The 2018 Chicago Bears will always hold a special place in my heart. That team kicked expectations to the curb, turned the NFC North on its ear, won 12 games, hoisted a division crown, and put the 2019 Bears firmly into the conversation of title contenders for Super Bowl LIV.
And yet, some believe they’re primed to crash.
Michael Colangelo of USA Today’s Touchdown Wire came up with six teams who appear to be positioned for a fall from grace. Among those teams is the Bears. First of all, how dare you? Second of all, see point No. 1.
The Bears seem to be a hip team to pick for regression for a particular group of analysts. And to be fair, I can almost see where they are coming from when they tab Chicago as the team set to take a tumble. Football is a hard game to play. And if that wasn’t enough, the league is set up for teams that are bad one year to do well the next, and for teams who do well one year to get tripped up the following season. Injuries fluctuate. Player performances hit peaks and valleys. There is regression (both positive and negative), new plays, old ideas that become new again. There are a great many things can happen to keep good teams from repeating the successes of the year before. But the Bears look like a team that is well-equipped to slay those dragons.
Chicago’s offense is about to explode behind quarterback Mitch Trubisky who has reportedly taken major steps forward in his development during the offseason training program. The defense is still led by Khalil Mack, who is aspiring to be the B.O.A.T. at his position. Young players like Anthony Miller are going out of their way to learn new things, even when they’re sidelined because of an injury. Head Coach Matt Nagy is digging deep to find unique ways to motivate a team that is one of the most well-rounded in football.
Are the Packers going to present a challenge? Of course. It wouldn’t be a rivalry if they just laid down and put up a fight. Will the Vikings be geared up after watching the Bears end their playoff dreams on their home turf. Totally. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. The Lions? Well, I guess that — in theory — they could do a worst-to-first thing. I just wouldn’t go to Vegas and make that bet.
Making the playoffs in 2019 is going to be difficult. But this is professional football. Nothing is easy. And everything worth something will never come easy. It’s only June, but I can’t wait to see how the Bears go about their business while being the hunted instead of the hunter. And because they’re still on the hunt for something more after the way their season ended, it’s tough to imagine this team slipping due to complacency.