“With the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select…” are words not likely to be uttered by Commissioner Roger Goodell next spring when the draft heads to Nashville. And frankly, that’s a relief.
ESPN’s Hank Gargiulo and Seth Walder team up to bring odds and predictions for what will happen in 2018. From a Bears perspective, the good news is that they aren’t projected to be among the league’s bottom-feeders this season. The Bears have a 5 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and a 27 percent at a top-five selection. Mind you, these are just projections … but they’re enough to give us reason to celebrate. Hooray!
It would be a wonderful thing to put off tank talk, potential draft strategies, dissecting positions of need, and watching college football with the intent of finding the next great Bears standout as long as possible. Pushing off draft position talk until much later in the year would mean Chicago’s offseason was a success and that their regular season was going better than it had pretty much at any point during the John Fox era.
So the path to the Super Bowl is paved with an orange carpet, right? Well, not so fast.
The Bears have just a 1 percent chance of making the Super Bowl and a less than 1 percent chance of winning it. Chicago has a 12 percent shot of making the playoffs, and it will probably have to come in the form of a wild-card run if it happens as the team’s odds of winning the NFC North are the longest of the division’s four teams.
Alright, so the Bears aren’t going to be awful … but their chances of being great are slim. That makes me feel … conflicted.
The Bears figure to be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. The ESPN/Football Outsiders collaboration has the Bears with a projected win total of 6.8. A six- or- seven-win season could be viewed as an improvement, but would it be?
I suppose it’s better to be talking about the Bears being improved – albeit a small improvement – than angling for what next year’s draft class holds.
If the Bears don’t make the playoffs, but show significant growth on offense while maintaining defensive excellence, then a seven-win season wouldn’t feel as bad as it probably should. Turning the corner can be a slow process, and the Bears need to be careful and make sure they get it right, or risk damaging the long-term health of the organization.