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Bears facing big decisions after loss

AP photo Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) walks off the field after a wild-card playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday.

The Chicago Bears looked as if they were propping open a championship window when they captured the NFC North at 12-4 two years ago.

Back-to-back .500 regular seasons later, changes could be coming.

The Bears head into the offseason with some big issues to address after going 8-8 in the regular season for the second year in a row, starting with whether general manager Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy will be retained.

Though they made the playoffs for the second time in three years, they got knocked out in convincing fashion by New Orleans in a wild-card game on Sunday.

“We gave ourselves a shot,” star receiver Allen Robinson said Monday. “Obviously we haven’t gotten the outcome that we wanted.”

The biggest question is what the Bears decide on Pace and Nagy. That will be up to chairman George McCaskey.

The Bears dropped eight of their final 11 games counting the playoff loss to New Orleans. A six-game skid — their worst since 2002 — following a 5-1 start turned up the heat on Pace and Nagy.

Chicago jumped back into contention by winning three in a row against struggling teams before closing the regular season with a loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears reached the postseason as the seventh seed in an expanded field because Arizona fell to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17. Chicago then lost 21-9 at New Orleans, failing to score a touchdown until Jimmy Graham caught one on the final play.

It’s not just Pace and Nagy who have uncertain futures. Robinson and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have expiring contracts.

TRUBISKY’S FUTURE

Trubisky said he wants to remain in Chicago.

Whether the Bears want to keep him is another matter.

“Obviously a lot of that is out of my control, but it feels like home and it feels like we have unfinished business,” Trubisky said.

The No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, Trubisky has had his ups and downs in Chicago. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2018, only to take a step back the following year.

The Bears acquired Nick Foles from Jacksonville in the offseason and declined the fifth-year option for 2021 on their once-prized quarterback. Trubisky opened this season as the starter, only to get benched in favor of Foles during a Week 3 win at Atlanta. He returned to the lineup in late November and appeared more comfortable, with the Bears calling more rollouts rather than have him drop back to pass.

A-ROB’S MARKET

Robinson said “everything is pretty much on the table,” whether it’s re-signing with the Bears or joining another team. Chicago could also slap the franchise tag on him.

No matter what happens, he’s in for a big payday.

Robinson caught a career-high 102 passes. And his 1,250 yards were second only to the 1,400 he had with Jacksonville in his 2015 Pro Bowl season.

The Bears could wind up paying a big price for not agreeing to an extension with Robinson, whether they keep him or lose their leading receiver.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

Chicago’s defense ranked among the top 10 for much of the season. But that group looked more vulnerable as the year progressed.

The Bears ranked 11th overall. But they tied for 25th in the NFL in takeaways with 18 and finished with 35 sacks, 17th in the league.

Three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack had nine sacks in his second straight season finishing in single digits.

BREAKTHROUGH

Running back David Montgomery will look to build on a breakout season. A third-round draft pick in 2019, he ran for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 438 yards receiving and two TD catches.

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