Thanksgiving in Detroit Presents Bears with Opportunity for a Season (Or Why Losing for “Better” Draft Picks is Ridiculous)

| November 25th, 2014


Here is something I don’t want to hear. Or read. Or listen to. Or find in my fortune cookie.

Bears should lose games for a better draft pick.

Research project for those espousing this ideology.

Prove that the number 8 selection in the NFL Draft has more success historically than the number 18 selection. Prove that number 5 selection has more success historically than the number 25 selection. Unless you are in the market for generational talents, specifically at the quarterback and pass rush positions, draft position has little to do with an organization’s success in the draft. You know what does matter? Talent evaluation.

Do you think Chance Warmack and DJ Fluker and Jonathan Cooper would still be taken before Kyle Long? Do you think Trent Richardson would be taken before Doug Martin? Do you think Matt Kalil would go a round earlier than Cordy Glenn? Would Dee Milliner or Morris Claiborne get drafted? Go look at the horror show that is the top of 2013 draft. Go look at the 13-17th selections in the 2014 draft.

And isn’t it odd how certain franchises retain their positions at the top of the sport? New England, Green Bay, Baltimore, New Orleans…etc. continue to be in contention for postseason berths every year while none of them ever select in the top ten come April. How is that possible? Oh, that’s right. They choose the right players when they are on the clock.

I know why fans act the way they do. Fans invest emotionally in a team they believe can make the postseason or win a championship. That emotional investment means feeling pain should the team lose. Nobody wants to feel pain. Pain kinda stinks. Once a fan can check out, or at least say they’ve checked out, they can divest emotionally from the occurrences over the three hours of their favorite team’s game. “Lose for draft picks” is another way of saying “if I expect or hell, even WANT, my team to lose I will not feel sad about them losing”. These fans are what doctors commonly refer to as full of shit.

Though some don’t want to hear it, the best case scenario for the Chicago Bears is this coach being the right coach, this general manager being the right general manager and this quarterback being the right quarterback. The way that manifests itself is through victories.

A win Thursday in Detroit gives the Bears meaningful football games in December. A win Thursday means the Bears need only 3-1 down the stretch to sport a winning record and show improvement in the standings from a year ago. A win Thursday means mathematical elimination from the postseason, which a month ago seemed likely before Thanksgiving, may have to wait until Christmas.

These are huge stakes for a Bears season left for dead on the flight home from Wisconsin. A win accelerates expectations for the final month. Who won’t be excited for a 6-6 Bears team hosting the Cowboys in primetime next week? A loss means the Bears will require an improbable table run to finishing the season with more wins than losses and motivation inside the locker room will be a far more elusive commodity.

For many, this season was defined by the embarrassment of back-to-back road blowouts against the league’s two best teams. Thursday is an opportunity to give 2014 new definition and rebuild excitement at Soldier Field. If the Bears win they begin their playoffs a week later, at home, against the Cowboys. Every win comes with life, with hope. Every loss brings the 2015 offseason much closer.

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