A year ago at this time, nearly every single discussion surrounding the Chicago Bears’ defense revolved around one word — regression. But I’d hardly consider a top-10 finish in scoring, yardage, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA the sort of “regression” many predicted.
Now, a year later, some chatter is starting to build around the Bears being back on the come-up.
NFL Network analyst Kyle Brandt is leading the way. In a recent segment on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” in which the panel was asked which defense will be must-see TV in 2020, Brandt offered up the Bears. And in doing so, dropped a new anecdote at our feet.
Check it out:
“Guys, if you’re looking for some sort of “X” factor, this is sort of inside thing,” Brandt said. “I was at the Bears facility a couple of months ago. It was right before this whole quarantine life started. It was actually a day after the NCAA Tournament was canceled. They have a new facility, that if every Bears fan, I wish they could see it because you leave this facility and be like they’re going to win for the rest of time. It’s the most amazing thing of all time.”
In case you missed it (because you were possibly checked out at the end of the John Fox era), Halas Hall underwent a significant renovation that was announced late in the 2017 season, didn’t get started until the the 2018 calendar year, and was finished in 2019. The upgrades include updated weight rooms, new cafeteria space, a hydrotherapy room, and more. There’s glitz, glamour, and tangible stuff aimed at improving team performance. It’s new, shiny, spectacular, and a football player’s dream.
But on top of all that flashy goodness, Brandt pulled back the curtain enough to show a metaphorical glimpse at a special project the Bears are working on to get this defense into peak form:
“And there’s even what I would call a Project X, which I don’t even know I can actually talk about. But they have incorporated the future to prepare their defense, let’s just say. I’m going to leave it vague, but my hair was so blown back by this. They have taken virtual reality and used it make them the defense of the future. It’s come a long way since the lawn-mower man.”
The offense reportedly used virtual reality back in 2017 – and other sports, like baseball – have made it a part of their training programs in the past, so I’m very excited to see the Bears continue drifting towards the future when it comes to player development.
Other than that, the Bears (1) have already bolstered their defense with a pass-rushing partner for Khalil Mack in Robert Quinn, (2) will add three defenders (Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith) who finished the year on the injury report, and (3) have added a rookie cornerback who was a second-team All-American on one of the country’s top defenses. So something mysterious like “Project X” should have opposing quarterbacks shaking in their cleats.
Gosh … is it football season yet?