When did the Chicago Bears become the laughing stock of the NFC North?
The narrative that's dominated the Bears' offseason is that they're headed for another regression in 2020. It's expected to be so bad, in fact, that some analysts think they'll be in the running for Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State's Justin Fields. In order for that to happen, the Bears have to be one of the two or three worst teams in the league.
Seriously? What am I missing?
Chicago was 8-8 last season with a minor league offense. They've taken steps to make sure that doesn't happen again with the trade for Nick Foles, and their defense -- which is still universally respected as one of the best in the NFL -- got better with the signing of Robert Quinn.
So, what gives?
Apparently, it's become fun to pile on the Bears. There's no other explanation for it. It just doesn't make sense. Yet, it continues.
Check out this NFC North prediction from The Draft Network, who has the Bears finishing in last place. Yes, behind the lowly Detroit Lions.
"Chicago went 8-8 because its defense still has a lot of teeth left in it from Vic Fangio’s days; and while Chuck Pagano is doing well to send extra rushers and generate turnovers, the loss of Fangio and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks really set the defense back a few steps," The Draft Network's Ben Solak wrote. "The Bears will need heroic play from rookie Jaylon Johnson and veteran Tashaun Gipson to account for losses in the secondary and pray that veteran passer Nick Foles can catch fire like he does so well to power them into the conversation for the division's best."
It's fair to say the Bears need Johnson to have a strong rookie season, but it won't take 'heroic play' to replace Prince Amukamara in the starting lineup. Amukamara was a solid and reliable veteran starter. He wasn't one of the NFL's best cornerbacks; all Johnson has to be is solid and reliable. And while Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a strong 2019 season starting along Eddie Jackson, the Bears don't need a hero to replace him either.
As for Foles? Solak has a point. It feels like the Bears are betting on some of that Foles magic coming to Soldier Field in 2020. If it does, this team is more than just an NFC North winner; they'll be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
I'm not so sure we'll see that Foles in Chicago, but even an average version of the veteran starter will be an upgrade over the volatile Mitch Trubisky. And if he's an upgrade for a team that finished with a .500 record in 2019, where's the logic to say they won't compete for the North?
Bears fans should love the disrespect and doubt that's flooding Halas Hall. Players who have pride, who care about their legacy, will use it as fuel for a winning season.
It certainly feels like one could be on the horizon in 2020.