Watching the nation celebrate President Joe Biden’s inauguration, I was reminded how good change can feel. I am very realistic in how divided our nation is, but whether you voted Biden or Trump, change always feels cathartic to me. Like the changing of the seasons, life would be boring without change. Change can feel overwhelming, confusing, but most of all exciting. Whether you want the change or not, things change and we are forced to roll with the new world as it is being created.
Watching all this change and the celebration reminded just how infuriated I still am at the Chicago Bears for not making the changes that needed to be made. After this mediocre season, followed by a 30 year run of mediocrity, the Chicago Bears find themselves where they have been for the better part of the last 3 decades, in football hell. They have no quarterback as usual but they aren’t terrible. They have a few players that are pretty good. I thought Khalil Mack was great. I do not believe he is great anymore. He is very good, not elite. The tape doesn’t lie, Khalil Mack is good, not great.
Allen Robinson is very good. I would put him outside the top ten of receivers in the league but he is a get open guy. Not a go up and get it guy, not a YAC guy, he uses sweet get off to come open in the intermediate passing game and would be the games best WR2 on a potent offense. So the Chicago Bears have a few players. They are not Jaguars bad but until they figure the QB position they will never be Chiefs great. Or Packers great. Or wherever Tom Brady plays great. They will be average.
Fans of any NFL team must realize that either you have a great QB or you really don’t matter. Sure from time to time a Brad Johnson or a Rex Grossman or a Trent Dilfer or a Nick Foles can make and sometimes win a Super Bowl but I believe those days are all but done. They are an outlier. Very few teams in the modern NFL can make a run to the bowl without a great QB. The salary cap, the draft, everything is tilted so all NFL teams can be 8-8. Then the great QB teams and teams that stay healthy and get on a roll become 12-4 and some teams get hurt at key positions and they become 4-12. That’s the way it works.
Bear Down – It’s Hard Being a Bears Fan
My feeling toward the Chicago Bears is this: I’m approaching apathy. I’m almost over the anger portion of my disgruntled fandom. My father purchased season tickets to the Bears in 1970, the last year the Bears would play in Wrigley Field. The next season the Bears moved into Soldier Field and my father and myself have been Bears season ticket holders ever since. The greatest memory of my sports life wasn’t the Cubs 2016 World Series, because by then my father had past away. He never saw a Cubs World Series win and for me, as great as that was, it wasn’t nearly as special because my dad wasn’t there.
No, my greatest sports memory is the Chicago Bears beating the New Orleans Saints in the snow and winning the NFC Championship sitting right next to my dad. We aren’t criers, my father and I, but tears were flowing that day. He saw two Chicago Bears Championships in his life, 1963 and of course, 1985. But he told me this was the happiest he had ever been since being a Chicago Bears fan. Sharing a Bears NFC championship with his son in Soldier Field.
Through all of my suffering from the time I was 8 years old until I was 25, the Bears were an after thought. I never really even thought of the Bears going to the playoffs as a kid. I always had to have my “second” favorite team ready to go for the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I couldn’t even imagine the Bears being in the Super Bowl. They never had a great QB so as a 10 year old, I thought it was impossible to make a Super Bowl without a great QB. My 10 year old self knew more than this current Bears regime.
From 2007 up to this season, the Bears made 1 more NFC championship game, but in true Chicago Bears fashion they lost to the Packers with Caleb Hanie taking the final Bears snaps because being the Bears and being so on brand, of course a guy named Caleb Hanie would be playing in a Bears NFC championship game. Same ole, same ole. The Bears as currently constructed are no further than they were in that 2010 game or in the 2007 Super Bowl, nor throughout the 90’s, 80’s, or 70’s. The 1985 Bears team was similar to all the one off super bowl teams. Okay QB, great team. Just like the Ravens in 2000, the Bucs in 2002, and the Eagles in 2017. Great team, ok QB, plays well enough to win. Other than that the Super Bowl and Conference Championships games are dominated by great Quarterbacks.
