The worst franchise in the NFL

It's a desperate time in Chicago, and it should be. The Bears keep bringing in saviors, but nothing ever gets saved.

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The best thing that ever happened to Patrick Mahomes was not Andy Reid or Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill. It was not being drafted by the Chicago Bears.

First quietly, and now loudly, the Bears have become the worst franchise in the NFL. They can’t score and they can’t defend, which has been a recurring theme for them for the better part of the last three decades.

Since 1996, the Bears have a total of seven winning seasons against 16 losing ones. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2010. In that time, they’ve gone through seven head coaches and cycled through more quarterbacks than Taylor Swift has boyfriends. They're currently mired in a 13-game losing streak, the longest ever for a franchise that dates back to 1920.

The knock forever has been that the Bears haven’t been able to find a franchise quarterback, which is true. Jay Cutler and Sid Luckman sit 1-2 on Chicago’s all-time passing list. But even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, and yet the Bears are still searching.

Why? Well, take a look at what went down just about 10 years ago.

On Dec. 31, 2012, the Bears fired Lovie Smith. That same day, the Kansas City Chiefs fired Romeo Crennel. The Bears and Chiefs were proud, underachieving franchises in desperate need of some direction. Both needed new GMs and both needed new head coaches. But while the Bears focused on hiring a new general manager to then hire the new head coach, the Chiefs skipped that formality and went directly after Reid, who'd just been fired by the Eagles and wasn't going to be on the market long after 14 mostly successful seasons in Philadelphia.

By Jan. 4, 2013, Reid was the Chiefs' new head coach. Twelve days and a new GM later, the Bears settled on Marc Trestman, who’d bounced around the NFL as an assistant for 20-plus years before landing his first head coaching gig … in the CFL.

And that really tells the story.

Blame Justin Fields, blame Mitchell Trubisky, blame whoever’s calling plays on the sidelines, but the common denominator in all of it is ownership. It’s Bears ownership that didn’t recognize the opportunity in front of it when Reid became available. That allowed former GM Ryan Pace to draft Fields after he’d traded up to select Trubisky over Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. That same ownership also allowed Pace to do anything after the disastrous pull-a-paycheck tenure of John Fox.

And that’s just in the last handful of years.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 24: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears motions before the play begins during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Justin Fields is 5-23 as a starter for the Bears since he was drafted in 2021. (David Eulitt/Getty Images) (David Eulitt via Getty Images)

So while the 0-3 Bears are in line for another No. 1 pick, and possibly (likely) two top picks because they also own the 0-3 Panthers’ first-rounder in 2024, why should there be any optimism in Chicago? What have the Bears done to show they can nurture a talent like Caleb Williams?

Patrick Mahomes is objectively a top-five quarterback all-time. He’s only in his sixth season as a starter. Who would he be if he’d ended up in Chicago, if Pace had seen the talent in him that Reid did?

That’s a scary thought if you’re Mahomes, and probably a scary one, too, for Caleb Williams.

A few weeks back, Williams’ father said his son will stay in college if the wrong team sits at No. 1. But would he really do that?

Well, having seen the results of Trubisky’s career after four years in Chicago, and currently getting a look at what’s happening to Fields in real time, why would Caleb Williams come out only to end up in the Death Valley of quarterbacks?

It's a desperate time in Chicago, and it should be. The Bears keep bringing in saviors, but nothing ever gets saved. At this point, even if they do end up with the top two picks in next year's draft, why would anything be any different?