2019 Is the Year of the Bear

It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to boast about winning the division. Our neighbors from up north, the Green Bay Packers, have had a strangle hold on the division for over a decade. It sucks to lose to your rivals, but those days are over! Winning days are back in Chi-town and they’re here to stay. It was an amazing ride this season; from last to first in the division, an incredibly dominant defense, a young quarterback growing in front of our eyes, a rookie head coach blazing a trail…it was great. It ended with a playoff game in Soldier Field, the place where playoff games are meant to be played. But as good as it was our goal isn’t to play in the playoffs, or even to have home games in the playoffs. It’s not about beating the Packers, it’s all about playing in February and coming home with a ring. It didn’t happen this year, but if this year was an indication of the future, our future looks bright.

2019 is going to be the Year of the Bear. The 2018 season took us from last to first in the division and the first home playoff game in over a decade, but 2019 will be even better. Let’s take a look at just how and why the rest of the NFL needs to worry about the Monsters of the Midway.

  1. Football is a highly athletic game. There is a lot that goes into what can make individual players dominant, but youth is a huge factor. It can work against you because if a player is too young he likely won’t have the experience needed to compete at the highest level. Too old and you’re body won’t be fast or strong enough to compete with the young guys, but there’s a sweet spot when you get the best of both worlds. Mitch Trubisky, Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, and Tarik Cohen are all 27 years old or younger, they all have starting experience, and they all are still improving. That’s an incredible nucleus of young talent that the team is being built around.
  2. Everyone knows that coaching matters. Head coaches in the NFL have to be on the hottest seat in professional sports. There’s only 32 teams in the NFL and an average of 5 head coaches lose their job every year. General Managers are always on the lookout for the next big thing, the next coach with the revolutionary scheme, the leader that is going to take the team from zero to hero. It goes without saying that it’s a lot easier said than done. The majority of head coaches in the NFL can’t produce winning seasons and even less can win the division. It’s hard work. But Matt Nagy makes it look easy. Nagy came to the Bears from Philadelphia, part of the Andy Reid head coaching tree. He was the quarterbacks coach starting in 2013 before being promoted to the Offensive Coordinator. He’s a great offensive mind that knows not only play-calling, schemes and how to work with a quarterback, but also how to develop young talent. Turbisky made huge strides under Nagy in only his first year with the team. With another offseason under their belt, the offense in 2019 should go from warm to red-hot.
  3. The defense. Maybe I don’t even need to finish this paragraph, maybe just saying “The Defense” is enough. The Chicago Bears are synonymous with dominant defense and this team is welcoming that reputation and putting their own stamp on it. Just days before the 2018 season kicked off the entire NFL world was watching to see where Khalil Mack, one of the most terrorizing defenders in the game, was going to end up. Jon Gruden had stepped in as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders and he was making huge waves in every way imaginable. Everyone knew that he was going to makes changes to the player personnel so that it would better suit his schemes, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Oakland’s loss became our gain. Mack showed up in town and when he stepped on the field our defense immediately went from above average to top 3. He brought such a dynamic presence to the field that it made everyone else better. This will be his first offseason with the team and allowing these guys that much time to gel as a unit almost doesn’t seem fair to everyone else.

It’s true…we lost Vic Fangio as our defensive coordinator, and he’s going to be missed. He was highly respected in the locker room by both the other coaches and the players. He knew how to coach players and create schemes that frustrated offenses. He is so good at his job that he got a promotion, he’s now the head coach in Denver. We wish him the best. But in Chicago we know the show must go on and that’s why we picked up Chuck Pagano to fill his shoes. Pagano was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for 5 seasons, but before that he was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. The same Ravens team that terrified the league with their defense. Pagano runs an aggressive 3-4 defense that looks to dictate to the offense, not the other way around. They act, they don’t react. There’s going to be some rough times ahead for the NFC North.

The future is bright in Chicago. We’ve got young coaches who are hungry, young players who are already making Pro Bowl appearances, and experienced veterans who are excited about what’s next. According to the Chinese calendar it’s the Year of the Pig, but we know better, 2019 is the Year of the Bear.