Winning is important. Winning breeds more winning, creates a positive environment, and is the only way to establish the type of culture that produces sustained success. Joe Judge, in some bizarre, late-season pressers, tried to sell the cultural shift he authored in New Jersey to Giants ownership. They canned him. Why? He didn’t win enough. All reports from inside the building were positive. All results from on the field were not. The latter is all that matters, ultimately.
Football is a sport and sports are about winning and losing. That’s why they spend all that money on those fancy scoreboards. But for the new Bears leadership, 2022 should be about one thing and one thing only: finding out if Justin Fields is “the guy”. Finding that out while winning is, of course, the ideal scenario, and if he is “the guy” they will win. But the decisions made in the coming months should be geared towards the former, not the latter.
The Bears should spend money. But they should spend money on young offensive linemen and outside weapons that can grow and develop with Fields in the years to come. This isn’t the time for a 34-year-old guard or a veteran wideout on a one-year deal. The Bears are not championship contenders next season, despite what the Bengals achieved this past one. The money spent in 2022 needs to be relevant in 2023, 2024 and maybe even beyond.
And they shouldn’t spend a nickel on defense. (Hyperbole, yes, but you get the point.) The players they have rostered on defense for 2022 are plenty good enough to field a unit with a middle-of-the-pack floor, especially if Coach E is worth his salt at the top of the pyramid. Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Roquan Smith, Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson (in this defense) are a terrific defensive core. Play Thomas Graham. Draft a corner. Find a good off-ball LB in the middle rounds. This unit is going to require significant overhaul upfront in the coming years. Adding a high-priced talent now doesn’t make any sense.
Folks like to throw around the word “rebuild” in the NFL but rebuilds don’t really exist. A team’s championship clock starts the second they decide who the quarterback of their future will be. The Bears should have made that determine the second they drafted Fields, putting the likes of Mack and Allen Robinson on the trading block moments later. They didn’t. They self-inflated the value of their roster. They thought they could contend in 2021 with Andy Dalton. (I can’t believe that sentence is even possible to type.) And they wasted a year.
They don’t need to waste another second. Make ’22 about 1. If that project is successful, the years that follow will be too.