Chicago Bears Following Houston Astros Blueprint

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Jose Altuve /

Are the Chicago Bears following the same path of the Houston Astros?

The Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017 for the first time in the franchise’s history. When Jeff Luhnow took over as general manager prior to the 2012 season, his plan was to build the team basically from scratch. This type of radical rebuild had never really been tried before but Luhnow believed in his plan. Other than a young, 21-year old Jose Altuve, Luhnow got rid of the rest of the roster and built the team up through their minor league system and the draft.

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In Luhnow’s first year as the rebuild began, the Astros won a meager 55 games. In 2013, they dropped to just 51 wins. In 2014, they jumped to 70 wins. In 2015 they won 86, in 2016 they won 84, and in 2017 they jumped to 101 wins and won the World Series.

If you look at the core of this team, Altuve of course, was on the major league roster that Luhnow took over. George Springer was their first round pick in 2011. Carlos Correa was the first overall pick in 2012 (Luhnow’s first pick). Alex Bregman was a first rounder (second overall) in 2015. Yuli Gurriel was signed after a defection from Cuba. Plenty of other key players were brought up through the system, and when the Astros knew they were ready to compete, they started bringing players from the outside and of course, the trade for Justin Verlander that put them over the top.

Let’s compare Luhnow’s plan to what Ryan Pace is attempting to do with the Chicago Bears. Like Luhnow, this type of rebuild really hasn’t been tried by a team. Pace stripped the roster down and found one key building block on the roster (Kyle Long) like Luhnow did with Altuve. Pace found a few other useful players from the Phil Emery era that he has kept on the roster, but other than that, erased about 90% of the 53-man roster.

Pace’s plan was to build from the ground up. He wanted to find the future stars in the draft and then fill in the blanks with low-level free agents. Presumably, when Pace feels like his roster is on the cusp of being a championship roster, he will spend the major money on the free agents needed to put them over the top.

The Bears rebuild in 2017 appears to be where the Astros were in 2014. Many of the key players were just starting to show flashes on the roster (Altuve, Springer, Correa), but they weren’t ready for prime time. The team finished 70-92, which looks pretty darn close to 7-9, the type of record the Bears look like they are headed for this season.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

2015 was the jump the Astros took to be a competitive, borderline playoff team. That should be where the Bears are in their rebuild in 2018. If the Bears can follow this path, and understandably, this is a giant leap of faith, but if they are a 9-7/10-6 type team in 2018 and 2019 and they make the jump to a Super Bowl caliber team in 2020, that’s something every Bears’ fan can get behind.

Ryan Pace and the Bears have to continue to draft well. If the draft classes start to stumble, the Bears rebuild will stall and even potentially fail. Many Bears fans are quite frustrated with Pace, but that was the same rhetoric that was going around Houston four years ago.

The key in a rebuild like Pace is attempting is patience, and telling a fan base that has had to deal with losing for years to be patient is a very tough sell. That’s what the Bears have been doing the last couple seasons and much of the fanbase is frustrated and calling for the head of the general manager. Some fans still believe in the rebuild, but many do not. Making the jump to a playoff caliber team is a difficult jump to make, but with a core group of players like Jordan Howard, Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky (hopefully), Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and the rest of Pace’s young up and comers, the Bears may very well be able to eventually make the jump the Astros made in 2017.

The Bears’ jump to Super Bowl contender isn’t happening in 2018 and probably not in 2019 either, but if the roster develops like Pace believes it will, the Bears could be holding up a Lombardi Trophy sooner than many Bears’ fans realize.