Here is where my anger began. In 2017 the Bears held the 3rd pick overall. There were 3 1st round QB prospects and the Bears failed to draft the right one. It’s so Bears. Ryan Pace the current GM didn’t ever hold post draft tryout meetings with DeShaun Watson. He in his infinite wisdom believer it was either Mitch or Mahomes and there was no reason to even take a meeting with DeShaun. What the hell? DeShaun of course at that time was coming off of two of the most impressive season in college football history. It was disrespectful, its was raging incompetence and that entire process deserved a pink slip when it inevitably failed.
Ryan Pace belongs in the hall of fame of incompetence. His decision to not only draft Mitch Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes AND Deshaun Watson should be fireable in its own right, but the fact he traded up 1 spot to make that choice should have had him suffer lashings on top of his firing. It is in my opinion the worst draft day mistake in history. Not just for the pick, but he gave up assets to be wrong. He was so convinced that Mitch Trubisky would be head and shoulders above Mahomes and Watson that he had to have him. He had to move up or he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself. So here we are, 2021. The move failed and the Chicago Bears will live with the consequences of that incompetence for the next decade. They would have been a hands down dynasty had they chose either Mahomes or Watson, but they didn’t and now they once again have no Quarterback.
If I was George McCaskey, I would have fired both Pace and Matt Nagy after the Packers debacle in week 12. The Bears were still vying for a playoff position even though they lost 4 in a row. They were coming off a bye and by the end of the 3rd quarter they were down 41-10. They were embarrassed as they usually are by the Packers. Then, on top of that embarrassment, McCaskey, who has never fired a coach or GM in season watched as the following week the Bears blew a 30-20 lead with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter to the lowly Lions. A Lions team that will once again be drafting the top 10 of the NFL draft, that was without 2 key offensive weapons in DeAndre Swift and Kenny Golladay. A bad team, at home, trying to snap a 5 game losing streak, the Bears found a way to lose but the coach and GM found a way to stay employed. It boggles the mind.
Every Half a Decade, They Will Speak
Every 6 years or so, Chicago Bears fans are treated to truly blessed event, a Bears Brass Press Conference. I am beginning to believe the writers of the Bears press conferences are the same who wrote all of President Trumps press conferences. Say a lot and say nothing, lie, and have infuriating comments that condescend a fanbase that is dying for a franchise QB and a winner in Solder Field. “Have we got the quarterback position right? No. Have we won enough game? No. But everything else is there.” Those are words actually said out loud by the the king of Bears failures, Chicago Bears President Ted Phillips. He is the face of failure. Since he became team President in February of 1999, the Bears have gone 171 and 181. They have made the playoffs 6 times if you include the 7th playoff spot this year. They have won a grand total of 3 playoff games in that time. They have been bad. Not horrible but as I said the definition of mediocre.
This was the perfect year to make a change. Once the Mitch experiment blew up as many knew it would it was time to move on from Ryan Pace. For any of the good Pace has done and there has been some good, the 2017 move is fireable. Bears fans are pissed. I’m pissed. I have to watch Patrick Mahomes be the GOAT for the next 15 years and chase down Tom Brady. While Mitch will hold a clipboard for Arthur Smith for the next 5 years and become the new Chase Daniels. A millionaire backup that plays 9 snaps a year. The press conference wasn’t only bad it was insulting.
The Bears are in a terrible spot. They have a bottom third roster, 30 restricted and unrestricted free agents and are in the bottom third of all NFL teams in cap space. They have the 20th pick in the draft thanks to beating bum-slayers and beating bum teams like the Lions, Jaguars, and Texans. They of course are right back in that blazing inferno known as football hell. No Quarterback, no prospect of landing a quarterback, no money, and no assets. In other words, no chance of winning in 2021. The decision to not change is respectable in the NFL. I believe in continuity. I believe in staying the course and not hiring a new GM every 6 years and a new head coach every 3 years. Most of the great teams have that consistency, of course most of the great teams also have a great Quarterback.
Change Because You Must
The point of change should be when things are working its time to move on and the Bears are broken. They are merely delaying the inevitable, only they are staring down a potential top 5 pick next year. Maybe in the end that will work best for the Bears. Maybe there is a franchise QB in 2022 that can lead the Chicago Bears to glory but maybe first are steps toward failure. I ask all Bears fans this, why stick around next year? Allen Robinson is going to walk. Nick Foles will be the starting QB, the defense will be another year older and the GM and coach are going to do anything they can to save their jobs. Meaning, making even more foolish decisions that will impact the franchise long after they are gone.
