While each win is valuable for a team looking to establish a culture to build upon, each loss puts the organization closer to acquiring a transcendent talent that could change the franchise’s trajectory.
That’s a roundabout way of saying Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers could pave the way to a better future for the Chicago Bears. There was understandable agony after the Packers beat the Bears 23-16 in the team’s first week after the bye, but better days could be ahead if GM Ryan Pace takes advantage of having a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year.
The loss knocked the Bears’ record to 3-6 – and right into the top-10 of the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a look at what the top-10 would look like if the season ended today:
- Cleveland Browns (0-9)
- San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
- New York Giants (1-8)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-6)
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)
- Denver Broncos (3-6)
- Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)
- BEARS (3-6)
Since Chicago is one of seven 3-win teams entering Week 11, that order can change between now and season’s end. As for the team’s needs, they’re plenty – which is to be expected from a 3-6 team.
Cameron Meredith suffered an ACL injury in the preseason, Kevin White was sent to injured reserve after Week 1, and none of the free agent receivers acquired in the offseason emerged as a top pass-catching target. That leaves the Bears hunting for a potential No. 1 (and No. 2) receiver for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks lists SMU’s Courtland Sutton and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley among the draft-eligible talents who could be under consideration. We discussed Ridley as a potential Bears target (and fit) last week, if you’re curious about a player who could be on the team’s radar.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein lists offensive line, and defensive back along with receiver as the team’s most glaring needs.
It turns out Trubisky might need steady blockers up front as much as he needs a reliable receiver. Zierlein sees the offensive line as a position group with room for improvement. Center/guard Cody Whitehair has taken a step back after a stellar rookie season, Kyle Long continues to battle injuries, and Josh Sitton – while still productive – enters the final year of his contract with the Bears. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. has Pro Football Focus’ eighth-best run blocking grade and is the site’s 22nd-highest-graded tackle, but right tackle Bobby Massie continues to disappoint with a 67.9 grade that rates him as a “below average” player.
Cornerbacks are a likely target because Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller are free agents after this season. Amukamara missed some time, but has been the team’s best cornerback. Fuller has bounced back from a knee injury that kept him out of action in 2016, but opposing offenses clearly see him as a weak-link on the defense based on how often he is targeted.
Free agency could help dictate which direction the Bears ultimately go in the first-round of April’s draft. And after last week’s loss to the Packers, we’re left shifting our focus to the future.