When a fan base sees a losing team time and time again, it can be hard to get excited about the coming season. From 2011 until last season there just wasn’t much of anything for Chicago Bears fans to get passionate over. They finished with a winning record just once in that span (10-6 in 2012), but still missed the playoffs.
Then after winning just 14 games from 2015-17, the Bears turned a corner last season. They won 12 games and won the division, but then lost by a point to the Eagles in the wild-card game.
But while the outcome was not what they hoped for, the journey there was a rather impressive one. The defense finished first in the NFL in points/allowed (17.7 points/game). They blew away the rest of the league with 36 total turnovers (27 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).
All four losses were by a touchdown or less, meaning they were just a play or two in each game away from running the table.
So, how come fans are not blowing up the internet with proclamations, predictions, and projections of the glory the new season will bring? Probably because, prior to last season, fans had been conditioned by one disappointing season after another to expect the worst.
With the departure of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, it is easy to see why some may find it easy to go back down that rabbit hole. Yes, Fangio did do a great job with the defense last year, and the defense was the heart of the team. But there is no reason to think that it is going to the unit is going to regress too much, if at all.
Numbers like that they generated are hard to replicate under any circumstances. But with veteran defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano taking over, the unit is going to be in good hands. Losing players, especially starters like Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan, is not ideal. But Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Buster Skrine should be able to fill in quite nicely.
The defense may not start as good as they did last year. But after a couple of games where they work the kinks out, they should be fine. They may not be the No. 1 defense in the league next season, but they will likely still finish in the top five.
However, unless the offense improves, a top five defense may not be enough to make a deep run into the playoffs next year. But there is every reason in the world to believe that the offense will be up to par.
Mitchell Trubisky played well overall and improved significantly over his rookie season. The offense didn’t generate a ton of yards (21st last season), but they made the most of them by scoring 26.3 points/game (ninth in the league).
Of course, picking up Mike Davis from Seattle to boost the running game should help. Trading away Jordan Howard may not have been the best idea. Picking up Davis and drafting David Montgomery out of Iowa State should help ease the pain.
Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel need to help Trubisky and do more in the passing game. Second-year wide receiver Anthony Miller to take a step forward and contribute more as well. If he doesn’t, rookie Calvin Ridley could step in and take reps from Miller. If Ridley doesn’t do it, then the speedy Cordarrelle Patterson may.
The pieces will be there. The Bears will just have to put them all together. With this being the second year in the offense, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Any who are still skeptical should find some solace in the various odds on the team’s performance. According to Betway.com, the Bears are favored to win the division again (+165) and make the playoffs (-151.52). They have the second-best odds to win the NFC at +600, and with the fifth-best odds in the NFL, they are viewed as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Odds makers do their homework before giving a team odds on anything. So, if they can see the Bears having a very good season and possibly winning the Super Bowl, should Bears fans expect big things?
Yes. Yes, they should.