'Rebuilding?' Tanking by any other name… . Bears set a better example

'Rebuilding?' Tanking by any other name… . Bears set a better example

As baseball moves toward its trade deadline and its annual “buyer or seller?” debates… .

Readers of this space know what your humble and faithful narrator thinks of organizational quitting – “tanking,” in current parlance, local case studies being the Bulls and White Sox, the latter being a particularly amusing example given what was going on there about a century ago. Those Sox were banned from baseball for throwing the 1919 World Series, while members of the current Bulls or Sox have their mindset questioned for trying to win, fouling up a draft slot for an organization trying to do anything but.

Now it’s the organization that does the quitting on a season, dressed up a bit by euphemistically cloaking it with a veneer of respectability in the form of the descriptor “rebuild,” which justifies quitting on the present behind a pretext of getting back in trade some prospects, who rarely if ever reach the levels of the talent being dumped.

Players are excoriated for not running out a ground ball. But the culture of quitting has made it organizationally acceptable for not playing out a season. Help me with the math on this one, please.

It’s acceptable for an organization to quit based on a pretext of acquiring a higher draft choice or prospects via trade for supposed future pursuits of championships, but not for a player to, say, pull himself out of a game trailing by X number of runs after so many innings to save himself for tomorrow? Help me with with math on this one, too, please.

It’s all some twisting of the sports ethic involving ends justifying means, which might work. But it ignores the law of unintended consequences, and that doesn’t. The Bulls and Sox may be “rebuilding” something, but the unintended consequence may ultimately be in fact building and cementing in place a culture of losing. The Sox may come up with a catchy “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” marketing slogan, but they do quit, and get benched for it, and you do kinda wonder if somewhere there isn’t some perverse bounty system paying off for sloppy pitching, hitting or fielding.

Then there are the Bears… .

To their credit, the Bears have not appeared to subscribe to the tanking strategy. Just the opposite, and that may already be poised for a payoff (pun intended).

The Bears did need to stanch the talent bleeding that gathered speed under the Marc Trestman/Phil Emery administration. As or more important, they needed to eradicate the culture of losing that was setting in and deepening by the week.

That culture makeover was the prime directive for John Fox and was accomplished, without ever tanking.

GM Ryan Pace cited that fact even as Fox was being dismissed. “[Fox] has been a tremendous force in changing the culture and the mentality in this building,” Pace said. “He helped set the foundation for this organization to go to new heights… .

“Our guys were playing hard, competing, and that’s a credit to coach Fox and what he’s instilled.”

Which brings the conversation back around to tanking, which was never part of any Bears plan, certainly not for Fox and not for Pace, who simply took the draft slot that the Fox play-hard teams left him (No. 11 in 2016, No. 3 in 2017) and made aggressive moves to trade up for targeted players Leonard Floyd and Mitch Trubisky.

From the standpoint of the core culture, hiring Matt Nagy wasn’t a repudiation of Fox so much as building on a core of Floyd, Trubisky, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair and others, and on what Fox and staff put in place. The retention of coordinator Vic Fangio and virtually the entire defensive staff points back to the original hiring of Fox, Fangio and Adam Gase to reverse the Trestman/Aaron Kromer/Mel Tucker death spiral. Had management given Emery and Trestman another year or two, best guess is that the Bears would’ve played their way down to a No. 1-overall pick.

They almost made it anyway. But the team that Floyd and Trubisky came into wasn’t in quit mode and the Bears are the better for it. There’s a lesson in that.

Kindle Vildor dubbed Bears' rookie who could be surprise gem in 2020

Kindle Vildor dubbed Bears' rookie who could be surprise gem in 2020

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a good eye for talent in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. He nailed picks like Eddie Jackson (fourth round), Jordan Howard (fifth round) and Adrian Amos (fifth round) over the years, and the hope is that one of his Day 3 picks in 2020 will continue that trend.

One player who has a chance to exceed his draft slot is Georgia Southern cornerback, Kindle Vildor, who Pace selected in the fifth round of April's draft. He was recently named the Bears' rookie who could be a surprise gem in 2020.

"We stress confidence when we talk about the corner position," general manager Ryan Pace told reporters. "And [Vildor] definitely has that confidence and that playing demeanor that we look for. A skill set that also translates well to special teams, which is going to be important especially in the early part of his development."

The two-time first-team All-Sun Belt performer will have to beat out a few veterans for reps, but his man-coverage and ball skills should fit favorably in the Bears' defensive scheme.

While most of the post-draft attention has been paid to another Bears rookie cornerback, second-round pick Jaylon Johnson, Vildor has a chance to earn significant playing time as a rookie. Only Kyle Fuller is assured a starting job at this point, and while Vildor faces an uphill battle to unseat Buster Skrine for reps, there's no reason to bet against him. Pace has always been a proponent of competition breeding the best results and if Vildor rises to the occasion, the Bears will waste little time inserting him into the lineup.

Vildor ended his college career with 94 tackles, nine interceptions and 25 passes defended.

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    NFL, players union agree on 5 year extension for 'Madden' video game

    NFL, players union agree on 5 year extension for 'Madden' video game

    Good news, Madden fans: you can officially continue spending $80 to complain about how the game hasn't been good in years. 

    According to Darren Rovell, the NFL and EA Sports have agreed to a 5-year extension: 

    Rovell says his sources have told him that, 'the deal is worth at least $1 billion to the NFL and $500 million to the players. The deal also includes at least $500 million in marketing commitments over the years.' 

    Congrats to everyone involved! Now more than ever, football fans need some good news. There's no tradition as timeless as throwing controllers through TVs and against walls when your friend runs four verticals with a Y skinny post over and over and over again. Madden exists solely to allow people cover to yell at the TV without the presence of, like, a real reason. What would we do without it?