There are a lot of bad teams in the 2016 NFL. This season has certainly been a disappointment and for fans of the Chicago Bears it’s been every bit as disappointing.
Nearly halfway through the season and the Bears have a solitary win and are heading into a Monday Night Football game against the Vikings, who happened to be the last undefeated team standing.
That means that Chicago could likely be staring at 1-7 at their break.
With the way the team has been playing this year there are no gimme games on the schedule.
The 49ers are bad, but they were bad last year when they came to Chicago and beat the Bears. The Titans aren’t very good but they gave the Colts all they could handle and the Bears choked away that game.
The Bears couldn’t even beat Brock Osweiler, for goodness sake.
This is a two-to-three win team, maybe, tops they get to four wins but overall they will likely be considered among the worst teams in the league.
But are they the worst Bears team in the last 25 years?
A generation is usually defined by 25 years and the Bears have had some awful teams in that quarter century but is the 2016 team the worst?
As I recently turned 29 years old, I’m not even overqualified myself to answer this question because I don’t remember much about any particular Bears season prior to about 1999. I didn’t actively follow the team until 2001.
However, using pro-football-reference, I can look back at all these teams and their rankings and stats.
Going back to 1991, the Bears have had three four-win seasons and four five-win seasons but luckily that is as bad as it’s gotten for them.
Should the Bears win only two more games, record-wise that would automatically be the worst team in 25 years.
Or would it?
There are varying degrees of bad. There are talented teams with poor coaching, talentless teams with good coaching and talentless teams with talentless coaching.
Football is the ultimate team sport. It takes 11 players on each side of the ball all doing their individual jobs (mostly) to perfection for each play to work. There are, however, flukes, bounces and strange occurrences that can throw off this balance.
I would argue that despite this team’s record, the worst Bears team of my lifetime and of this generation, was the 2014 squad.
The 2014 team (5-11) had infighting, bad coaching and a horrendous locker room situation that included coaches openly admitting to leaking bad media reports about Jay Cutler. The situation of that team was ridiculous. Meanwhile, they were giving up 50 burgers to teams regularly.
That team had talent but it barely ever scratched the surface of its potential after a surprise 2-1 start.
The 2016 team ranks dead last in points scored but 16th in yards. Their defense, however, is much more respectable, ranking 20th in points allowed and 12th in yards.
This team has injuries up and down the roster, causing a very talent-shallow team to reach deep into its roster for starters. Compared to the 2014 squad, this team has very little talent but they are managing to play opponents pretty closely.
If the offensive rankings hold to the end of the season it would be only the second time in these 25 years that the Bears finished dead last in offensive points. The last time it happened was 2004, when they were last in both points and offensive yards. That might have been the worst Bears offense I’ve ever seen.
The 1997 and 2000 teams both finished 28th in points scored but in ‘97 there were only 30 teams and 31 in 2000.
Speaking of the 1997 team (4-12), it might actually be in the running with 2014 and this season as the worst Bears team of the last 25 years.
In addition to finishing third-to-last in points scored, the defense finished second-to-last in points allowed.
In 2014 the Bears defense was the worst in team history, finishing 31st in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed.
A great way to measure how bad a team is is to look at their point differential (points scored minus points allowed). This allows a picture of how inept the team was on both sides of the ball to emerge.
The ‘97 team had a -158 point differential. By comparison, the 2014 Bears had “only” a -123 differential. This year the Bears are at -58, which shows the fact that they are not getting blown out.
In fact, this year’s squad hasn’t lost by more than 15 points, meaning that they have yet to be in a game decided by more than two scores. A moral victory if there ever was one.
Looking back over point differentials, the only other worse Bears teams by that metric were the 2000 team (-139, 4-12) and the 2004 team (-100, 5-11).
While this could end up being the worst Bears team record-wise, they could only end up being in the discussion of “worst five” Bears teams of the last 25 years with the 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2014 teams.
Take your pick, which team is the worst Bears team of the last 25 years? What are some of the awful memories of those bad teams?