Oracle After Hours: Henry Schleizer on the Bears and their rebuild

Henry Schleizer, co-opinions editor

‘Tis the season. The holidays are right around the corner, people are happy, Christmas has been ushered in with flurries of decorative lights, pine trees and (very) ugly sweaters. To go along with the good times, the Chicago Bears won the NFC North with an elite defense and an offense built with speed and creativity. In short, this year’s team has been traditional, yet unorthodox. They have played like no other Bears team ever has, but they have stuck to the roots of the franchise and they have built a perennial contender without a superstar quarterback.

I’m a bigger Mitch Trubisky fan than anybody I know. And while he has played excellent football and led the Bears to 10 wins and a division championship so far, he isn’t the star of the show. Yes, he plays an important role, but he isn’t the main character. This season, Trubisky has thrown 23 touchdowns in 12 games, nine of which he has won, and has displayed the ability of one of the next great dual-threat gunslingers in the league. Although Trubisky’s development as a passer has propelled the Bears forward, the havoc-creating defense has been what the Bears have hung their hat on.

In a league rapidly moving into the age of offensive innovation, the Bears have won with defense. Khalil Mack and Company lead the league with 35 takeaways and five defensive touchdowns, and have stomped out teams like the Rams, Vikings, and Packers, all of whom were supposed to light up the league with their stellar quarterback play and offensive talent. With an exception to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears divisional opponents (at least this year) have missed the mark on building a championship team.

Building a championship team is hard. It requires creativity, aggressiveness and a whole lot of luck, and in the current day and age of pro football, the goal of building this team is to create an offense that can outscore anybody anywhere at any point in the season. Yes, the Bears did devote multiple draft picks, lots of money and a lot of time to developing an offense that can win games (they currently have the fourth best offense in the league), but general manager Ryan Pace spent record-breaking money on Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan, all of whom have rewarded Pace with all pro level play. Pace also devoted multiple draft picks to developing the defense over the past four years.

The Bears aren’t the first to build a winning team like this. The Eagles did it last year with a great defense and offensive supporting cast. They did have Carson Wentz, but backup quarterback Nick Foles is the one who won the Superbowl. The Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys are all teams that have won doing the same thing the Bears have. However, nobody had done it perfectly until the Bears completed their rebuild this year.

Oracle After Hours is a bi-weekly series featuring short opinions columns written by editors of The Oracle.