For 30 years now, anything good that happened to the Chicago Bears was assuredly an accident. The only time they ever seemed streamlined was in the middle of the 2000s when they had a GM that hired his own coach, which was Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith. That was the only time they’ve made the playoffs in consecutive years since the fucking 90s. Still is, in fact.
Every other time, the team was some kind of swamp thing of a concoction, with coaches forced upon GMs, or vice versa, and the car crash of differing plans coming together at Halas Hall.
Sometimes it worked, as the wreckage from whatever the previously arranged marriage left over just enough pieces for the next one to cobble some bionic creature to be good. That’s what happened in 2001 when Mike Brown would sneeze and have an overtime INT just land in his hands and return it for a touchdown. That’s what happened in 2018, when the end of the John Fox what-have-ya left just enough defensive players lying around to be a dominant unit that dragged the Mitch Trubisky offense along. Neither lasted more than that one season, because they were built on the sand of expedience.
But that was always the problem. With no cohesion for decades and no clear thought from year to year, there was always a unit that was ahead of the other one, and they had to make up just enough on the deficient side to keep it all together. That’s why Rex Grossman was foisted upon you all for a Super Bowl, because the Bears had a Super Bowl-worthy defense but had to come up with something, anything, on offense. It wasn’t streamlined.
Ditto 2018, when Ryan Pace, despite himself, assembled a pretty killer defense, but then had to jam anything on offense down the chute to make it representative. Weren’t on the same timeline. One peaked, one didn’t, and then soon all was lost as Matt Nagy stared blankly on from underneath that fucking visor.
Oh don’t worry, there are a lot of angry meatballs around this town today (I mean there always are, but today it’s pointed in one direction instead of in all of them while they move to the suburbs mumbling something about taxes). They’ve never seen a true rebuild, at least not with the Bears. It’s still kind of rare in the NFL, to watch a team tear it down to the studs. The league is filled with so much generic Oreo filling that you’re never more than a couple of good draft picks and signings from 9, 10, or even 11 wins. But that’s all you’ll get, and probably only for a season, maybe two. It’s too tempting for most. Playoff berths extend time on the job, after all. This is kind of a first for the Blue and Orange.
On the surface, trading a 25-year-old linebacker like Roquan Smith, who has flashed being one of the best in the game at times, doesn’t make a lot of sense. But getting a second and fifth from the Ravens is quite a bounty, especially when you consider that Von Miller netted a second and a third last year at the deadline and he plays a much more important position. GM Ryan Poles knows that the secondary and defensive line are the far more important sections of the defense. It’s becoming clear he knows the offense will need an overhaul. When you need two receivers, two offensive linemen, and at least the same number of defensive linemen, you’re probably not tempted to spend yet another summer explaining to Roquan why you can’t pay him $20 million a year because he represents himself like a jackass. You have to pile up the draft picks and keep the cap space powder dry.
It may work. It may not. What can’t be questioned is that for the first time in a long time, if ever, the Bears are streamlined. There is a plan, one being followed from the top down. Poles still has to nail a majority of the now nine picks he has in the draft (more may come later today before the trade deadline if he feels like jettisoning more of what isn’t battened down). He doesn’t have to use all the canyon of cap space he has now, but whatever he chooses to use better be crisp. The opportunity is exciting, but we’ve seen enough go sour around these parts to check ourselves before going overboard. Yet, it’s coming though.
More importantly, the Bears just might have the most important question answered. It’s only been two weeks in a row, and there’s still more road to cover, but Justin Fields flashes being the foundational piece the Bears have simply never had. They have all the ammo now to flank him with the help he’ll need. Much like we thought at the 2021 draft, they have the best QB from it. And we think that the more Trevor Lawrence continues to resemble Wild Thing Vaughn before he got glasses every Sunday.
The Bills did this. Three straight playoff appearances and are now the best team in the conference. The Dolphins did this and now have everyone’s attention, at least when they’re not actively killing both their quarterbacks.
It isn’t pleasant, and the next 10 weeks could be a very hard watch at times. But it’s sensible. It’s clearly thought out. It’s streamlined. All the things the Bears have never been. What a world.