2018 Bears Superlatives: MVP, biggest disappointment, rising star, and more

Cam Ellis
NBC Sports Chicago
Let's hand out some imaginary awards!

2018 Bears Superlatives: MVP, biggest disappointment, rising star, and more

Let's hand out some imaginary awards!

2018 Bears Superlatives: MVP, biggest disappointment, rising star, and more originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com

You may not think so right now, but the 2018 Chicago Bears season was a success. It ended with one of the more improbable displays of physics you're ever going to see, but a division-winning, 12-win season under a first year head coach is a raging success. 
Now that it's over, though, it's time to look back and assign some superlatives. Who was the MVP? Who had the most disappointing year? What was the season's best moment? Let's dive in:

MVP - Tarik Cohen

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Runner-up: Khalil Mack
It'd be very easy -- and probably just as accurate -- to argue that this spot belongs to Khalil Mack. Mack's addition took this defense from being a pretty good one to the league's best, and he spent the entire season putting up mind-boggling numbers. With that said, Cohen was the most dynamic player on 2 of the 3 Bears units, and that's why he's the 2018 MVP. Besides being named to his first All-Pro team as a return specialist, Cohen put up career-highs in almost every rushing/receiving stat. It's what makes his Wild Card performance so disappointing; getting only 4 touches in a playoff game just isn't acceptable. Still, Cohen's 2018 season solidified him as a bonafide offensive star, and for that, he gets MVP. 

Best Moment - Breaking the Rams on national television

Runner-up: Trubisky's performance in the 4th Quarter of the Wild Card loss 
I'd also hear the argument for the NFC North-clinching Packers win, but that was a Green Bay team that was already making tee times by the time they got to Soldier in mid-December. It was also the game that ended Eddie Jackson's season, indirectly allowing Nick Foles to set up shop in the middle of the field all Wild Card evening long. 

The Rams game, however, was way different. The Rams came into Soldier Field on a chilly Sunday Night with their 11-1 record, high-powered offense and savant head coach and got SMACKED. It was only 2 weeks after the Rams-Chiefs instant classic, and people were talking about the NFL like it was the Big 12. Then, in front of a national audience, the Bears dragged LA around Soldier Field all night in a 15-6 win. The Rams' offense, which hadn't scored less than 30 points in any of the prior 4 games, didn't get into the end zone once. Jared Goff and Sean McVay looked pedestrian. Todd Gurley had 28 yards on 11 carries. It was the Bears' coming out party, and the season's expectations changed dramatically after.

Biggest Disappointment - Double-doink

Runner-up: Jordan Howard
Bears Twitter has been entirely too cruel to Parkey since the miss, but that's how it goes in the NFL. The Bears squandered a terrific chance to go deep into the playoffs - road games in LA or New Orleans are no cake walk, but Chicago's defense was clearly up to the task. Going 12-4 with a division title only to put together one of the least-inspiring performances of the season leaves *such* a bitter taste in the mouth. The Bears are basically running back the same roster next year, so there's hope for redemption, but NFL windows can shut real fast on you. You need look no further than Jacksonville to see the worst-case scenario for the 2019 Bears, and the Jags are probably blowing it up this offseason because of it. The Bears were legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and coming up so short is more disappointing than any individual performance.

Breakout Performer - Eddie Jackson

Runner-up: Roquan Smith 
Is it any real question? Eddie Jackson would be the best player on maybe, what, 20 NFL defenses? More? And on the Bears he was probably their 3rd best defense player? Jackson was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded safety and earned his first All-Pro selection. The Eagles-Bears game more than likely plays out way differently if he's healthy. He is one of the brightest stars on a defense full of them.

Most Forgettable Day - Cody Parkey Quad-Doink

Runner-up: Cody Parkey Double-Doink. 
I only put it in this order because while the double-doink may be worse, it's not forgettable. Hopefully there comes a time where Parkey forgets he put 4 balls off the uprights in one game.

Best Under-the-Radar Season - Cody Whitehair 

Runner-up: Sherrick McManis 
Whitehair put up a really nice season, and the Bears' offensive line finished just outside the Top-10 (11) of Pro Football Focus' O-Line rankings. They were especially good as a pass-blocking unit, ranking as the 2nd-most efficient unit in that category. Whitehair himself ended the season with a 70.7, good for 8th best among all centers. The Bears' line doesn't have much in the way of elite talent, but the depth and overall quality was one of the most underrated aspect of their success this season. 

Best Bears Trick Play - Oompa Loompa

Runner-up: Freezer Left
I spent more time thinking about this answer than I did all the other answers combined. It's gotta be Oompa Loompa. My thought process goes like this: Willy Wonka was fun, but it was in an early-October blow out of Tampa Bay, so it gets low grades for impact. Freezer Left and Santa's Sleigh were obviously great because of how they got linemen involved. There is not a more fun football play to watch than a 300-lbs lineman scoring a touchdown, and I mean that with complete sincerity. I can't think of too many times that Soldier Field got louder than it did when Sowell caught that pass. That said, Oompa Loompa was not only the best trick play of the year but one of their best moments, too. To cap off such a wildly improbable comeback with that play call is just a level of gumption that very few NFL coaches have. The fact that with the game on the line, the Bears decided to run a double reverse pass that required Tarik Cohen to go through multiple reads, and they hit on it with the clock expiring. It created so much euphoria that the Bears' eventual OT loss didn't feel nearly as frustrating as it probably should have. 
 

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