The Los Angeles Rams are one of the best stories of the 2017 NFL season. Second-year quarterback Jared Goff and first-year head coach Sean McVay are currently on top of the world.
In a deep dive for ESPN, NFL expert Bill Barnwell broke down how the Rams were able to turn things around so quickly to become legit contenders in 2017 and what teams he feels are most likely to follow a similar path in 2018.
Barnwell named three teams — the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — before getting to the Chicago Bears, who he ranked as the most likely to be the Rams of 2018.
“There is infrastructure here,” Barnwell wrote, after pointing out the Bears will have a new head coach next year and Mitchell Trubisky will be a second-year quarterback. “Hire the right coach, sign a No. 1 wide receiver in an interesting free-agent class, and get lucky. Maybe Chicago gets a full season out of Kevin White, or Adam Shaheen takes a sophomore leap. Kyle Fuller, who was written off as a disappointment for years, suddenly looks like a starting cornerback. Maybe the Bears re-sign him and draft another cornerback in the first round and their defense sneaks into the top 10.
“The quantitative case isn’t bad, either. The Bears are 2-5 in one-score games this season. They were a drop away from beating the Falcons in Week 1. They were starting a drive with a chance to win a tied game in Trubsiky’s debut start, only for an interception to set up the game-winning field goal. Connor Barth missed a 46-yard field goal that would have beaten the Lions. They’ve played what Football Outsiders pegs to be the second-toughest schedule in football so far.”
Barnwell’s piece is worth a read in its entirety — it’s incredible how many things have fallen into place to elevate the Rams to legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
In a season that hasn’t provided much positivity other than Trubisky and his future, a small glimmer of hope is a big thing for Bears fans to hold on to.
Lead image via Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune
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