When it comes to some NFL franchises, making the playoffs is enough and accepting mediocrity with no consequences is enough. Not only do the Chicago Bears embrace this philosophy, but they also carry it out each year knowing their monopoly over the city of Chicago allows it.
At Notre Dame, they hit the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign before every game. At Halas Hall, General Manager Ryan Pace and President Ted Phillips hit the “Accountability? Not For Me” sign every season.
So congrats to the Bears, who will continue to get rich while pushing a losing, deficient hierarchy on a tremendous fanbase, while refusing to be transparent.
“Football Culture” Outweighs Winning
Quite like how the Bears ran skewed plays all season because they thought it kept the opposition on their toes (Ryan Nall touching the ball in a playoff game on third down), their front office believes they continue to have a leg-up on the rest of the NFL because of their “football culture.”
Let’s make one thing clear: You can have a great culture and win games simultaneously. As a matter of fact, winning consistently would likely make your culture stronger. A six-game losing streak does not, but the Bears’ brass insisted that the longest losing streak since 2002 was a good thing.
“We have exactly the right football culture that all teams strive for,” Ted Phillips said, adding that the “fire everyone” mentality isn’t a “recipe for success.”
Bears fans are likely to disagree here because of the following:
In 2020, the Bears beat Lions, Giants, Falcons, Bucs, Panthers, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars. They lost to the Colts, Rams, Saints, Titans, Vikings, Packers twice, and Saints twice. In other words, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat, aside from the Buccaneers, and continue to fluctuate between average and slightly below average.
If we’re comparing “football cultures” with the teams in the loss column, four of those franchises have Super Bowl titles since 1985, three since the turn of the millennium, and two of them are contenders year-in and year-out.
The Bears finished the season winning three of four because of their schedule, not their “football culture.”
The Coveted Scapegoat
Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Dowell Loggains, Mark Helfrich, Rod Marinelli, Lovie Smith, and now Chuck Pagano. No one utilizes the scapegoat quite like Bears.
While arguments can be made that some of those coaches deserved to be fired, the overwhelming subject matter is that the leaders of the franchise brought them in and continue to believe they themselves are not the problem.
Stories of George McCaskey talking with fans in the Soldier Field parking lot are great. He cares about the team and he wants to win. Do you know what’s greater? A perennial contender.
It’s awesome to have an owner who cares, as many in the sports world just care about the dollar sign, but McCasky’s track record proves that he doesn’t know how to win. To make matters worse, he doesn’t have the right connections to those that do.
It’s never been more clear that the Bears need a VP of Football Operations, but the issue remains that no one in the organization has the credentials to bring in that person. At the heart of the franchise’s continued failures, valuing relationships over progress is the main artery.
2021 Defines The Team’s Future
With George McCaskey deciding to keep the team’s hierarchy in-tact for at least one more year, it’s important to acknowledge that this decision will define the next five years of Bears football, contract extensions or not.
As if you needed the reminder, here is Ryan Pace’s quarterback history.
Ryan Pace's last 4 years:
2017: misevaluated Glennon, Trubisky, Watson, and Mahomes.
2018: misevaluated Trubisky
2019: misevaluated Trubisky
2020: correctly evaluated Trubisky, but misevaluated Foles.
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) January 13, 2021
Well-run organizations do not give the keys to general managers that may not be around to witness the fallout. Example A: Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs. But that’s exactly what the Bears are going to do.
Pace and Nagy will be tasked with drafting the franchise QB for the second time, but could likely be fired following next season if the team replicates 2020. Does anyone think 2021 will be any better than 2020, when the big changes will be the defensive coordinator and losing Allen Robinson in free agency?
Ryan Pace has had six seasons as the GM, his misses in the draft outweigh his hits, but for some reason will be granted the opportunity to determine the future of the NFL’s charter franchise.
As a wise man once said, that’s a bold strategy, cotton. Let’s see how that plays out for them. Unfortunately, as fans, we have no other choice.