it was beautiful.
In the final game of the season all the Bears had to do was do what they do best: lose. Step by step, from firing Khaleel Mack in March to dismissing Justin Fields just days ago, this is what they were designed to accomplish.
The Bears lost to the Vikings 29-13 on Sunday, and like a preseason game, the details of how they reached that result are largely irrelevant. What matters is that it made him the No. 1 pick in the draft for the first time since 1947.
They couldn’t have done it without former coach Lovie Smith, who led the Texans to a dominating 32-31 victory against the Colts. His team rallied for a touchdown in the final minute on a desperate fourth-down hew to the end zone and Smith opted to go for the two-point conversion.
This left the Bears with the NFL’s worst record at 3–14, ending the season on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak, and the Texans improved to 3–13–1.
Those 10 consecutive losses were necessary, facilitated partially by the trades for Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. After the Bears defeated the Patriots in Week 7 – their highlight of the season – they were in line to pick the 14th spot.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles could use the top pick any number of ways. He could be overshadowed by Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson or Georgia star defensive tackle Jalen Carter. He could reshape the quarterback position by drafting Bryce Young from Alabama or CJ Stroud from Ohio State, and could make a similar move by trading Fields for more draft capital.
Even if he commits to Fields, it would be prudent for Poles to make a public stand that shows support but still assures the rest of the league that it is considering Young and Stroud. Is.
Preferably, though, he would parlay that pick into more picks. The Bears are a team that has a million problems, and while whoever they take at No. 1 will immediately have top five players on their roster, they’ll be looking to run like the Dolphins did two years ago when they traded up for No. 1. 3 pick to the 49ers for No. 12 and two future first rounders.
If Poles keeps it, he makes it better. Teams needing Hall of Fame talent have high selection. For example, if Anderson turns out to be as good as Miles Garrett, it will be worth it.
That draft pick currently stands as a pillar of the Bears’ future. Polls can’t afford to rattle it off for the same reason Ryan Pace picked Mitch Trubisky second in 2017.
Whichever course he chooses, the Poles can use their multiple draft picks and a league-high $118.1 million in salary-cap space to repair the worst roster in the NFL.
The Bears had the NFL’s most harmless defensive line with just 20 sacks in 17 games.
He allowed a league-high 27.2 points per game.
They were a bottom-10 offense and allowed Fields to be sacked 55 times.
Tight end Cole Kemet was the only player to reach 500 yards, with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
The bears knew where they were going.
That alone is a change from the pace era. As the team posted 8-8 records in 2019 and ’20 and came off 6-11 last season, Pace was on his way out at the expense of future draft assets and the salary-cap table.
Poles took over a team that wasn’t good and didn’t have clear solutions. The only option was to blow it up.
But this season is bearable only when it actually leads to something.
Swinging a wringing ball is easy. Building something great on this bulldozed site is the hard part.
As Poles approaches the one-year mark of getting this job, he has done most of what anyone could do after running in Pace’s dirt.
Only once since joining the team in November did they try to trade a second-round pick for wide receiver Chase Claypool, who had 14 catches for 140 yards in seven games.
The Poles and coach Mats Eberflus got by quite a margin this season because everyone knew what had to happen. Which is why no one is running the Bears out of town after leading them to the second worst record in their 103-year history.
The Bears made the playoffs (of sorts) in 2020 at 8-8 under Matt Nagy, and the general consensus is that it was a better season for the franchise. He was empty, while it seems purposeful.
But Sunday was the last time Poles and Eberflus could point to the demolition required and talk of implementing “championship habits” as achievements. When the next season starts, they will be evaluated on the basis of wins and losses.
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