The Bears’ championship drought is the longest among Chicago’s professional sports (thanks a lot, Cubs), and they haven’t even had many chances to end their dry spell thanks to a lengthy postseason drought.
But in the eyes of a former NFL scout, this team appears to be in a good position to put that to an end. So while Greg Gabriel falls short of booking the Bears a ticket to the playoffs in a recent piece over at Pro Football Weekly, he clearly sees something in this team that he hasn’t in nearly a decade.
“What have we learned about the Bears this offseason? First off, the talent level of the team is the best that it’s been since 2010, when the Bears were playoff contenders,” Gabriel wrote. “That said, there are still holes to fill before Chicago opens the regular season at Green Bay in early September.”
If you’re unaware, Gabriel was a long-time NFL scout, and the Bears’ Director of College Scouting, who oversaw drafts that landed key pieces to the team’s last playoff run. So at a minimum, he knows what the makings of a playoff team should look like. Thus, comparing this group to a playoff team that featured drafted and developed standouts like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, and Devin Hester says a lot about some of the heavy lifting GM Ryan Pace and his staff have done to get this thing going in the right direction.
Of course, there’s no avoiding the issues that could keep the Bears out of the playoff hunt. The team’s potential pass-rush problems aren’t going away any time soon. And even though the Bears are expected to be fully healthy when training camp opens next month, some of the team’s key players are coming off season-ending injuries and need to prove things on the practice field before getting a full vote of confidence. Beyond that, the team is clearly putting a lot of their eggs in the Mitch Trubisky basket, and while we’re as high on him as anyone, it’s not like that’s without risk. But still … the Bears look to be in a better place now than they were in the last four or five years, and that’s all you can ask for.
So while it may be impossible to look past the potential problems this season, the arrow is still pointing in the right direction.