clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Not a fork in the road: 2017 is everyone's year on the Bears

This season isn't a lost, pointless cause in Chicago. It has a lot of meaning for many Bears and the future to come.

Cleveland Browns v Chicago Bears
The 2017 season isn't just about Mitch Trubisky.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

"You can only achieve that which you will do."

That's a simple and famous George Halas proverb, that reverberates for the modern Chicago Bears of today more than ever. Their success, their development, it's all in front of them and in their control. All they have to do is seize the day and recognize that fact.

Halas, as the Bears founder, long-time head coach, and even player, wasn't known to be a spark plug of notable quotes. It wasn't his style to play that game with the press or in public. When rarely pressed upon, he possessed wisdom beyond anything you'd imagine. As the patriarch of the NFL's charter franchise, you'd expect nothing less.

For many, there are low expectations for the 2017 Bears.

The reason first and foremost for that is a reigning now six-year playoff drought. For most in Chicago, that breeds pessimism and only has it grow continually as the hapless years go by. Hope only comes on the horizon for the pack once it's actually tangibly visible. Like a frog in a boiling pot of water, many only notice the real difference of heat i.e. success and optimism, if it's immediate and apparent - not gradually built up.

What's developed in conversation surrounding these Bears now, is that perhaps none of the 2017 season may matter in conjunction: at least until rookie No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky steps in to start and take his rightful place under center as the future.

That because of a lame duck presence such as head coach John Fox, the Bears can't accomplish anything crucial to work towards something special, as the next man to step in will change continuity built up over three seasons.

That because the Bears may not be a playoff contender or have occasional flaws across their roster, there's no point in another middling year hovering around .500 or less.

Whether you agree or not, such is a fool's errand to view matters in life like this, not only Bears football, under a such an unfortunately overly critical microscope. Clear your head and understand this: There's a ledger of goals for the 2017 Bears to work for and attain. It's about taking the time to open your eyes to see them.

You can only achieve that which you will do.


Current Bears starter Mike Glennon had a famous soundbite way back in spring during organized team activities.

When asked about his status in a potential competition with Trubisky, Glennon was repeatedly adamant - to the count of repeating himself 12 times - that this 2017 season was "his year" and that no one was going to take it away from him provided he didn't allow it.

If Glennon plays well enough and keeps the Bears afloat, he'll keep his now backup Trubisky at bay. If he struggles at a consistent rate, a short leash could show up and the dream of taking the firm grasp of the reins of his own NFL team will end in a flash.

It's a lot of pressure for the 27-year-old Glennon, but not anything he isn't used to in previous experiences in college at NC State and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perhaps, the third time's the charm. The one to last. The one to have that dream realized.

How long Glennon's time as the Bears starter lasts remains to be seen, but his perspective can be applied to many on this roster. It's everyone's year. There is meaning for everyone over the next approximate four months at Halas Hall - whether completely conspicuous or underlying.

They can only live in the moment for now, and maximize their best chances in the present. That's why it's so fascinating to note this interesting Bears' dichotomy of playing for the future and developing a foundation at the same time. Caught in the middle and creating a bright outlook as best as possible.

There are many in Lake Forest who have a lot to prove with their career in the crossroads. Guys of whom are eager to show their worth and jump onto this eventual hopeful Bears' contending train. It's all in the palm of their hands. It's their year.

They can only achieve that of which they will do.


Of anyone on the current Bears roster, there might not be a bigger enigma than Kyle Fuller.

The 25-year-old former Virginia Tech Hokie in Fuller is about to start his fourth season with the Bears, with his contract status uncertain after having his fifth-year option declined by Chicago in the off-season. Fuller missed the entire 2016 season in an extremely strange "will he or won't he" situation concerning an arthroscopic knee surgery that was had him maybe healthy, maybe not.

Because of a lack of trust developed between Fuller and Chicago's coaching staff, entering this year, Fuller was in rampant competition on the Bears' boundary with new additions Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper to start and maintain his job status.

That's not how it's supposed to work for a former-first round pick. This is when talk of a lucrative second contract is supposed to happen after finishing one's rookie deal. For whatever reason, that hasn't happened yet for Fuller. A tenuous and tumultuous situation a young player would prefer not to be in: NFL purgatory.

However, not all opportunity is lost here. With Amukamara and Cooper in the fold, it's still not as if the Bears have the answers at cornerback. These are two veterans working to prove themselves in their own right. Fuller, after showing flashes his rookie 2014 season and occasionally showcasing ability that originally made him a highly touted prospect, has his chance because of that questionable opening.

It's Fuller's year too, provided he takes advantage. Since Amukamara is doubtful for Sunday's season opener against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, here comes that first shot at redemption.

The first person likely standing in Fuller's way? All-worldly perennial All-Pro, Julio Jones. No big deal.

Fuller can only achieve that of which he will do.


A prolific playmaker as a receiver in his final major year as a starter at West Virginia, Kevin White was as the kids say, a "baller" for the Mountaineers any time they dialed up a play for him.

With 109 receptions, 1,447 yards, and 10 touchdowns, White found his comfort level quite effectively at the college level in his final season as an amateur. Combine production like that with prototypical size at 6-foot-3, 216 pounds and scouts drooled over his potential prior to the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Bears were one of those drooling teams, and subsequently made the first-round investment in White because they believed in an absurdly high ceiling for him. They fell in love with him as a prospect and romanticized him becoming a true No. 1 wideout in their offense in time.

