Chicago Bears: Tanking the Season is a Terrible Idea

The Chicago Bears should not be tanking the rest of the season in hopes of a higher draft pick.

Many Chicago Bears fans are lucky I’m not their dad. They would be sitting in a corner on a time out. They would stay there for the rest of the season, or at least until they stopped talking crazy. I want to take a moment to address some of the worst things I’ve heard bandied about.

The Bears should finish 2-14 so they can get the top draft pick

Bill Zimmerman touched on this in his recent podcast, but he pulled up way short on the topic. Talking about the difference between having one of the top three picks or drafting in the early teens after a strong finish, Bill said, “If you have faith in Ryan Pace and his eye for talent…he should still be able to find a top notch player…” Great point, Bill, why let off the gas? Some fans are already prepared to throw Pace under the bus after the 2-6 start this season.

If you are one of those fans, let me raise the ante and ask you this: If you don’t have faith in Ryan Pace and his eye for talent, what on earth makes you think he will “fix” what is “wrong” with this team with the number one overall pick? What if the Bears finish 2-14 and draft the second coming of Rex Grossman? If you look at the history of QBs drafted in the first round you will see that Sexy Rexy is as close to being the rule as he is to being the exception. Calling the draft a crap shoot makes it sound way too predictable. But that is nowhere close to the biggest reason to not tank the season.

The REAL reason to not lose eight in a row

Bill gives his reason for not wanting to see the Bears lose 8 straight as being that he is too competitive to watch it happen. I don’t think any of us are as competitive as most NFL football players. But even these elite competitors often struggle to take that last step from “Wow, here I am,” to “…and I have what it takes to shine here.” Ask yourselves this Bears fans, do you really want Eddie Goldman, Adrian Amos, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Howard and a host of other young, talented players to go the rest of this season without starting to taste anything that tastes like success?

How did the Bears start so poorly?

Why are the Bears 2-6 at the halfway point? The bottom line is that the Bears are rebuilding. They have a lot of young talent. All of those young players have talked the talk all year. It started before OTAs. It is the reason a lot of us drank the kool aid and believed this team would look like a deep playoff team right out of the gate.

But, before the Vikes game they never walked the walk, not for a full 60 minutes, anyway. They walked a few steps here and there. They flashed bits of brilliance and then fell on their faces like toddlers. And that is just what they were: a toddler team. They were learning to trust themselves. They were learning to do what they knew instead of trying to remember what they had been coached. Then on Haloween night the Monsters became real monsters. Do you want that to stop so they can get a better spot in the draft? Go sit in the corner.

The Bears will never have a chance without an elite QB

Many of the “tank the season” advocates think that the team can’t reach the next level without an elite QB. That is just more garbage, pure and simple. You only have to go back as far as Super Bowl XLVII to see why. The winning QB was Joe Flacco who put up numbers in the regular season which were above average for him, but not top 10. The losing QB was Colin Kaepernick. He put up career best numbers on career low passes per game, coasting behind Frank Gore’s 4.7 yards per carry.

Interestingly, the Ravens defense did not put up elite numbers for the season that year, either. They were 12th in the league for points allowed in the regular season, but in the playoffs they toughened up to a tie for second. The 49ers gave up the second fewest points per game in the league in the regular season, but dropped to 11th in the playoffs. So the recipe for the Super Bowl is having a better than average offense, having a better than average defense, and performing when it makes a difference.

What is the recipe for an elite QB?

Being elite in any aspect or at any position makes that last bit easier to do. Nothing makes stepping up when the chips are down optional. No position in the draft guarantees that the player you pick will get that done. No level of performance in college guarantees that the guy you draft will perform at the same level in the NFL.

An elite NFL quarterback is rarely just that one incredibly special guy. More often, an elite quarterback is a somewhat special guy. His team has somewhat special weapons. He plays behind a somewhat special O-line. He plays beside a somewhat special defense. And all of that is salted with just a wee pinch of good luck. Having a few elite talents sprinkled anywhere in that mix is good luck. Having an elite QB talent on a team with mediocre weapons, O-line and defense is like putting jet fuel in a Toyota Prius.  

The Bottom Line

So, the Bears not only don’t “need” a top three pick for a QB, they don’t necessarily need a top 32 pick. In fact, given better protection, which is already in progress, Conner Shaw could be the future for the Bears at the QB position.

The bottom line is, the best thing the Bears can do is win every game.  If winning one game means dropping 10 spots in the draft, the best thing to do is win that one game.  I am not going to recommend that you bet on the Bears, but I strongly recommend that you do not bet against them!

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