be too much to come back from.
Dalton will try to end a challenging season on a high note.
He was the starter to open the season before suffering a knee injury in Week 2. As he was recovering from the injury, the Bears turned to Fields as the permanent starter. Dalton came back to fill in for the then-injured Fields in a Thanksgiving Day win against the Detroit Lions but suffered hand and groin injuries and tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
He returned to beat the Giants last week with Fields out with an ankle injury.
“It’s been up and down,” Dalton said. “There’s a lot that has gone on and a lot of things that were not expected at times, but it’s kind of one of those things that you have to learn and grow from each experience that you have and that’s just kind of where I’m at.”
Latest Bears buzz
The Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported Friday that while Nagy is expected to be fired Sunday or Monday following the season finale, the buzz around the league is the Bears could retain general manager Ryan Pace in some role.
Aside from Fields being on the reserve/COVID-19 list, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is the only Bears player who was declared out Friday. Hicks has been dealing with an ankle injury and will miss his eighth game this season.
Outside linebacker Robert Quinn (shoulder), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (finger) and cornerback Duke Shelley (heel) were listed as questionable.
The Bears on Saturday elevated wide receiver Dazz Newsome from the practice squad. The 2021 sixth-round pick has played in two games.
For the Vikings, defensive tackle Michael Pierce (illness) is doubtful while Mackensie Alexander (ankle), Kris Boyd (ribs) and Wyatt Davis (illness) are questionable.
Miss anything this week? Catch up before the last kickoff of the season (noon, FOX).
- Matt Nagy navigates one last turn of the quarterback carousel Sunday. None of them have been successful enough as he enters what could be his last game as Bears coach.
- Column: Buzz around the NFL is Bears GM Ryan Pace will stay — possibly with a promotion — while coach Matt Nagy will be fired
- 5 things to watch for in the Bears’ season finale, including Matt Nagy’s closing act and Jaylon Johnson’s coveted matchup — plus our Week 18 predictions
- Major changes seem imminent at Halas Hall. But what exactly will the Bears do with Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace, Ted Phillips and others?
- Bears Q&A: Which free agents won’t be back? And will Devin Hester get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
- ‘He shut everybody up.’ Robert Quinn’s resurgence — including breaking Richard Dent’s Bears record for sacks in a season — has been remarkable.
- Column: Hub Arkush isn’t ‘a bum,’ but his thoughts on Aaron Rodgers’ MVP candidacy were wrong — and he should recuse himself from voting
- NFL playoff scenarios: The 1st Week 18 will end with a Sunday night showdown between the Chargers and Raiders for a wild-card spot
- Green Bay Packers clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs
- 4 moments from the Bears’ blowout that could be significant to the future, from Trevis Gipson’s 1st sack to Darnell Mooney’s TD
- The Arlington Heights Bears? Here’s what to know about the team’s possible move from Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Source: Berkshire mont