BearsTwitter cries foul a little too often, but I'll admit that predicting a 3-13 season feels weirdly personal. Do you know how bad you have to be to go 3-13? *Lions fans nod* The 2019 Bears, who finished 8-8, were just as few bounces away from 10-6 as they were 6-10, but 3-13? It's funny, I'm sorry.
It's also super wrong, to be clear. The Bears blurb opens with "the schedule is brutal," which, well, no. Per Warren Sharp's site, the Bears have the sixth-easiest 2020 schedule, which is currently weighed by Vegas-set win totals:
Let's talk strength of schedule using projected win totals from the betting market.— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 8, 2020
I built three new tools for you to use here:https://t.co/IDGC24L4Pk
First one shows overall NFL-wide SOS plus one team's weekly schedule.
While ATL has the toughest sked, it's backend-loaded. pic.twitter.com/kHlB9hPlui
When it comes to the efficiency of the defenses they'll play against in 2020, the Bears still have the sixth-easiest schedule; as it stands right now, they won't see an above-average NFL defense in terms of efficiency until Week 5 against Tompa Bay. Four of their first six games come against defenses that were ranked 20th or worse last season. The tough aspect of their schedule, if you want to be picky, is that they'll see a lot of good offenses (fifth-toughest in opponent offensive efficiency). But their defense is still really good, and this is all besides the point.
If the Bears end up 3-13, though, is it actually the doomsday scenario that has BearsTwitter rage tweeting this morning? TBD. Realistically, it does probably mean the end of either Matt Nagy or Ryan Pace's time in Chicago. Ownership has shown patience in the past and reportedly is still satisfied with the job Pace has done overall, but Pace has gotten his shot at drafting a QB while Nagy hasn't. Maybe they're not both gone, but it's hard to see how they'd both come back. Presuming the Bears went 3-13 because they were in fact that bad and not because they suffered serious injuries at key positions, you don't run that back.
They're also not going to go 3-13 because of a defense that features multiple All-Pros. NFL windows are short, and the Bears as currently constructed are in the heart of theirs. The offense will look different soon – Mitch Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, and Cordarrelle Patterson are all technically set to come off the books in 2020 – but much of this team's core, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is signed through 2021 or beyond. There's not some systemic rebuild to be had here - at least not yet.
Plus, in this simulation, the Bears would have anywhere between the second and fourth overall pick in the 2021 Draft. That's good! If a healthy Bears team goes 3-13 with Nick Foles, how is running it back in 2021 any more prudent than seeing what they look like with Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields?
In a recent column about the uncertain nature of NFL rebuilds, The Ringer's Kevin Clark notes that legendary soccer manager Sir Alex Ferguson always felt that his teams had a four-year shelf life – and a study from the Harvard Business Review backed that up. With the way that rookie contracts are constructed, that's more or less the case in the NFL, too. A 3-13 record would be an ugly season, and absolutely no fun for anyone. But long term, is that any worse than say, going 8-8 again? And insisting that they're still one year away? The NFL is full of mediocrity, and sometimes the hardest thing for teams to do is get ahead of that self-realization. In that sense, 3-13 wouldn't be a nightmare, it'd be an opportunity.