Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks recently won three championships in six years to reclaim the hockey presence in the windy city. Theo Epstein recaptured the hearts of baseball fans everywhere, breaking a 108-year World Series drought on the Northside of Chicago, and seemingly built his second dynasty in as many decades.
Even when Michael Jordan and the Bulls won six NBA championships in seven years in the ’90s, one thing has always remained: Chicago is a football town. The Monsters of the Midway have always been the pride and joy of the city, despite the recent struggles.
The Chicago Bears dominated the pre-1970 merger days winning eight NFL championships, second most championships won all-time. Then came the famous ’85 Bears led by Mike “Da Coach” Ditka and Walter “Sweetness” Payton who went on to win the club’s first Super Bowl.
Since 1992, when Coach Ditka left, the Bears struggled to find success until Lovie Smith arrived in 2004. Smith won NFL Coach of the Year in his second season, followed by a Super Bowl appearance the following year in 2006.
Lovie departed Chicago after the 2012 season, leaving with an overall record of 81-63 including three divisional championships in nine years. Marc Trestman took over the head duties, compiling a mediocre record of 13-19 in his two seasons.
In 2015, the Bears hired general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox to help revitalize the team’s identity. After a promising first season, the Bears regressed to a dismal 3-13 record last season.
Chicago hasn’t been this bad statistically since 1969 (1-13), before the floppy disk was invented and Disney World even existed. So, there’s only up from here, right? Well…
The Bears finally parted ways with their all-time leading passer Jay Cutler this offseason leading to new-found optimism amongst the team’s faithful. Chicago has a group of young core players to build around on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, young lineman Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair and running back Jordan Howard have established a nice base to build from. Defensively, second-year players like safety Adrian Amos and rusher Leonard Floyd look to be promising.
The Bears came into 2017 looking to have a successful offseason to complement their young talent. In the previous offseason, they addressed the linebacker position with Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman.
This offseason they added veteran defensive backs Marcus Cooper, Prince Amukamara and Quintin Demps. With the defensive side seemingly patched up during free agency, the attention switched to the offense for the 2017 draft.
It is clear to experts and fans across the nation that the Chicago Bears need a quarterback to throw the football and receivers to help catch it. Former president of the NFLPA of Alumni Players, Tim Tyrell said, “because of the losses in recent years with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, the biggest need would have to be the receiver position.”
While there were no top-five talents at the wide out position in this year’s draft class, people will always reach for quarterbacks with top picks. Tyrell stated, “If I have to pick at the top of the draft, it has to be a quarterback, their hands touch the ball every play.”
Ryan Pace pulled an unexpected move, trading up in the draft to No. 2 overall pick to take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The only reason to question the Bears pick is didn’t Chicago just sign quarterback Mike Glennon to a $45 million contract over the next three years? Well…
To be fair, the Bears have a potential opt-out option in 2018, taking only a $4.5 million cap hit. So, has Chicago really got any better this offseason? Probably not, but they at least took the risk on a future franchise quarterback.
The Chicago Bears offense will not be pretty in 2017, as they failed to address the receiver position and still lack a true playmaker under center. The Bears drafted Alabama safety, Eddie Jackson, who could be a starter down the road, and the verdict is still out on 2014 first-round pick Kevin White.
Expect to see the rookie quarterback Trubisky at some point during this fall because a Bears quarterback hasn’t started all 16 games since 2009. While this will be a rebuilding year for Chicago, possible building blocks are starting to take their place.
If the Bears found their franchise quarterback, the only part of the roster that needs to be upgraded is their lack of talent at the wide receiver position. If indeed, Chicago moves on from Glennon after the season, the Bears will have a lot of cap room moving forward with a rookie quarterback.
While he hasn’t reached the peaks of Bowman and Epstein and the other clubs around town, Ryan Pace is taking a much-needed risk to restore the Bears to prominence. It is yet to be determined whether the Bears will return to the playoffs soon (current six-year drought), but Chicago will always be a blue collar, football-loving city.