Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) leaps over Chicago Bears safety Chris Prosinski (31) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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After being a sexy sleeper pick for the playoffs, the Chicago Bears have watched their seasons go down the toilet in a span of just three weeks.
For months experts have agreed on one point. The Cleveland Browns were the heavy favorites to finish 2016 with the worst record in the NFL and claim rights to the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. It makes plenty of sense. The Browns have been one of the worst teams in the league for years. They have a rookie head coach, lost several key players in free agency and are scraping the bottom of the barrel after two injuries at quarterback.
How could they not be the choice? Well it seems another team is taking up that challenge. Themselves devastated by injuries on both offense and defense, not to mention shaky coaching, the Bears look much more like a team destined for that top pick. At least Cleveland kept most of its games close. They narrowly lost to Baltimore in week two after taking a big lead and then took Miami into overtime before falling.
Chicago? Their offense has not score more than 17 points in a game yet this season and their defense has never allowed less than 23. Their discipline has hit rock bottom. They’re making basic mistakes on even the easiest plays to execute. Teams are not fooled at all by their play calls or designs. It’s just plain bad football.
The Bears have not held the #1 overall pick in a draft since 1947. That’s a span of 69 years. Not only is it one of the oddest stats that could be found in the NFL, it’s also one that could be about to change. If anything may have the chance to snap this franchise out of the clear funk its been in for going on 32 years, it’s holding the top overall pick in a draft.
Here is a quick reminder about teams who have held the #1 pick in the draft. Of those who used the pick between 2005 and 2014, six of the teams would make the playoffs within three years. It’s the kind of talent addition that can jump start a franchise into the right direction.
The last time the Bears even held a top 5 pick in the draft was 2005 and that turned int Cedric Benson. It’s little wonder this team began the slow disintegration it would endure over the next decade. GM Ryan Pace has said he’s intent on building this team into a consistent winner. It’s clearer than ever he hasn’t yet found the singular talent who can bring everything together. A superstar. Chicago hasn’t had one since Urlacher left.
The only way to a team can even come close to guaranteeing such an addition is with the #1 overall pick. Whether it’s a quarterback, a pass rusher or a franchise left tackle. It doesn’t matter. This team is devoid of a game changer. Somebody teams have to prepare for. Crazy as it sounds, the Chicago Bears may have to embrace being bad for the next three months in order to change that.