Dan and I pass back and forth idiotic articles on football all the time. Journalists have to fill pages or screens or mobile devices with content so it is everywhere. And everyone has an opinion – why not – it’s free, just like this site.
Here’s my 2 cents and “mega view” on the Bears. It comes from reading pretty much every article I can find, listening to people who know way more than me about football, sitting in the stands, and watching the (miserable) games.
Our failure is a complete mix of toxic ingredients that inter-relate across major decisions, business decisions, coaching decisions, and frankly bad luck. It isn’t “one thing” and it can’t just be taken in isolation. You can’t just look at one variable and come to a conclusion.
ELEMENT ONE – OUR COACHING AND GM’S ARE TERRIBLE
It isn’t that we don’t pay a lot of money (the Bears haven’t been cheap for years) – it is that for some reason or another, we usually get the wrong guys at the wrong time. The evidence for this is two fold – 1) the execs and coaches that we hire and cast off usually go on to obscurity 2) zero innovation has been credited to the Bears in decades (probably since the 80’s on defense). You never hear anyone talking about the Bears inventing a trend or scheme and attributing it to them.
ELEMENT TWO – WE HAVE A HISTORY OF DRAFT BUSTS
Going through our litany of draft failures is almost too much to Bear (bad pun). We did pick some good guys on defense leading up to the 2007 Super Bowl season but damn that was a long time ago and even reading or scanning through most of our top draft picks is a sad experience that I won’t go through here. If you are a Bears fan and you can’t immediately recite bust after bust then you must not be much of a fan. Dan and I are VERY high on our new QB we nicknamed Grabowski and hell if he’s great (and doesn’t fall prey to element three) then a lot of this might go away (for a bit).
ELEMENT THREE – OUR INJURIES AND LUCK IS TERRIBLE
I am not a doctor nor a turf expert but the Bears have been crippled by injuries for years and our awful field conditions have to be at least partially to blame. The epitome of this is the injury to our starting center on Family Day. This is going to blend with element four below but of our few solid players, they are crippled in their peak and then just limp along as an inferior shells of themselves for years to come. I can walk through the list of injuries but really, once again, if you are a true Bears fan it has to be completely obvious to you what I am talking about.
ELEMENT FOUR – OUR STADIUM AND BUSINESS DECISIONS ARE TERRIBLE
Our stadium is a joke. They don’t even have enough bathrooms for you to go at half time. I routinely see fans from visiting teams dumbfounded that there is nowhere to warm up and that the stadium takes hours to exit due to obvious physical limitations and bottlenecks. Recently I left with some Atlanta fans and they couldn’t believe that we needed to walk like two miles from the stadium through random sidewalks just to get to a place where you could get an Uber. They were looking at me like “are we lost” and I said “hey if there was a better plan I would be doing it”. The practical impact of this stadium mess is that we never will host a Super Bowl (else Chicago would be perfect – we have the biggest airport and a billion hotel rooms) and the team can’t make the money that you make from something like Jerry’s world in Dallas.
ELEMENT FIVE – THE STATS LIE – WE LIVE IN GARBAGE TIME
I don’t play fantasy football (which makes me a freak) but there is a HUGE difference between the game you see on the screen and the stats that come up in the end. The Bears LIVE in “garbage time”, raising their stats when the game is either out of reach or barely in reach. One of the best examples is when the human clown Glennon passed for 300 yards and we were blown out – I really don’t care about the stats when these games are obviously not close. On the other hand, they hit Grabowski for his stats when he literally has ONE SECOND to throw the ball due to horrendous O line play and the fact that his receivers could not play on any other NFL squad nor probably even a top NCAA team.
ELEMENT SIX – EACH OF THESE TOXIC VARIABLES DOUBLES DOWN
It is a simple piece of math. If you have a 20% chance of something bad happening and you roll the dice 5 times, it is very likely that it just occurred. When we do have some talent (2007), we squander it with the worst coaching ever (Ron Turner). When we have a bit of innovation (a few years ago on offense), it is crushed by injuries and draft busts. When we see someone unexpected start to rise up (like Knox or Miller), they get often get catastrophic injuries. Jay Cutler had a lot of talent but flaws – and he then was subjected to horrendous coaching and brutal O line play and always crippled and then we get history.
So that’s my 2 cents. “It takes a village” to be as terrible as the Bears. And you need to untangle all of these root causes and fix them over some period of time (decades?) to make progress.
- Hire coaches who can innovate
- Hit on the draft
- Fix the turf or get out of Soldier Field to raise revenue and reduce injuries
- Ignore the stats and look at the damn game
But when someone gives you a simple “cause and effect” article on the Bears, throw it in the trash. When something good happens on the Bears, like a lobster trying to escape from a barrel, the other elements drag it back down.