Bears players who entered 2019 with Super Bowl aspirations cleaned out their lockers Monday at Halas Hall after concluding a disappointing 8-8 season.
The defending NFC North champions failed to make the playoffs, finishing in third place in the division behind the Packers (13-3) and Vikings (10-6).
Veteran right tackle Bobby Massie summed up the disappointment that was evident throughout the locker room Monday.
"We did have high expectations coming into this year and we didn't reach our goal, which is unfortunate," Massie said. "We've just got to come back harder next season."
An inefficient offense was the biggest issue in 2019 for the Bears, who ranked 29th in the NFL in scoring (17.5 points per game) and 29th in total yards (296.8). The only teams that finished lower in both categories were the Jets and Redskins.
"We just didn't score points," Massie said. "At the end of the day, that's what we have to do. We didn't get into the end zone, a lot of three-and-outs, inconsistent opening drive of the game, not scoring in the first quarter. There were a lot of things that we didn't accomplish as an offense this year that we need to get better at."
Massie was impressed with how quarterback Mitchell Trubisky dealt with the criticism that was aimed in his direction throughout the season.
"He's resilient as hell," Massie said. "He caught a lot of heat from outside this building and he just fought through it all. He never folded. He stood up and fought for the offense every week and played the best that he could every game."
Trubisky's positive attitude rubbed off on his teammates.
"It's very contagious," Massie said. "When you see your quarterback doing it, he's the face of the team, so it hypes everybody up and gets everybody else ready to go."
While acknowledging that 8-8 isn't satisfactory, Bears players are confident that the team will rebound behind coach Matt Nagy.
"Something special is here," said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March. "I've been on a couple teams, and I'm able to realize what's real and what's not, and they have something that's real here. Whoever is going to be here is going to be a part of something special.
"The sky is the limit right now. Coach Nagy is going to put everybody in great places. All of the coaching staff is going to look at what they need to do better. All of the players are going to see what they need to do better and what they need to correct. And I'm excited for where this organization is headed."
As is the case every season, the roster will look different next year. In addition to Pierre-Louis, other Bears who are set to become unrestricted free agents include inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski; quarterback Chase Daniel; offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Cornelius Lucas; defensive linemen Nick Williams and Brent Urban; outside linebacker Aaron Lynch; safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sherrick McManis, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson; and long-snapper Patrick Scales.
"It is difficult because you grind with these guys every day," Pierre-Louis said. "You get close to certain players, so knowing that you might not be there next year or someone else might not be there next year, it's definitely tough … You build these bonds and it's hard to let them go."