Top 10 Reasons the 2018 Bears are the 2015 Cubs
Am I saying the Bears are winning the Super Bowl next year? Read on…
There have been far too little comparisons between the 2015 Chicago Cubs and 2018 Chicago Bears. A wrong I intend to fix in this article. For our longtime readers, or anyone that can see the blog’s subtitle reads “An empirically based…”, presenting a case like this may feel a tad off message. You may even point out, just a couple short weeks ago in the 2019 NFL Teams on the Rise/Fall we were not too kind towards the Bears reason for optimism in the coming year. I can assure you my general thought processes are still grounded in objectivity and tangible evidence. However, given the sheer volume, there are simply just too many “anecdotal correlations” between this past Bears team and the Cubs team one year prior to their Championship.
Of course, we are all too familiar with what typically happens “the year after” for our beloved clubs: Remember the optimism going into Cubs 1990, 1999, 2004 and 2008 Seasons before the 2016 season (if you forgot how that ended: An Unwisely Thrown out Script). And just as we’d grown accustomed to a strong season followed by a flop with our Cubbies, the Bears have done the same (think 2002, 2008 and 2011). Are you starting to get where I’m going with this?
Essentially, any good prognosticator would tell you the luck with injuries, drastic turnaround and all the abundant predictive data on hand, that the Bears are likely to regress backward next year (same old, same old, right?). But, if you compare the 2018 Bears with the 2015 Cubs/what they did the next year, you start to start to see they have the same fingerprints on them. And that thought quickly turns to “objectivity-ignoring-optimism” for the Bears in 2019. You start to see this past season may have been an inflection point for the franchise (just as it was with the 2015 Cubs). So, without further ado, here are the “Top 10 Reasons the 2018 Bears are the 2015 Cubs” in order:
Top 10 Reasons the 2018 Bears are the 2015 Cubs
10. For the first time in club history, the 2015 Cubs began the season with a home night opener, against their archrival the Cardinals on Sunday Night. The 2018 Bears also kicked off their season in primetime, against their bitter rival: The Packers on Sunday Night. Both the Cubs and Bears lost. Not important, but fun to remember
9. The 2015 Cubs made the playoffs and would go on to lose to the defending NLCS Champion, the Mets. The 2018 Bears made the playoffs and would go on to lose to the defending NFC (and NFL) Champion, the Eagles.
8. Most of my readers are aware the Pythagorean Win Theorem (if you need a refresher: 2017 NFL Season Predictions) is a pretty reliable indicator in projecting the next years win totals, the 2015 Cubs had an adjusted win total of -4 games, yet increased their total by 6 games in 2016. The 2018 Bears have a -2.6 adjusted win total in 2018. Again, not likely to have any correlation, but we’re just warming up.
7. To get their offense the spark it needed, the 2015 Cubs acquired Dexter Fowler to hit in the leadoff spot. Similarly, the Bears, particularly given QB Mitch Trubisky’s penchant to utilize the TE, needed a legitimate starter to come in. TE Trey Burton was acquired in the offseason. Both players proved crucial to addressing those offensive needs.
6. Both teams lost in the playoffs yet proved something critical to next year’s success in doing so. The Cubs had long been known to “1-and-done”, or flop, in the playoffs, but instead completely shutdown 2 division rivals proving they could win in October. Although the Bears did not advance in the playoffs at all, their Franchise QB proved he could lead a team from behind in the 4th quarter to put his team in a position they
should could win.
5. After a year under his belt, and a lot left to prove, QB Mitch Trubisky would show he was worth the trade capital it took to acquire him, earning his first Pro Bowl nod. After a stellar first year, recently acquired SP Jake Arrieta would go on to win the Cy Young Award in his second year with the Cubs.
Now we move past the “semi-coincidental” items to the ones downright eerie…
4. The typically frugal Chicago Cubs made a splash in Free Agency, acquiring an elite SP, Jon Lester, in the prime of his career. The move shifted the Cubs from being considered a stellar pitching staff, to an elite one. The Bears too made a lot of noise before the season started, acquiring LB Khalil Mack. Mack, a top 2-3 defender in the league, and made a Top-10 defense into the league’s best. Oh, by the way, they were both given 6-year contracts ($155 million to Lester, and $141 million to Mack).
3. In 2015 the Chicago Cubs hired Manager Joe Maddon. Joe was known as the epitome of a “players coach”, who could relate to a team filled with early 20-somethings. In 2018 the Bears hired 40-year-old Head Coach, Matt Nagy. Just like Maddon, Nagy was someone that could relate to “all the millennials” on his roster. Both won Coach of the Year for their Clubs in their first year on the job.
2. After a century of losing, the Cubs sought to find a VP of Baseball Operations that knew how to build a winner, they found young but established Theo Epstein. Epstein spent a few years tanking, and acquiring solid, young talent via the draft. (Eerily) Similarly, the Bears found their own young Front Office Czar in Ryan Pace. Both “GM”s shared a philosophy in turning around a club via the draft. Pace would also spend a couple years uprooting the aging, porous talent on the squad, with young studs acquired through the draft. Both teams would endure a few losing seasons before their “inflection point seasons” in 2015/2018. Obviously, they both made similar coaching staff decisions mentioned before at the exact same time in this process, with the exact same type of coach. Additionally, interesting enough: Epstein had come from the Red Sox, a franchise he turned around after they had amassed decades of losing into a World Series Champion. Pace (granted not from the position of GM) had come from the New Orleans Saints. A team long-known as losers until their magical 2009 campaign. They literally have the same strategy to a “t”.
1. Both teams decided to turn their locker room into a disco party after key victories. Yup, that’s number one. Half kidding, that is, not the dancing specifically but the drastic change in culture shared by these two teams at this insanely similar timeline is very significant. Even from a fan’s perspective, you could feel the air of negativity around these teams before the respective GMs and Coaches came in. Once they did, perfectly meshing with the youth in the clubhouse/locker room you could feel the new vibe. Fewer practices, veteran days off, silly sideshows, and yes dance parties perfectly complemented the tangible building blocks put in place. There was a systemic cultural shift in both these teams, and the 2015 Cubs proved it was just the start.
*Directing our eyes to the future for a moment, I do see one last similarity. One that may not have fully come to fruition as yet: Going into this offseason for the Bears, it really feels everything is in place with one big exception: kicker (I will not give him the satisfaction of naming him). For the 2016 Cubs, they were in a semi-similar situation, albeit one during the actual season when they acquired Closing Pitcher, 100 MPH hurler and noted wifebeater Aroldis Chapman. With all we’ve seen does this mean the 2019 Bears will be able to find their last piece too?
There you have it: Top 10 Reasons the 2018 Bears are the 2015 Cubs. Some that are clearly correlated but not causal for fun, but many others that really make you stop and think. Assuming anyone that has spent this much time reading thus far is a Chicago Sports fan, you know this isn’t far fetched. That is, do I think there is some kind of divine hand nudging the Bears to assured Super Bowl victory in 2019, of course not. The point of all this is the Bears, whether intentionally or not, have followed the Cubs blueprint that has proven successful to the letter. Throw out the numbers, the data even I have provided. If there ever was a time to think Super Bowl, wouldn’t the league’s 100th year be kismet for this organization?
So, am I saying the Bears will win the Super Bowl next year: Absolutely I am.