At this time last year, we found ourselves cheering on a Chicago Bears team looking up at the rest of the NFC North and searching for a blueprint they could take and run with en route to finding some glory of their own.
We dissected the Los Angeles Rams plan and concluded their path was an ideal one to follow (down to their coaching search). After falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in a regular season game, we were motivated to figure out how the Bears could apply what they learned in defeat, inspired by their Super Bowl run, and dreamed on an Eagles-like rise for the Bears – even if we knew there were plenty of hurdles that needed to be cleared.
Now, the Bears are viewed as a team with a plan worth following.
In a must-read piece over at The Ringer, Robert Mays explains how the Bears’ plan with Mitch Trubisky provides a blueprint for struggling teams around the NFL who want to get right and return to the win column. No, really. The Bears have a winning formula. It’s quite simple, really.
Like the successful blueprints laid out by the Eagles and Rams, the Bears plan starts with hitching their wagons to a first-round quarterback with upside on a rookie scale contract. But that’s just the beginning, because successful team-building doesn’t end with the quarterback. Instead, that’s just the beginning of the process.
What makes the Bears plan unique is that they did not wait to see if Trubisky would pan out. Instead, they built around Trubisky and pushed him toward success. Everything the Bears did during the offseason – from firing John Fox and hiring Matt Nagy to every transaction that took place – was designed to get the most out of Trubisky and allowed the team to compete in case his development didn’t come as quickly as one would hope.
Mays outlines the aptly described “wholesale changes” that happened on the offensive side of the ball, highlighted by financial investments on the free agent market in wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, as well as tight end Trey Burton, and the addition of second-round draft pick receiver Anthony Miller. He also points out how the structure of Khalil Mack’s extension pays out a ton of his guarantees during three cost-friendly years of Trubisky’s contract, just before the expensive part comes into play. Bold and brilliant.
And to think, Trubisky can still get better moving forward.
This is the first year for Trubisky in Nagy’s system. That Trubisky has performed as well as he has (and no matter what anyone says to the contrary, a season when you’re on pace to throw for 3,700+ yards and 30 TDs with a 94.1 rating doesn’t suck) says a lot about his talent, as well as Nagy’s ability to draw up successful plays that scheme receivers open. If Trubisky can take another step and continue to make progress, then that further changes the trajectory of this whole Bears thing.
You’ll want to read Mays’ piece in full for a more complete understanding of the blueprint. But knowing that the Bears are being viewed in a positive light is another sign things are moving in the right direction.