Look at last year. In a year where Nagy and Pace were on the hot seat after a blah 2019, they signed Robert Quinn, an aging edge rusher to an obscene 5 year contract. GM’s can submarine franchise well past the current year. Now the Bears are old, they have bad contracts, on a bad team and they are about to be one of the worst teams in football next year.
This was the year to make the switch. Allow a new GM to come in and decide, one more year with Nagy or a fresh coaching staff? Keep Kyle Fuller and or Akeim Hicks or trade them a year before they walk or fall off the age cliff? Trade Khalil Mack now while there is only 3 years left on his deal and possibly recoup a 2nd round pick or let him go out and get his 7-9 sacks? Go all in for a new QB this year, or let Nick Foles take you to the promise land of a top 5 pick next year. Franchise Allen Robinson and hope you get 6 wins or let ARob bounce and hopefully find a good team? All decisions were based on Mitchell don’t call me Mitch Trubisky being good and Pace went all in. He pushed his chips to the middle of the table, traded away 2 1st round picks for Mack, signed veteran defensive players to long term contracts and said it is Super Bowl or bust. Well buster, it busted.
Where do we go from here? Who knows. The decision to not change seems like a disaster. Pace will definitely try to find a franchise quarterback but does anyone trust the man that paid $18 million for Mike Glennon to start 4 games? Then traded up to not draft Mahomes or Watson but instead to draft a career backup QB. Or the guy who actually traded another assets in a 4th round pick only to pay Nick Foles $20 plus over two seasons? Glennon, Mitch, Foles. But the Bears brass trust this man to make another choice at QB? Ok, we have all seen this movie before. It will fail, he is failure, he is bad at his job and he deserves to go.
There is no move that will save Ryan Pace’s job except possibly trading 4 first round picks for Watson. Which would still be the funniest thing to explain to his boss. Sorry sir, I know I could have stayed at 3 and drafted Watson 4 years ago and we would be competing for Super Bowls but if you just let me mortgage the future to bring him in we will be winners once again. Its utterly ridiculous. Pace has drafted some good players in the late rounds but the only quarterback he has drafted in 6 drafts has been Mitch. That right there could also get him fired. Pace is a dude that saw Drew Brees up close and personal in New Orleans and he is a dude who said I will draft a QB every year until I get it right. Welp, he has draft 1 QB in 6 years, that dude was nothing like Drew Brees, and the Bears have been laughable on offense ever since. It’s disgraceful that man still has a job.
I am more lenient on Matt Nagy staying but again, after the Packers debacle, and the Lions loss, Nagy should have been shown the door as well. The bottom line is that in order to be a great coach you need a great QB and Nagy has had Mitch, Chase, Nick, and the great Tyler Bray so it is hard to judge. But great coaches find a way to do more with less. Coaches like Kyle Shanahan who finds a way to go to Arizona and beat Kyler Murray with CJ Beatherd throwing 3 touchdown passes. That is the stuff Nagy can’t do.
I don’t know what makes a great head coach but the more I see genius thrown around for the likes of Matt LaFleur, the more I’m reminded that he has Aaron Rodgers. It’s easy to be a genius head coach when you have Rodgers or Brady. It gets lot more difficult when you have Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. I don’t think you can be considered a great coach until you get a franchise QB. Those are the breaks and that’s just how it is. Either way, I like Matt Nagy, but I wouldn’t have shed a tear if he was kicked to the curb. He allowed his defense to become soft the last two years and he has done nothing on the offensive end that played to what little strengths his players have.
In the End
The bottom line is much like American was in need of change in their Presidency, the Chicago Bears were in need of change of their entire management decision makers. It didn’t work, it was a failure and this year will be a disaster. As a Bears season ticket holder, I’m becoming used to this. I get excited every 6 years when the Bears defense stays healthy and their eek their way into he playoffs, only for that same team to fall of the cliff the following year and 5 freaking years after that. I am mad, I am pissed but after 30 years of this nonsense I am approaching the worst thing a person can be in a relationship, I am over it. I am apathetic. One can only be beat down so much before they tune out.
