ESPN's latest projections suggest Chicago Bears aren't ready for playoffs

Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp
Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears are in a unique position. They added a rookie quarterback in Caleb Williams with the first overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, but general manager Ryan Poles's roster construction has put the team in a position to make the playoffs.

There is no doubt that Williams's situation with the Bears is the best situation a top-drafted quarterback has ever entered the NFL, but it's also important to remember that the Bears will still have a rookie starting quarterback in 2024.

Williams will experience rookie struggles as he learns what he can get away with at the NFL level, which is likely why ESPN's FPI rankings have the Bears projected to be in the bottom half of the league next season.

Of the four NFC North teams, only the Minnesota Vikings are projected at a lower grade than the Bears. The Detroit Lions are a dark horse candidate to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season, and there likely is a sizeable gap between where the Lions and Bears are. Having said that, many point to the 2022 Lions' team as the blueprint for what the Bears' 2024 season can be. The Lions had a slow start to their 2022 season but by the time the season was concluded, it was clear that Detroit was ready to end their rebuild and contend.

The biggest difference between the Bears and the Packers is the quarterback play. If Jordan Love does not experience a sophomore slump in his second season as a full-time starter, they likely will remain ahead of the Bears. The Bears, though, have the better roster and could leapfrog the Packers in the event that Williams thrives immediately.