“Hope Springs Eternal”
The Chicago Bears are the one of the charter franchises of the NFL. With a rich and storied history, the Chicago Bears Franchise 99th season has truly been one for the ages.
This time last year Bears fans and my compatriots at the Bears Barroom https://bearsbarroom.com/category/bears-barroom-radio-network/ were spending our time campaigning lustily for the firing of the Bears inept and befuddling head coach John Fox.
We were wondering if Mitchell Trubisky could and would build on the fleeting flashes of promise he showed under the constraints of a limited offense with even more limited weapons.
Even the most Bears faithful were questioning Ryan Pace as a young GM who had taken on the enormous task of re-tooling a roster decimated by years of poor drafting & terrible free agent signings.
Bears Barroom analysts were looking at the upcoming draft & wondering if there were players who could contribute right away to reverse the fortunes of team that hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2010.
What a difference a year makes.
This December we sit awaiting the final game of the regular season and all the conversation is of Playoffs and potential. The team is 11-4 with a championship level defense and an offense with ability the likes of which Bears fans have rarely if ever seen. The words Super Bowl are being thrown around, as the sky is truly the limit for this team.
The turnaround for this Bears team was one that few saw coming this quickly.
I had high hopes for this season back in March prior to the draft for a few reasons:
- The Hiring of Matt Nagy- this disciple of Andy Reid was one of the most sought after coaching candidates and was at the helm of one the league’s best offenses in Kansas City. The pairing of him and Trubisky seemed almost too good to be true.
- The signings of real top flight offensive weapons like Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson, and Trey Burton
- The return of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio who had presided over a unit which was top ten in 2017 despite having to carry an anemic offense. A defense that had the Bears in many games despite their poor record.
- The success of Ryan Pace in the 2017 draft finding Tarik Cohen, Adam Shaheen, Eddie Jackson and of course the both maligned and lauded ever polarizing Mitch Trubisky. I felt all of these to be building block pieces which under a new coach should have the Bears improving greatly.
I went out on a limb and predicted this team would go 11-5 even before the draft and the moves that would follow. https://twitter.com/aarontor/status/974831432983044097
Ryan Pace proceeded to have a draft that GMs dream about. Drafting impact players at almost every pick.
Roquan Smith- LB Georgia a day one starting Linebacker with amazing instincts and true sideline to sideline speed. His contract holdout notwithstanding Roquan has had an amazing rookie year and if it were not for missing training camp would most likely be in the Pro Bowl
Anthony Miller-WR- Memphis A receiver who plays like he has been in the league for years and a true weapon for Trubisky on a team suddenly stacked with them. He hit the rookie wall a bit in the last quarter of the season but is coming on of late and is sure to be a factor in the playoffs.
James Daniels- G Iowa This kid has stepped in become a rock solid starter at left guard. The highlight of his rookie campaign being when he and the O-Line neutralized the best defensive player in the league Aaron Donald. This came in arguably the Bears signature victory of the season an amazing upset over the LA Rams; a team that many had as the best in the league at that time.
Pace also added depth pieces and contributors on defense and special teams in Bilal Nichols-DL who has had standout performances on the defensive line. Joel Iyiegbuniwe-LB who has become a special team stalwart, Kylie Fitts-LB who has seen some playing time in spots and shows promise to develop into pass rusher of the future. Javon Wims-WR who many saw as talent warranting a much higher pick and showed flashes of great potential in the pre-season.
Then Ryan Pace hit a walk off home run by trading for Khalil Mack, a top 2 or 3 defensive player in the NFL. This move immediately took expectations to the next level. Mack is truly a game changer. Bears Barroom Radio https://twitter.com/BearsBarroom hosts and analysts Draft Dr. Phil https://twitter.com/FulphilO , Shayne "the smartest Man in The Barroom" https://twitter.com/wasram & Danny Shimon https://twitter.com/dshimon56 among others had tabbed edger rusher as a top need for this team. From the moment Khlail Mack stepped on the field he has shown the ability to change the game with his pass rushing and turnover creating ability. The addition of Mack took this already solid defense from a top 10 to a top two unit.
Pace has brought in high character, high motor and highly motivated players almost across the board. He seems to have a knack for finding the player with top talent that has been overlooked or undervalued for some reason. Eddie Jackson has been the prime example. A highly rated prospect who fell in the draft due to an injury has become one of the top safeties in the game and was recently named to pro-bowl. He has already amassed historic numbers in returned interceptions for touchdowns matching numbers in 2 seasons that others compiled in four.
Ryan Pace is truly having a season that warrants the Executive of the Year award.
His crowning hire & off-season move however may be hiring Matt Nagy.
Matt Nagy has truly changed the culture and built a winning attitude that permeated all levels of this team from Halas Hall to of course the play on the field.
What difference a year makes, headed into week 17 and then the playoffs this Bears team is truly a team, which can play with a beat anyone. A team that one year ago was a laughing stock has now become a team which many respected national pundits are predicting could go all the way.
What a difference a year makes, despair & disappointment has gone away the city and fan base are energized and Hope it seems once again truly springs Eternal