After 71 years the Cubs are finally going back to the World Series. The Cubs’ resurgence into baseball’s elite didn’t just happen overnight – it was a process that took time to develop. The Cubs laid out the blueprint and now the Chicago Bears need to follow in the same footsteps to have a resurgence of their own.
It all started five years ago for the Cubs when the organization hired Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations on October 12, 2011. But, there wasn’t immediate success for Epstein’s club as the Cubs finished last in the National League Central during Epstein’s first three years.
In 2015 the Cubs hired Joe Maddon to manage the club. With a young talented roster and a new leader, the Cubs made it to the National League Championship Series – where they were swept by the Mets.
The loss didn’t discourage the young team but only made the hype around them grow. And 110 wins later and a dominant game six performance by Kyle Hendricks has the Cubs representing the National League in the World Series.
Now, what about the Bears?
It’s been nearly 31 years since the Bears last won the Super Bowl. How can a team that is 1-6 with nine games left in the season start to develop into something special?
It starts with patience.
General Manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox are both in their second year with the Bears. They took over a team that had plenty of holes to fill and it was unrealistic to think that the two could have built a competitive team in two short years.
A plethora of injuries also made it difficult to judge just how good or bad the team really is. To say one of the two has to lose their job for the team’s lack of performance at the end of the season would be a bit extreme.
With that being said, it will be interesting to see how long Fox stays in Chicago. He will have the rest of this season and most likely next to prove himself to the organization.
Just like the Cubs, the Bears have some young talent on their roster and the goal for the rest of the season should be to further develop that talent. Players like Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Kevin White, Eddie Goldman and Jordan Howard should be staple pieces as the team begins its transition into becoming relevant again.
But, the Bears need that guy they can rally around and has been with the team through the worst of times, like Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo – who was a part of the team that lost 101 games in 2012. Rizzo is the only Cub left from that 2012 team and now is a key piece on the World Series team.
That guy the Bears can rally around is pro bowl guard Kyle Long.
He was drafted No. 20 overall in 2013 NFL Draft and was a part of the 2014 team that only won five games. There are only five players left from the 2013 roster: Long, Jay Cutler, Marquess Wilson, Alshon Jeffery and Cornelius Washington. Realistically after this season all could be gone except for Long which would be the exact same situation that Rizzo was in.
Pace is making this Bears roster his own, just as Epstein has done with the Cubs. Before Pace arrived the Bears had the third-oldest roster. After Pace’s first season that moved down to 19th in the league, and now the Bears have the 10th youngest roster.
In the 2015 NFL draft, the Bears had six picks, five of those picks became starters: White, Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Jeremy Langford and Adrian Amos.
In 2016 the Bears had nine picks. Three became full-time starters Floyd, Howard and Whitehair. Three have had a decent amount of playing time Jonathan Bullard, Nick Kwiatkoski and Deiondre’ Hall. The last three are still looking to make an impact on the field Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Daniel Braverman.
Pace knows how to scout talent and that is why these young players are seeing playing time early in their careers. Bears’ fans need to give this young team some time to develop – just as they did for the Cubs.
With a high draft pick most likely coming from the end of this season, it will only help the Bears get back to the promise land. The Bears might not be a contender next season, but they will be relevant sooner than many outsiders believe.
If the Cubs were to win the World Series and the Bears a Super Bowl in one lifetime – that would be something Chicago sports fans could only dream of. But, maybe that dream can someday become a reality.