The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had not been in the playoffs since 2007. Last year they were 7-9 and featured a quarterback setting interception records.
Now they’re in the Super Bowl because they replaced the interception machine with the best the game has ever seen and their pass rush beat up the league MVP in the title game. (The game is a simple one. Play great quarterback. Disrupt the other team’s quarterback. And spend all your money on those two things.)
Where will the Bears be next January? That’s the question many are asking on Chicago sports radio and on the back pages of the dailies. What are fair expectations for the coming season? For those asking me, here’s my answer: how the hell should I know?
Expectations for the coming season will be completely dependent upon the quarterback room. The Bears are still going to be a good defense, with greatness potential. The Bears will add to their offensive line and skill spots, most likely keeping Allen Robinson on the franchise tag. This roster, as currently constructed, can easily return to competing for a wildcard spot next season.
But will that excite anyone? Should it excite anyone? There are three probably scenarios, with a nod to Christopher Guest.
Scenario One: Best in Show
If the Bears land Deshaun Watson in an unlikely trade, they immediately become the most interesting team in the NFL next season. That’s not hyperbole. It’s fact. The jersey sales would prove it. The schedule release in April – where the Bears would be all over primetime – would prove it. The acquisition would reinvigorate the entire franchise.
Scenario Two: A Mighty Wind
Sam Darnold redemption tour?
Ryan Fitzpatrick writing a final chapter to one of the NFL’s craziest, beardiest stories?
Jimmy Garoppolo returning home to lead the franchise who grew up loving? (I have no idea if this is true but how can you grow up in Arlington Heights, love football, and be a Chargers fan or something?)
Jameis Winston just out there flinging it?
The Bears could find a quarterback capable of playing the position but should they really expect any of these men to improve the production they’ve received in the Mitch Trubisky era? With the latter three, definitely.
Scenario Three: Waiting for Guffman
What if Nick Foles is the Week One starter with a highly-drafted rookie like Mac Jones waiting in the wings? It would not generate much excitement for the results of the 2021 campaign but it would give fans something to be excited about, wouldn’t it? The Chargers did not have a good 2020 but there’s no question their tiny fan base is excited about what Justin Herbert achieved this season. A bad season can be tolerated if it generates hope for the future.
Three possible roads.
The road the Bears take will greatly determine the excitement level at Soldier Field when fans hopefully return in September.