Sunday, June 9, 2024

PFF Says The Bears Have The Best Roster In NFC North

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The Pro Football Focus Chicago Bears support has been surprisingly consistent over the past year. They gave top grade to GM Ryan Pace for his work in the 2016 draft and then a couple nice marks for both 2017 free agency and the draft as well. They’ve long been a website dedicated to focusing on the rosters. Not the records from prior seasons like so many do.

That might be why it was a substantial shock an NFC North breakdown by them revealed a huge nugget. As it turns out the Bears have the best overall roster grade in the entire division. That is not a practical joke. There’s a table with colors and everything. It goes position by position giving the grades and the numbers don’t lie.

Pro Football Focus Chicago Bears grade predicts big things

Needless to say the reaction to this was a mix of shock and downright indignation from many. That can’t be right. How can the worst team from last season possibly have the best overall roster? Well Warren Ludford of SB Nation broke it down so it made a little more sense.

“Perhaps the most surprising stat in comparing NFC North teams is that the Chicago Bears have the best average grade. To be honest I had to double-check that, but it’s accurate. That comes not from having the best players, but a relative lack of poor ones – notice not so much red in the Bears column. It also reflects perhaps some improvement via free agency this off-season for the Bears as well.”

In essence what he’s saying is Ryan Pace accomplished one part of his goal for this offseason. He improved the overall depth of roster. The Bears don’t have any glaring holes at any of their positions. Sure there are some that are average but no downright awful areas. What they lack is simple star power. As yet the general youth of the team hasn’t developed enough to determine where those names might come from.

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One-man show?

At present the only name that falls close to this category is Jordan Howard. He was outstanding as a rookie in 2016, reaching his first Pro Bowl. Jerrell Freeman is also a highly underrated stud accord to PFF while Josh Sitton and Cody Whitehair also get high marks. Even so there is a general feeling that the team still hasn’t quite found its core. Those 4-5 guys who do the majority of the playmaking, all while elevating the performance of those around them.

A decade ago it was pretty clear. There was Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Olin Kreutz. In the 1980s it was Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Walter Payton, Jay Hilgenberg and Jimbo Covert. For this latest incarnation Howard is the only young stud who stands out. Perhaps Kyle Long qualifies as well provided he gets healthy. After that it’s a hope that Whitehair and linebacker Leonard Floyd can soon join them. Followed, of course by prized top draft choice Mitch Trubisky.

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