The Bears are ass.
Gone is the cautious optimism that they’d be able to coast on the momentum of a 5-1 start long enough for the offense to get things ironed out. Five consecutive losses later, they’re living up to Packers fans’ favorite chant and there’s probably not a damn thing ownership is going to do about it. Whether they’re too indifferent or simply too inept, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Bears will affect the kind of true organizational change needed to reverse their fortunes.
And lest you think I’m leaning on recency bias from the last month or so, let’s consider just how abjectly awful the Bears have been for the last 30 years. I’m not talking about New York Jets bad, but…wait, I actually am talking about that level of putrescence. The Giants’ roommates have actually made the playoffs seven times since 1991, winning seven games in that stretch.
The Bears have made the playoffs just six times and won a total of four games in that same span. Four effing postseason wins in 28 seasons — soon to be 29 because they sure as hell ain’t making it this year — would be bad enough, but then you consider what they’ve done against the Packers.
Heading into the 1992 season, the Bears had an all-time record of 80-57-6 against their bitter rivals north of the Cheddar Curtain. In the 59 games the teams have played since, the Bears are 14-43 and just suffered their 100th overall loss in the series. That’s even more unacceptable than what Jim Harbaugh has done at Michigan and speaks to the ineptitude with which the Bears have been operated for the last two decades or longer.
Never before has Staley been such a perfectly metaphorical name.
The most frustrating part of it all is that we probably won’t see any meaningful change from the team during the season, and maybe not even after. The Lions fired general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia after a disappointing start in order to turn the page on the next chapter and start the search for replacements. The Jaguars fired GM Dave Caldwell to do the same.
Both of those teams have worse records than the Bears, but let’s not pretend as though the problems at Halas Hall and Soldier Field don’t run just as deep. Neither Ryan Pace nor Matt Nagy has shown anything to indicate they’re capable of turning the team around, and the potential for next year’s salary cap to drop by $25 million or so means they’ll have far less leeway with which to operate.
But in order for the Bears to truly break from the last 30 years of general futility, changes need to take place even higher. It’s not a coincidence that Ted Phillips took over as VP of Operations in 1993, prior to his promotion to CEO and President six years later. While he may now be a football man by trade, he’s an accountant at heart and has run the Bears accordingly.
Hell, we could take it a step higher and say the McCaskey family needs to part with its legacy and sell the team to someone else. Anyone else. Even if the Bears are really all they’ve got, pulling down anywhere close to the franchise’s estimated $3.525 billion value would have them shittin’ in high cotton for generations to come.
Without peaking at that link, you wanna take a guess at which team is valued just above the Bears? The Jets, at $3.55 billion.
The real kicker here, though, is that the Bears’ operating income of $136 million is greater than three of the six teams with higher overall value and more than all but four of the league’s 31 other teams. And that, my friends, is the big problem with having an accountant making the final calls on football operations. It’s more about running a profitable business enterprise than having a winning culture.
Neither the Packers ($88 million) nor the Steelers ($86 million) turn nearly as much of a profit, but Bears fans would change fortunes with either outfit in a heartbeat.
I already asked about value, now I’ll test your knowledge of profit. Which team is closest to the Bears in terms of operating income? Here’s a hint: They’re also a poorly-run laughingstock. If you guessed the Washington Football Team, give yourself a pat on the back. In yet another coincidental twist, Washington has made the playoffs just six times and has tallied three total postseason wins since 1991.
At what point do we stop talking about coincidence and start accepting the reality of the situation?
Strip away all the identifying factors and the Bears are nearly indistinguishable from either the Jets or the Football Team over the last 30 years or so. That should piss you off as a fan and it should piss the McCaskeys off even more because they’re the ones everyone else in the league is pointing and laughing at. Except that they’re being laughed at all the way to the bank to cash those big-ass checks we keep writing them.
The Bears have never fired a GM or coach in the middle of the season and they’re not about to start now with just five games left. Even if and when they do make necessary changes to the front office and coaching staff, the organization can’t be trusted to make the right choices moving forward. It’s all one big clusterfuck at this point and the only way out seems to wish on the monkey’s paw that ownership will change.
As things currently stand, the Bears are a rudderless ship that’s likely to run aground with a pick outside the top 10. Unless, of course, they lose out, which still might not get them inside the top five. And would you trust them to make the right call with a very high pick in the unlikely event they get one? Didn’t think so.
Perhaps I’ll feel less apoplectic about this team at some point in the future, just don’t expect anything rosy for a while. Not that it really matters since literally five people will read this anyway.