The Chicago Bears losing to the New York Giants on Sunday didn’t just drop their record to 2-2. Defeat at the hands of the Giants served as a launching point for doomsayers and doom-scrollers alike to go to their darkest places as fans. And while I’m not at that point yet, I’d be lying if I wasn’t curious about what was behind that curtain.
After pulling it back a little, here is what I saw:
- FiveThirtyEight’s updated QB-adjusted Elo forecast has the Bears making the playoffs in just 15% of its simulations. Based on these projections, only the Lions, Commanders, Jets, Panthers, Steelers, and Texans have longer odds than the Bears. That goes a long way toward telling us how far this team needs to climb.
- Football Outsiders is slightly more optimistic, with an 18.7% shot at making the postseason. Better … but still not great.
- With odds like that, the reality is the Bears are more likely to be watching the tank standings than to be looking at playoff positioning.
- This brings us to Football Outsiders’ other eye-popping number — the Bears’ chances at getting a top-5 pick. After four games, it is at 20.0%. That’s the 10th-best odds of landing a spot in the top 5. After not having a first-rounder last year or in three of the last four drafts, a top-5 first-round pick would open us up to all sorts of prospect watching. Besides, who wouldn’t want to add a top-5 talent to a team that needs help at every position?
And all of that brings us to an early mock draft from Pro Football Focus, which has the Bears (1) owning the No. 4 overall pick and (2) using it on Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Michael Renner explains his selection:
At 6-foot and 194 pounds, Young won’t tick all the boxes physically. When he steps on the field, though, he ticks boxes left and right. He’s already earned a 91.3 overall grade this season without the two top-50 draft picks he lost at receiver from last season.
That pick would surely elicit some calm and level-headed takes. And I can’t wait to stuff them all into my eyeballs!
On the one hand, this tracks. And you can see in the sizzle reel why:
The Bears landing a top-5 pick and using it on college football’s best prospect at the most important position in football makes sense. But also … “holy cow PFF has the Bears taking a quarterback with a top-5 pick!?” is going to be a natural reply for many who see this post.
To be clear, I’m not writing this because I’m already giving up on Justin Fields. He has just 14 starts under his belt, and there are still 13 games left this season. HOWEVA, if the Bears are bottom-of-the-barrel bad and picking in the top-5, there is a good chance that Fields isn’t That Dude at QB1. And if the evidence that comes from the rest of the year points to that conclusion, then GM Ryan Poles would be wise to pull the trigger and go in a new direction at quarterback. Yeah, the Bears would likely still have issues to address at receiver and offensive line. But the quarterback is what makes this thing go. Your favorite team isn’t winning anything of consequence without a high-end quarterback calling the shots. The sooner the Bears can find one, the better off they’ll be moving forward.
Then again, if the Bears are picking in the top-5 and Fields has proven enough to stick around as QB1, this front office has options. Staying at four would put them in a position to draft an impact player at any number of positions. Want player who could eat in the middle of the defense? Clemson’s DL Bryan Bresee is interesting. A rusher off the edge? Bresee’s Clemson teammate Myles Murphy is another intriguing Clemson product. At offensive tackle, Peter Skoronski is too good to be wasting precious college snaps while at Northwestern. This receiver class is lit. USC’s Jordan Addison? OSU’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba? Someone else? There are options!
At the end of the day, you might look at the calendar showing Oct. 4 and feel it is too early to spotlight the Bears’ future draft picks. But when the team has better odds of finishing with a record more worthy of a top-5 pick than a playoff spot, there is nothing wrong with adjusting your expectations and diving into some early pre-draft prep work.