Today is the beginning of a three-part season preview, broken into specific categories: Facts, Hopes and Predictions.
After Marc Trestman’s first season in Chicago, fans became irrationally optimistic.
No, the team didn’t have a winning record. No, they didn’t make the postseason. No, they couldn’t play a lick of defense. But the offense was fun to watch and Bears fans didn’t know how to handle that. So they jumped right to, “This team is winning it all in 2014!”
This space fought that optimism from day one. Teams don’t win Super Bowls with terrible defenses and the coach/quarterback relationship looked combustible to any objective observer.
What followed was the most embarrassing season in the history of the franchise. The Kromer Campaign.
This year the optimism is warranted. The Chicago Bears are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And there are three facts to support that contention.
Fact 1. The Bears have the best defense in the league.
Does it require any more explanation? This Bears defense is frighteningly talented and Pace/Nagy added Chuck Pagano – one of the more aggressive defensive play callers in the sport – to lead them. If this group is ranked outside the top five in any of the important categories it’s because they have suffered several debilitating injuries. If the Bears find themselves with home field advantage in the postseason, this defense would make them overwhelming favorites to make it to Miami.
Fact 2. The Bears have a terrific offensive line.
The quarterback’s development has taken most of the focus. The rookie running back has garnered most of the praise. But this team’s strength on offense is up front and a terrific offensive line make every element of the offense look better. I don’t think this is going to be one of the league’s best offenses but this group has the ability to control the tone and tempo every time the Bears get the ball.
Fact 3. Matt Nagy is a really good coach.
If you want the Xs and Os, there are plenty of better places to get those. (Including when Wood writes in this space.) It is the culture change at Halas Hall under Nagy that has been beyond impressive. Here’s what someone close to the organization texted me about the atmosphere:
The marketing people even look different walking in the front door. Everyone believes something great is going to happen. And that’s all because of Nagy.
Nagy is a leader of men. Leaders of men win Super Bowls.