How Can the USA Today Rank the Bears Dead Last?
Dec 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) hands the ball off to Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
I know I’m late to the party here, but after seeing USA Today’s offseason power rankings and the Bears ranking 32nd in the league, I needed some time to wrap my head around how anyone in their right mind can possibly justify that statement. To be objective and not come across as a “homer” I always try to wear 2 “hats” (or “mindsets” for those that may not understand the jargon) when I’m reflecting or writing about the Bears: my fan hat and my analyst hat. I have worn both hats, which included looking at opponents’ rosters, and still cannot understand what the USA Today was thinking or what they were on.
I am well aware that this team won 5 games last year but I’m also well aware that many experts had the Bears winning the NFC North and some even had them representing the NFC in the Super Bowl heading into 2014. What does this mean? It doesn’t mean much in terms of playing the game but it does mean that there’s a lot talent on this team – at least on paper. Did they all forget how to play in one offseason? So lets take a look at some of the key offseason moves that the Bears have made:
Key Coaching Additions – Head Coach John Fox, DC Vic Fangio (2014 defense was #10 in points against and #5 in yards given up), OC Adam Gase (2014 offense was #2 in points scored and #4 in yards gained).
Key Player Additions – DE Ray McDonald (SF), DE Jarvis Jenkins (WASH), S Antrelle Rolle (NYG), LB Pernell McPhee (BAL), LB Mason Foster (TB), DT Eddie Goldman (DRAFT), WR Eddie Royal (SD), WR Kevin White (DRAFT), C Hroniss Grasu (DRAFT), RB Jeremy Langford (DRAFT).
Key Losses – The entire incompetent coaching staff (hooray!), WR Brandon Marshall, LB Lance Briggs, CB Charles Tillman, LB DJ Williams, DT Stephen Paea, S Chris Conte, DE Trevor Scott, LB Darryl Sharpton, OL Eben Britton.
There’s no question that just by looking at those additions and losses, a poor defense got better and already talented offense appears to have gotten deeper. The biggest changes happened with leadership and at the top with Fox, Gase and Fangio. All have resumes of winning that includes Fox’s .572 regular season winning percentage and .533 postseason record. Again – can someone please explain how they got worse? I’d love to see that justification.
Lets take a deeper dive into the rankings:
Raiders, Redskins, Buccaneers, Titans, Browns, Jaguars, Jets – What do these teams all have in common? Well, they’re all ahead of the Bears in the rankings and are teams that have no business being ahead of the Bears heading into 2015. The Jets had a nice offseason so may emerge out of this group but should not be ahead of the Bears at this point. For example, the Titans have an offense led by an overrated rookie QB who’s biggest offensive weapon is Delanie Walker. Not to mention a defense that ranked 26th last year. How can they be ahead of the Bears?
Rounding out the bottom 6 in USA Today’s ranking was the Titans – 31st, followed by the Redskins – 30th, Browns – 29th, 49ers – 28th and Buccaneers – 27th.
The top 5 were lead by the Seahawks and followed by the Packers – 2nd, Colts – 3rd, Broncos – 4th and Ravens – 5th.
In the NFC North, the Vikings came in at 13th while the Lions ranked 19th. Even with the Vikings on the rise (especially defensively) and the Lions on the decline, combined with the coaching overhaul on the Bears, I have confidence in saying that the Bears should finish 2nd in the NFC North.
I think it’s absolutely laughable that the Bears would be ranked last, especially when there’s no explanation to justify it from the USA Today writers. I understand that the USA Today is not exactly the sports hub that fans rely on but it’s one of largest newsprint media outlets in the country. Wouldn’t you think that they would employ sports analysts that have some neurons to break down arguably the most popular sport in the country? It’s safe to say that I will never spend 1 more second of my time reading the USA Today sports column but I just had to jump on the opportunity to criticize their typical east coast bias.
I know it’s ridiculously early but where do you think the Bears rank right now?
For a full breakdown of the power rankings on USA Today, please click the link below: