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The Optimists; Duerrwaechter’s historic fantasy draft breakdown

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Optimist Prime has assembled his team. One that will dominate the competition.

The Bears’ original franchise quarterback.

Recently, I along with several members of the staff for Windy City Gridiron participated in a historic-based fantasy draft for the Chicago Bears. When fans think of Da Bears, they usually think of defense and the ground game. Where my team still has plenty of depth and solid players on defense, my team will dominate the competition in one particular phase.

Offense. Truly, a team I drafted with the modern perspectives of roster building in mind. These perspectives are fundamentally based on building around the QB, and selecting players who have proven themselves productively. Listed below is the full roster for my squad, appropriately named “The Optimists.”

The Optimists

Offense/Special Teams Position Round Selected Overall Selection
Offense/Special Teams Position Round Selected Overall Selection
Sid Luckman QB/SS 1 3rd
Jordan Howard RB 6 46th
Matt Suhey FB 17 131st
Jimbo Covert LT 2 14th
Matt Slauson LG 13 99th
Jay Hilgenberg C 5 35th
Tom Thayer RG 14 110th
Herman Lee RT 16 126th
Greg Olsen TE 11 83rd
Johnny Morris WR 7 51st
Curtis Conway WR 12 94th
Kevin Butler K 21 163rd
Pat O'Donnell P 25 195th
Defense Position Round Selected Overall Selection
Larry Morris LB 8 62nd
Ron Rivera LB 20 158th
Ron Cox LB 24 190th
Mark Anderson DE 23 179th
Chris Zorich DT 22 174th
Tommie Harris DT 4 30th
Willie Young DE/OLB 10 78th
Akiem Hicks DL 9 67th
Charles Tillman CB 3 19th
Walt Harris CB 19 147th
Eddie Jackson FS 15 115th
Danieal Manning SS/KR 18 142nd

From the very beginning, I set the tone by picking the best QB in the history of the Bears’ franchise. He, Sid Luckman, is the lone true QB in the Bears’ fabled list of players enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Throughout his entire career, Luckman led the Bears to four NFL championships, led the NFL in all passing statistics three times, and was named an All-Pro for five different seasons. He led the franchise in every single passing record, until Jay Cutler finally surpassed him in 2016. He retired from the NFL in 1950; his records stood for over 66 years! From a modern day perspective, he was my number one “must have” player on my board at 3rd overall.

I spent the rest of my draft assembling the best possible cast around Luckman, as well as finding good value on defense. Needless to say, it was much easier for me to build a defense, than it was for the rest of the crew to build their offenses. Especially with the top QB off the board.

Outside of selecting Luckman, my class has several other notable highlights, particularly my offensive line. Some of the team’s overall highlights are as follows.

  • Jordan Howard is the first running back in Bears’ history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. This includes players like Walter Payton, Matt Forte, and Gale Sayers.
  • Johnny Morris is, still, the Bears’ all-time leading receiver. Played for the 1963 championship team as well.
  • Charles “Peanut” Tillman is the Bears’ franchise leader in interceptions, defensive touchdowns, and total takeaways. He will eventually be in the Hall of Fame.
  • Three of my starting O-linemen — Covert, Hilgenberg, and Thayer — started for the 1985 edition of the Black and Blue Brothers, the best O-Line in Bears’ history.
  • Four of my starting O-Linemen — Covert, Hilgenberg, Thayer, Lee — paved the way for two of the Bears’ championships (1963, 1985).
  • Curtis Conway was the first Bears receiver to ever record back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in receiving yards.
  • Kevin Butler is 2nd all-time in total points scored, and was part of the Bears’ Super Bowl season of 1985.
  • Larry Morris was the MVP of the 1963 championship game, and a member of the 1960’s all-decade team.
  • Eddie Jackson is the only player in NFL history with two 75+ yard defensive touchdowns in the same game. And he did this as a rookie in 2017.
  • Mark Anderson set the Bears’ rookie record in total sacks during the 2006 season with 12.
  • Willie Young is, currently, the last Bears player to record double digits in sacks within a single season (10 in 2014). Akiem Hicks is the closest with 8 in 2017.
  • Pat O’Donnell is the Bears’ current franchise leader in career punting average, with 44.9 yards per punt.

Another unique aspect of my team, is how I have the flexibility to run either a 3-4 or a 4-3 type of front within the Bears’ base defense.

History was made in 2015 when the Bears introduced the first-ever 3-4 front in the franchise’s long history, and a key piece to what has become a top ten unit is current D-Lineman Akiem Hicks. I have him in a rotation with Pro Bowlers Tommie Harris and Chris Zorich at DT, with the option to kick him out at end with Willie Young at OLB. I could, also, keep Zorich and Harris as my tackles, and pair Young with Anderson as my bookends in a 4-3 style alignment. In my 4-3, Ron Cox would come in at Linebacker, where he was a solid contributor when called upon. I could also run a 4-3 “over” front, with Young at OLB and Anderson paired with Hicks at End. I’ll certainly have more than enough beef up front.

Oh, and my secondary will score touchdowns while taking the ball away, too. As I mentioned earlier, it is only a matter of time before Peanut is enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Walt Harris was a consistent starter, and a rare bright spot during the 90’s while Michael McCaskey ran the team. Danieal Manning, when left alone in one spot, produced at a respectable level. And then there’s the potential star in Eddie Jackson.

Back to offense, I have them set up to run a traditional “pro” set. Led by 4-time NFL champion Sid Luckman at QB, I also have a strong O-Line anchored by potential hall of famers in Hilgenberg and Covert. To take advantage of the talent at QB and the O-Line, I assembled a balanced set of skill players between the receiving corps — this includes TE Greg Olsen — and the backs with Matt Suhey as well as Jordan Howard. I can run the ball with authority, or set up a potent play-action based passing game to burn everyone else over the top. Luckman-to-Morris would, theoretically, form the Bears’ most productive tandem in franchise history. You know, balance; something Mike Martz along with a majority of other coordinators in Bears history could never figure out.

If needed, I also have a solid punter in O’Donnell to pin my opponents deep, and Kevin Butler was a great kicker. Danieal Manning was a fantastic kick returner in his own right.

Overall, my team is not only strong in all phases of the game, but it’s a squad that has a ton of productive players at each position. I may not have the most hall of famers on my team, not as of this moment at least. Yet, I have players representing six of the Bears’ total nine championships. The overall production of my team cannot be ignored.

I, am Optimist Prime. And we, are the Optimists. Optimists, Roll-Out!