There are four key reasons to be bullish on the Bears and jump on the Chicago Bears bandwagon.
Chicago is a city that’s, quite literally, built on its own history. The Second City received its nickname as an homage to the reconstruction that took place after the devastating tragedy that was the Great Chicago Fire. Heck, even the MLS team gets its name from this horrific affair. Chicago is very much a phoenix; from its ashes, it is reborn into a beautiful flame, only to one day burn out again.
Even in honoring the past, the past still finds ways of haunting the present. The ‘85 Bears, a point of civic pride from Uptown down to Hyde Park, from the Lakeshore to Logan Square, have become ghosts of what once was greatness. Those Bears were a team that was fashioned in the mold of a 46 defense, an unparalleled run game led by a player who’d be on the position’s Mt. Rushmore, and a brash quarterback who wore punishment like it was part of his jersey. All these years later, that team that won it all, would become the model for every edition since. Does history repeat itself? The Chicago Bears sure hoped so.
In the nearly forty years since the Bears hoisted the trophy named after their rival’s chief architect, the league has drastically evolved. Teams today aren’t built to prioritize stout defenses and solid running games, as much as they are built to spread the field into dimensions Mike Ditka didn’t even dream of.
The NFL nowadays is a sport that more resembles basketball in terms of its spacing and speed than the rugby scrum style that the ‘85 Bears had known as a calling card. Leave history for the history books, the rest of the league said, innovation is what wins championships now. If you need any proof, look at the mad scientists now who are the model for the winning Super Bowls in the NFL: the Kansas City Chiefs with Andy Reid and his Dr. Seuss-esque playbook, along with an all-wonder Patrick Mahomes.
Today’s Bears are at a crossroads. After a season that ended in a 10-game losing streak, the Bears hold the number one overall draft pick in the upcoming draft. It’s a slot that’s reserved for the worst team with the most need of talent. Currently, the team is a barren cupboard of potential.
The one bright spot is a quarterback who plays with the reckless, win-at-all-cost mentality that is befitting of a Disney movie rather than a last-place franchise. Last season, quarterback Justin Fields must’ve gotten the memo about Chicago being in love with its own history, and paid tribute with every bone-crushing hit to ‘85 Bear quarterback, Jim McMahon. With each electrifying run came another cruel, albeit unnecessary, hit on Fields. Chicago fans would worry if Fields would make it to next season.
Those outside of the friendly confines of the city look at the Bears and don’t see much to be excited about. They see a team that’s lost 10 games straight, with a quarterback who plays as if he’s a glutton for punishment, and a roster full of nobodies. They see a city too obsessed with its own history to move forward.
Let them think that. Because now is the time to be bullish on the Bears. You get one chance to jump on the bandwagon before it takes off to the promised land, and this is it. Because underneath the years of disappointment, and reminiscing the glory days of 1985, right now there is real reason to be excited about the promise of tomorrow.
Why to be Bullish on the Bears
1. The number one pick should be traded and could fetch a massive haul
The Bears will most likely trade the number one pick, and if they do, should receive a massive haul.
There are only four quarterbacks in this year’s draft many analysts consider worth taking. Yet there are many more quarterback-needy teams all playing a game of liar’s poker trying to stake a claim at one of the handful of quarterbacks available.
There are a multitude of ways the Bears could trade down, perhaps multiple times, and further bolster their draft arsenal. This is a team with many, many holes to fill and a quarterback on the roster still on his rookie deal. General Manager, Ryan Poles, should be looking to build up a stockpile of picks and create a strong, youthful foundation.
2. The Bears enter the 2023 free agency period with the most cap space available
The best part of building a strong foundation of rookie players is the ability to afford key veterans on more expensive deals.
The Bears enter the free agency period with the most cap space of any team, a whopping $98.6M. This is nearly double the next closest team (Atlanta Falcons with $56.4M). The problem with the draft is there is virtually no such thing as a sure thing. This is why the quantity of picks is so important.
But successful team building also requires opening up the purse strings on tried and true players who have already shown they can be great. There’s going to be a lot of money spent in Chicago, and it’s not just going to be happening on Michigan Avenue.
3. Justin Fields’ threat as a runner will allow his ability as a passing to develop
Justin Fields has proven over the course of his young career that he is on the short list of most dangerous runners in the league.
There are few threats as great as Justin Fields deciding to tuck it and run. Despite two relatively disappointing seasons as a passer, Fields proved he was as accurate as anyone when at Ohio State. Fields benefitted in Columbus by having talented wide receivers who found ways of getting open, and an offensive line that allowed him to hang in the pocket without getting crushed (although many Buckeye fans still grimace when thinking of the rib cage-rattling hit he took against Clemson in the playoffs).
The Bears should use their draft and free agency capital to put pieces around Fields that put him in a position to allow his natural passing ability to shine. His run game will always have to be respected by opposing defenses. Hopefully, he can still flourish as a runner, but by choice rather than necessity.
4. There could be a changing of the guard in the NFC North
If you haven’t heard, Aaron Rodgers may have played his last down in Lambeau. The future hall of famer may be emerging from the darkness retreat only to play for the brightest of lights in New York City with the New York Jets.
This sets up the NFC North Division to be up for the taking. The Detroit Lions have shown vast improvement under Dan Campbell, but are still unlikely to make the leap to top of the division. The Minnesota Vikings had every ball bounce their way last year to a stunning 13-4 record only to end in an early playoff exit. Expect some reversion to the mean in Minneapolis.
Could a solid draft and a spending spree in free agency be enough for the Bears to become kings of the north? I’m bullish on the Bears.
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