by Greg Talcott
For Chicago, last week’s victory over the Chargers on the road will likely prove to be the turning point in what has been a disappointing season so far. No, I don’t think the Bears are going to start rattling off victories and make the playoffs; but they have a good shot of finishing 7-9 or 8-8. The Bears have been involved in a lot of close games the last 5 weeks and could just as easily be 5-3 as they could be 0-8. Looking at the second half of the schedule and the Bears have 6 “winnable games”, and 2 games where they have essentially no chance (Green Bay & Denver). Odds are they won’t finish any worse than 6-10 and that level of improvement is not only negligible, it is detrimental to their chances of landing a top 10 pick in the draft.
Bears fans face the dilemma; would you rather they tank the second half of the season or battle for a .500 record and a mid-round draft choice? As it stands right now, the Bears would have the number 4 pick in the draft and the same glaring problem staring them in the face for next year; Jay Cutler. Isn’t 2016 the year the Bears finally admit Cutler isn’t the guy and draft his replacement? While it is hardly a banner year for QB’s entering the draft, the Bears will likely need a top 10 pick if they want a shot at Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, or Connor Cook. Chicago can ill afford to screw up yet another decision involving the most important role on the team. Cutler apologists will point to his heroics in wins this year against the Chargers, Raiders, and Chiefs as signs he is turning the corner. A hater will say his game winning TD drive against San Diego was needed to overcome yet another pick 6 he threw earlier in the game. Either way, if you watch the Bears, they have at best a coin toss chance in each game of Cutler killing or saving the team and that isn’t going to bring a Super Bowl title to the Windy City anytime soon.
The Bears have a long and pathetically inept history at quarterback. Until last week, Sid Luckman was still the Bears all-time leader in TD passes and he last played in 1950 when Harry Truman was President of the United States. While Luckman brought 4 NFL Championships to Chicago in 12 years, Jay Cutler has brought just one playoff victory which is one less than Rex Grossman produced. When is the last time you heard a Bears’ fan defend Rex Grossman? Never. When do you hear them defend Jay Cutler? Frequently. When do you hear the name Sid Luckman? Only when a Bears fan wants to reference any period of consistent success the team ever enjoyed. Bottom line, the Bears need a quarterback and Cutler leading them to an 8-8 season is going to leave them looking at guys who aren’t the long term answer in later rounds or to the free agent market. The most interesting name there given John Fox’s history with Denver is Brock Osweiler. Do we really want to deal QB’s with John Elway again? I didn’t think so.
Where does this leave the Bears heading into the second half of the season? With some young talent on both sides of the ball, a solid coaching staff, and what appears to be a competent front office building toward the future. Unfortunately for this year, they still have Jay Cutler and find themselves in the familiar position of watching the playoffs from the couch and being thankful they play in the same city as the Cubs.