The NFL offseason is a time that fans of all thirty-two teams can start fresh with a clean slate and squarely focus on the coming year. I think it’s fitting that an NFL offseason truly ramps up the excitement in the springtime (with free agency and the NFL Draft), because the saying “hope springs eternal” can shoehorn its way into football fans vocabulary for a few months. And I know that phrase has nothing to do with the yearly seasons, I just like the play on words.
Fans of good teams can dissect how their team can build off their previous season’s success to come out stronger than ever. They can imagine how a tweak here or a tweak there can keep their team on the right path towards the postseason.
For fans of crappy teams, this means it’s a season of retooling. So what if your favorite team is coming off consecutive losing seasons and the current offseason has been littered with drama. Who cares if your quarterback is 35-years old with a recent history of injuries. All it takes is some pricey free agent signings and a new draft class, and high expectations are back again.
This brings me to the 2019 Chicago Bears, the defending NFC North champions. It’s been a while since the Bears had any sustained success, so would you consider the Bears among the NFL’s top teams?
We’ll know for sure this fall, but for now the arrow is pointing up. The betting odds makers are nearly unanimous in calling the Bears the favorites to win the NFC North again, and their Super Bowl odds are usually lingering around the top five from most sports-books.
Some would lead us to believe the Bears lucked into their 12-4 record. But for fans that actually follow the Bears, we’ve watched general manager Ryan Pace methodically transform the franchise from a laughing stock — and yes, it was that bad — into a team that other franchises want to emulate.
The Bears are returning 90% of their starting lineup. Only one projected starter is currently 30-years old. The culture around the franchise has made Chicago a destination for free agents. The last few drafts have provided All-Pros, Pro Bowlers, and some damn good football players. While there were a few players that had career years in 2018, there are plenty of others that has their best football in front of them.
Some would lead us to believe that the 2018 Bears are in for a fall back down the standings, but their reasoning usually revolves around the illogical premise that ‘there’s no way the Bears can do it again,’ or the suddenly popular, ‘Mitchell Trubisky is bad.’
The first one is just ignorant, and the second one borders on trollish.
Look, I get it, the perception that the Bears “reached” for Trubisky will never die, and the fact that he’ll always be linked to league MVP Patrick Mahomes will always hang over his head, but Trubisky played good football in 2018. Is there room to improve? Most definitely. His accuracy, which was higher than Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson, just to name a few, could stand to improve. Even though he hit on 66.6% of his passes, he wasn’t always hitting his receivers in stride. He was learning a new system and he was working with several new players, so that’s something that takes time to master. His command of the overall offense was also a work in progress, but the improvement from week one to week seventeen was a beautiful thing to witness.
I’m not the biggest believer in using only stats to gauge a player, but when considering this was Trubisky’s first full year as a starter in the NFL, and he ended up ranked 16th in the traditional passer rating and third in ESPN’s QBR, then where do the ‘he’s was bad’ takes come into play?
If anyone actually watched every snap of Trubisky in 2018 and still came away thinking he’s not an ascending player, then I question their football acumen. When the only metric used to judge a 24-year old signal caller as a “bad player” is a grading service, then I question the graders themselves.
I expect fans of rival teams to try and shit on the Bears, but when NFL “experts” fabricate things that support their personal biases, then that’s a problem.
There are a lot of media members that were wrong about the 2018 Chicago Bears and that eats away at them. They can’t stand being wrong, and their egos are driving their narratives about the possible 2019 version of the Bears. They can’t wait to be right again if the Bears slip, but deep down they know that’s not likely and that tears them up. So their next step is to try and drum up social media support so when they’re proven wrong then they can all be wrong together.
Misery loves company, so here’s to making the other thirty-one fanbases miserable in 2019.