Once in a while, a tweet stops me dead in my tracks and leaves me speechless.
This is one of those tweets:
Roster: 27.1 yrs (2nd oldest)
Offense: 26.6 yrs (6th oldest)
Defense: 27.5 yrs (5th oldest)
ST: 27.2 yrs (3rd oldest)
— Butkus Stats & Analytics (@ButkusStats) April 6, 2021
In a vacuum, this tweet might not be all that jarring. But I can’t look at it through a vacuum.
I see the second-oldest roster led by the fifth-oldest defense and I get itchy. Chicago’s defense has been propping up the Matt Nagy era, posting top-10 numbers by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric in each of the last three seasons. Without those efforts, the Bears don’t make the playoffs in 2018 or 2020. But nothing lasts forever. And, yes, that includes stellar defenses led by guys like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, and others. In fact, they won’t even be able to do it together in 2021 because they’ve already cut two starting corners and have one starting safety hanging out in free agency. To be clear, I’m not predicting DOOM, but I’m not ignoring the red flags either.
Ideally, the Bears would find balance on offense. A young, up-and-coming group with upside would soften the blow if the defense loses its luster. Unfortunately, the Bears have the league’s sixth-oldest offense. Considering that we’ve seen little-to-no growth from this unit under Nagy, this is problematic.
And this further complicates matters:
Current Projected Top 51 Cap Space
1. #Jaguars, $40.7M
2. #Broncos, $29.1M
3. #Jets, $28.1M
4. #Colts, $26.3M
5. #Bengals, $23.5M
30. #Saints, $977k
31. #Buccaneers, $742k
32. #Bears, $521khttps://t.co/va5OPwy7Tw
— Spotrac (@spotrac) April 6, 2021
Translation: The Bears are old and expensive. And that sets the table for trouble.
Essentially, Chicago’s football team is in the same place now as it was when Ryan Pace took over in 2015. Remember when Pace arrived and was inheriting a team that was built for a competitive window that was clearly in the rear-view mirror? That’s where the Bears are trending if they don’t knock it out of the park with this draft. This team needs an influx of young talent that can contribute immediately. And while it’s good news that they have eight draft picks to work with later this month, they could mortgage some of that capital to move up to select a quarterback.
Now, in the interest of fairness, it’s not all gloom and doom. And it’s not as if this team is loaded with players about to pull out AARP cards. Eddie Goldman (27) and Eddie Jackson (27) are senior members of the defense, while Roquan Smith (24), Bilal Nichols (24), and Jaylon Johnson (21) skew younger. On offense, Tarik Cohen (25), David Montgomery (23), Darnell Mooney (23), James Daniels (23), and Cole Kmet (21) are on the younger side of things. Again, it’s not as if the Bears don’t have young talent. It’s just that there isn’t enough of it throughout the roster.