If there’s a place one can take solace in seeing the Bears often aimless, it’s how many other NFL teams are in an even worse Purgatory. Schadenfreude is a powerful tool, and it’s straightforward to get caught up in when following professional football.
One organization not typically used to floundering about, but one certainly with arguably less of a rudder than the Bears at the moment, is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since 2000, only the Patriots — thanks to the Tom-Brady-Bill Belichick unicorn of a run — have won more games than the Steelers. Only the Steelers (and Patriots) have a ring for the other hand in the Super Bowl era. And unequivocally, Pittsburgh is one of the most successful and prestigious NFL teams ever.
Yet, for everything they’ve accomplished, they seem to be more interested in holding onto the past, even as it leaves their grasp. Since getting smacked around by the Jaguars in the 2017 playoffs, it’s been ever clear that the Ben Roethlisberger era — the second-most successful era in Steelers history — was on its last gasps. But Pittsburgh has continued to trot out a quarterback whose arm and overall ability have seemingly only diminished by each passing year. The Steelers are currently 4-3, but you’d be hard-pressed to get me to take them seriously as a roster that can make noise in January: where their aspirations lie. That hollow “everything is okay” approach is much to the detriment of a still-talented team that could have at least used a replacement plan to have in place (Mason Rudolph doesn’t count).
I don’t know where the Steelers go once Roethlisberger (likely) retires after the 2021 season. Frankly, given the melancholy that pervades throughout the NFL, I think it’s about time they “enjoy” a down decade or two, to even things out. For once, I feel better about the Bears, with Justin Fields in place (regardless of what their plan is for him), than I do about a proper premier organization that’s just trying to stay above water for the first time in years. And I think that’s notable.
Windy City Gridiron picks Bears-Steelers and every other NFL game in Week 9.