We've seen the question all over social media and talk shows for the last few weeks: Are the Bears complete and utter frauds?
Who cares? It's Week 7.
The Bears are 5-1. They have a 76 percent chance of making the playoffs, per Football Outsiders’ projections. And if there had been an expanded, seven-team playoff over the last decade, teams that started 5-1 would’ve made the postseason 90 percent of the time.
I’ll admit I’ve been a part of this (and got yelled at on Sunday's postgame Under Center podcast by co-host Cam Ellis and David Kaplan for it). The Bears’ offensive line issues are troubling. Their offense needs more playmakers – and misses Tarik Cohen. The offense hasn’t improved since Foles took over. A great defense will only take you so far, as recent history has shown.
Right now, this team looks flawed – possibly too flawed to compete with the best teams in the NFC.
“I knew when I made the decision, I knew it wasn’t going to be like a magic wand where just all of a sudden he comes in and lights it up or does this or does that,” coach Matt Nagy said. “That wasn’t going to happen.”
And maybe the Bears will get exposed for the “frauds” some folks think they are in the next three weeks, when they face the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans – their toughest stretch of the season.
But as long as the Bears don’t lose all three of those games, this plan is still very much in place:
Step 1: Figure out how to give Foles the best shot at catching fire in the next 10 weeks.
Step 2: Make the playoffs.
Step 3: Hope you get Playoff Nick Foles.
Step 4: Profit.
In the absence of being able to count on great quarterback play – which the Seattle Seahawks, for example, can – it’s not the worst bet in football to put your chips on Foles and a great defense in the playoffs.
Foles, after all, won a Super Bowl – and Super Bowl MVP – with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then a year late, he engineered a game-winning drive against the best defense in football late in the fourth quarter of a wild card road game. We won’t talk about what happened after.
So while the Bears’ offense has not looked better with Foles starting instead of Mitch Trubisky, the point is it doesn’t have to right now. The Bears need this offense to peak at the right time. The right time is January.
“We had training camp, we were in a competition so we were running base plays, and then you get to the season. It’s been crazy so that’s where those conversations come in. It takes time. But the ultimate thing is, we’re finding ways to win.
Between now and then, the Bears need to figure out quite a bit regarding their offense. But they get to do it while having a 5-1 record and one of the best playoff quarterbacks in the NFL.
There are plenty, plenty worse places to be than that.
“Obviously we want to get a better rhythm and do things better, but the ultimate thing in this league is you want to find out how to win games as a team,” Foles said. “We’re continuing to work towards those goals of getting better on the offensive side of the ball as well as the defensive side of the ball and special teams. We’re never stopping.
“But this is just a process. This is a part of the game I think that goes back to not losing belief that you will get better if you do the little things right daily.”