The Chicago Bears have been around for a long time. They were dominant in the early years of the NFL. They racked up their fair share of championships, yes, but they were normally in the hunt even if they didn’t bring home a trophy. The Bears hit a remarkable 203 games over .500 in 1963, the last championship of George Halas’s great coaching career.
Since then, it’s been a whole lot of mediocrity.
This first chart shows the number of wins over .500 the Bears sit since their first season in 1920, marked out with some notes for peaks and valleys. The best mark for the Bears came after the 1991 seasons at +210, but the franchise has struggled to get back to that mark since then. After Sunday’s loss to the Bucs, the Bears sit at +178 games over .500, which is still a great mark until you realize they initially crossed that threshold in the 1950s.
Take a look at the same chart, broken down by coaching careers. Coaches with an overall positive record get a blue transparent highlight and those below water get an orange background. Obviously, Halas is interesting in the first part of the team’s history, with four different 10-year stints. His interim coaches did just fine overall as well. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Halas remained in stint #4 a little too long and didn’t capitalize on giving the job to the in-house heir-apparent, George Allen.
Since that moment, it’s been a struggle with the exception of Mike Ditka, Lovie Smith, and, even though no one wants to read this in late October, 2021, Matt Nagy. The other 8 coaches are all underwater with losing records. Nagy might be run out of town at the end of the 2021 season, but he could keep his record in the positive territory.
So, how does this compare to the other franchises that have been around for a long time? I mapped the eight oldest franchises to take a look. Unfortunately, one franchise recently overtook the Bears in the number of wins above .500.
Yep, it’s the one in green. Yet again, the Bears mediocrity has squandered their all-time records. But then again, as you can see from the bottom red line representing the Cardinals, it could be worse.
Find me on Twitter @gridironborn to keep the conversation going.