There inevitably comes a time in every team’s season when they recognize whether they have a shot at making the playoffs or if they’ll spend January watching the NFL postseason at home.
Some teams have a pretty good idea what kind of team they’ll be before that defining moment arrives, while others wait until mathematics tell them where their season is headed.
For the Bears, that moment appears to have arrived.
I didn’t believe that the Bears were a playoff team before the season began, but I wasn’t ready to rule them out after an 0-3 start. However, after two losses against divisional foes, Detroit and Minnesota — two games they were in position to win and had no business losing — the Bears have reached a threshold where they nearly have to run the table to make the playoffs.
No, they’re not mathematically eliminated, and they probably won’t be until December. But logic stands firm in this case.
So, the annual question that is posed when a team’s playoff chances have been eliminated is, “Do we tank the rest of the games for a better draft pick, or do we try to win every one of them to work on building a winning culture?”
I’m usually one who believes in the latter. For starters, no professional athlete wants to tank. They have too much pride to go out every Sunday and get their butts whooped, particularly in a physical, hand-to-hand combat game, testing one’s “manhood.”
But secondly, draft picks are so hit or miss. There are some general managers who have a better track record than others, but no executive in the history of the National Football League has had a flawless draft record.
Not to mention, the teams that usually draft well are good football teams that consistently find themselves at the end of each round. Do you think the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants (etc.) care where they draft? Those teams will find good players at the beginning, middle or end of rounds.
No, the Bears cannot and will not tank. They have too many weapons on offense to collapse and give up. They’re going to be competitive week in and week out no matter who they’re playing against.
As for the defense, they have many holes, but general manager Ryan Pace, head coach John Fox, as well as the entire organization, has every intention of building a winning attitude on that side of the ball.
To tank at this point would hinder any growth and cohesion moving forward.
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