Oh how circumstances can change in what seems like the blink of an eye.

Flash forward two years later and White has appeared in only four of a possible 32 NFL games. Unfortunate leg injuries have robbed the 25-year-old of making major traction as a receiver in his development. Technically speaking, White is a third-year player. Logistically, given his tremendous lack of experience to this point, he's more like a rookie still learning the ropes and intricacies of being a wide receiver in professional football.

2017 was originally going to be a year of easing back in for White.

A season where White could comfortably play more in a No. 2 role next to Cameron Meredith, after finally and ideally enjoying a season of full health. He could and was supposed to get comfortable at a gradual pace. Ironically enough, Meredith's torn ACL - ending his season before it even started - casts a different light on the very first draft selection of general manager Ryan Pace's career.

Without Meredith, the Bears' receiving core is relatively bare bones now and depending on who you ask, one of the worst in the NFL. Someone needs to step up. Someone needs to grow into a prominent role even if potentially initially shoehorned in. The person that will be tested the most in that respect is White. He's going to have to be the No. 1 receiver and his time is now.

From one side, the Bears could feed White most of Meredith's targets, see him come into his own and start to realize his talent at a high level.

From the other, he could crumble under the pressure or be completely ineffective at a higher usage rate, still struggling to get open or in general showing complete discomfort. Ultimately, it'll be up to White whether he passes with flying colors or flunks out altogether.

Everything White does this year can only be achieved by that of which he'll do.


After the two biggest individual Bears roster paradoxes, there's the matter of the two current arguable faces of the team living up to their second-year hype.

Those two men are the similarly amicable and humble, Jordan Howard and Leonard Floyd - mirror reflections of each other on offense and defense.

You might ask yourself, "what does Howard have to prove to anyone after coming in second in the league in rushing as a rookie?"

The obvious answer is that Howard show that he has staying power. That he isn't a one-year wonder. That he's the new Bears' franchise back you can safely log in with other Chicago greats such as Matt Forte, Gale Sayers, and Walter Payton instead of heartbreaking disappointments like the "A-Train" Anthony Thomas or the recently tragically passed away, Rashaan Salaam.

When you average over five yards a carry, rush for 1,313 yards, and score six touchdowns, like Howard did in 2016 - one would think you don't have much higher stars to shoot for. No. Now it's time to prove he's not a fluke. Because everyone's coming for the mantel.

Now it's time for Howard to show everyone he can be a reliable receiver out of the backfield after leading all running backs in drops with eight last year.

Now it's time for Howard to grind out games as best he can as Chicago's official full-time bell-cow: as the primary and defined focal point of the offense.

Everyone's offensive attention with the Bears is centered around Howard. And that's how it'll be with opposing defenses too. How he responds to eight-man boxes, to teams having a year's worth of film on him with a focused effort, will speak volumes for his staying power as one of the league's bright young star runners.

The best part about Howard? He'll do it all with a quiet, internal smile. Never quite letting anyone know he's pleased with his efforts because he's striving for more and more. His play will do all the talking: an old-school approach.

Spoiler alert: Howard will achieve everything that of which he'll be able to do.

Floyd's in a much more contrasting position as a player than the Bears' franchise back.

While he broke out and flashed at times as a rookie when he had seven sacks over an approximate five-week midseason span in 2016, Floyd left a lot to be desired on the field. There was a feeling of wanting more, as if Floyd could've performed at a higher and more consistent level for a variety of factors. Like a shell was left behind with no one to claim it.

Those factors were one of mostly health for Floyd, as he missed four games due to two well-publicized concussions and aspects such as shoulder issues - which immediately had him start on the wrong foot in training camp.

Couple his health with a formerly thin frame and it was easy to see why Floyd could disappear at times. It didn't matter if he possessed a freakish first step if he couldn't put it to good use after being mauled by an opposing offensive tackle.

At a bulked-up 251 pounds with improved tackling and pass rush technique, Floyd is better equipped than ever to fill in the gap of what should've been a special rookie season. He was already a freakish athlete. Now he's a refined freak and he's poised to become one of the league's best defensive players, a true household name, and the face of the Bears defense.

Of any of the current Bears' starters, Floyd could have the best future of them all.

What's special about him is that he's not out to prove it to anyone, or even himself. He knows his talents are there and it's merely time to apply them. Like Howard, a quiet confidence in transcendent ability will speak the most of volumes for Floyd as he keeps other team's offensive coordinators routinely going without sleep.

Floyd, indeed, can achieve all the heights everyone has in mind for him - that of which he'll do.


The 2017 Bears have a lot of pieces in place from the trenches to the backfield. They also have a lot of work to do before they're a championship contender. Before they finally bring the franchise out of a three-plus decade malaise of discontent. And it's not all going to happen this year. It's not going to happen overnight. Not by a long shot. It'll be a continual process, one that has a finish line - in the next couple of years or so - in sight.

For now, 2017 still has a lot of meaning, don't kid yourself. It's the first step in the foundation of what the Bears hope will have them eventually consistently win and stray away from being a national laughingstock. Every game will be another inching of progress or development along this plan. Every single snap another example of growth.

Players like Fuller, White, Howard, and Floyd are all emblems of that contending proof symbolism. All guys at different points in their career with different questions to answer for but all with a common goal, one the Bears as a team will follow over this entire season.

It's their year. They will achieve everything that of which they will do.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.