This Bears management circus is hard to like. They are weird, incompetent people, that say all the wrong things, give little confidence to their fan base and make the same mistakes over and over and over. The decision to change is tough, it is hard. It takes sacrifice and can feel overwhelming but this decision just feels like they were lazy. George and Ted didn’t want to go through the process this year. Teddy is about to retire, it was a tough year with COVID and they didn’t want to make the rounds.
There really is no point to watching the Bears this year. Of course I will because much like my kids, no matter how bad they are I still love them. But my loyalty is not blind. I will not being buying any further merchandise. I will not give that organizations one more dollar until they find a franchise QB. I refuse. Like being a Cubs fan I can only give so much of myself before I tune out, before its not worth the pain. The Bears press conference was painful. Just stop doing them if that’s the nonsense you will spew when you speak. But if you must speak to us Chicago Bears fans again say this:
“We are sorry, we feel your pain, we messed up and we have relieved Ryan Pace of his duties. He made a franchise altering poor decision, he gave away too much money on bad players and he didn’t deliver. He will never be an NFL GM again and we can’t apologize enough to our fans for our 30 year run of mediocrity.”
Of course, we will never get that kind of self reflective honesty. Truthfully they don’t owe us anything but then again we don’t owe them anything either. There needs to be consequences for poor decisions and I, in my own way will hold the Bears responsible. I love them, but I don’t like them. I don’t respect them. I have very little joy filled memories of my experience giving every fall and winter to my beloved Bears, so it’s not my fault I am where I am. They have put me here. They’re outright failures are tragic, mind boggling, and touch to relive.
As the nation changes to a different chapter in our history, us Chicago Bears fans will be forced to live the same nightmare of the last 6, or 16, or 60 years of mediocrity. The time was ripe for change and the Bears punted. They will be right back here a year from now making all of those said changes because the 2021 team will be a failure, there is no way around that. My only hope is the next guy can find the right QB, I have hope. All it takes is one dude making one decision at one point in time. Nothing hard about that right? I wish I was in the room in 2017. I wouldn’t have taken Mahomes, he wasn’t the pick at that time for me. I would have taken DeShaun Watson. He was the no brainer and he would have looked great in orange and blue. I would have been right where Ryan Pace was wrong and the Bears would be in the middle of a championship dynasty. I truly believe that. But instead the man who has made millions off of winning zero playoffs games, Ryan Pace, will once again get a crack at getting the QB position right, he will fail, the options are poor and the Bears don’t have the draft assets nor the money to make it happen. So welcome Gardner Minshew the 2nd, I give you Halas Hall where your mediocre butt will fit right in.
I say this, change is good when it is right, if you wait to long to make the right change it can be catastrophic. I believe if the Bears cared about winning they would have understood this was the year to go in a new direction but they didn’t feel the room and the only room they will be feeling next year will be the losers room. I on the understand have been forced to face the reckoning and I fully expect it will be miserable. I’m used to it, but that doesn’t mean I have to stand pat. I am making some much needed Bears changes in my life. I will hold them accountable in my own way and I will go out of my way to state as much as I possibly can this organization is not worth your time.
For those young enough to get out, get out. There is no reason to stick around. They are a grotesque scar on my chest that I can’t get rid of and I am forced to watch them fail every year, cause I am hooked. But I say go Chicago Bears fan, change. Be a Chiefs fan, or a Jags fan or a Chargers fan. There is nothing wrong with it, there is no shame. Life is too short to enjoy joyless football. Find a team with a great QB and cheer for them. They will bring you joy.
If you are like me and have given too much for too long than all I can tell you is don’t let them bring you down, don’t give them any more money that you have to do. Fade away and pray. We are left with bad options and that is all I can do. I hope the Bears learn their lessons, I doubt they will but we can all hope that one day things will change and on that day, life will be glorious. But that doesn’t mean the road to that glory wasn’t treacherous because being a Bears fan is hard and it ain’t getting any easier any time soon.