The excuses were there and would have been valid.
- No team had played a game on less rest.
- They started a backup QB who hadn’t played extensively in five years.
- They were coming off one of their more emotional wins in recent memory.
But none of that mattered.
I started this season writing about how the Bears looked like the same old Bears and that’s because they did. Blowing a huge fourth quarter lead to the Packers on opening night was very on-brand.
But on Thanksgiving Day, the 2018 Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions despite all the excuses. In doing so, they proved they are a different team. Comparing this year’s Bears to versions of the team under Marc Trestman and John Fox is just ridiculous at this point. This was even a game the Lovie Smith Bears would’ve lost.
This team didn’t. They didn’t need excuses. They just went out and won. Somewhere along the line, the team changed. Somewhere they found their swagger and turned 2018 into something with the makings of a special season.
The Bears should win the division. The Packers and Lions are pretty much out of it and the Vikings have some difficult games before the rematch in Week 17. Three wins should be enough to give the Bears the NFC North and that’s great.
But maybe it’s time to start thinking about more?
There’s no denying that the New Orleans Saints and LA Rams look really, really good. It would take the best the Bears have to beat them, but those are the targets to start looking at. Much of the fan base is still looking at this Bears team as being a year away but, unfortunately, the team may not have that luxury. The Jacksonville Jaguars were a year away 12 months ago. Imagine if the Eagles settled on their “year away” status in 2017.
Of all the things that have gone right for the Bears this year, the biggest has been health. They’ve had bumps and bruises, here and there, but the most significant players have played a significant majority of the snaps. That isn’t likely to happen again.
There are also possible personnel departures this off-season.
- Bryce Callahan has been a huge part of the league-leading defense and Adrian Amos is turning in another solid season. The Bears are surely going to lose one — if not both — of them.
- The Jordan Howard question gets more complicated by the week.
- Vic Fangio is going to get calls to be a head coach again. It seems unlikely that he’ll get hired, but he has a strong reputation and all it takes is one owner to pull the trigger.
Changes happen from year-to-year. There’s no guarantee that the 2019 Bears will be better. So, why wait for 2019?
Maybe this is the year.