This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISEBased on record alone, the Bears' 5-11 campaign wasn't the worst in team annals, but few in the franchise's 96-year history were as dispiriting. After entering the season with aspirations of contending for the playoffs, Chicago finished in the NFC North cellar, arriving there in embarrassing fashion.
The Bears were already underachieving in the early going, but a 51-23 thumping from the Patriots in Week 8 would be a harbinger of things to come. Despite having had a bye to prepare for the rival Packers in Week 10, the Bears were absolutely throttled, trailing 42-0 at halftime before losing 55-14. It was the first time since 1923 that an NFL team had surrendered 50-plus points in consecutive games.
The back-to-back blowouts effectively quashed the Bears' postseason hopes with seven games still remaining, and, unsurprisingly, cost head coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery their jobs. After the season ended, ownership acted quickly in bringing aboard former Broncos head man John Fox as the team's new coach and Ryan Pace as GM, while reeling in Adam Gase and Vic Fangio to coordinate the offense and defense, respectively.
Gase's chief priority will be doing what Chicago's last four offensive coordinators could not – reach the perpetually enigmatic Jay Cutler. Though he set career-best marks in touchdown passes (28) and completion percentage (66.0%) last season, Cutler's ineffectiveness early in games often left the Bears facing huge deficits. It appeared as though Cutler lost the faith of the locker