Silver-linings playbook: Bears are a bit of a mess, but at least they’re an interesting mess

A pumpkin dropped from an eighth-story window is entertaining. So are the Bears.

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Bears coach Matt Nagy (left) and general manager Ryan Pace have been entertaining in their own exasperating way.

Bears coach Matt Nagy (left) and general manager Ryan Pace have been entertaining in their own exasperating way.


It’s a new year, so let’s try to look at the Bears differently. Consider this a way to free yourself, if even for a moment, from the anger and anguish that come with giving your attention to them.

The Bears are mediocre at what is commonly known as “playing football.’’ Their decision-making abilities on and off the field are suspect. The franchise is maddening in its stubbornness, especially as it relates to quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s value. It is tone deaf in so many ways you wince whenever a front-office type clears his throat to start a news conference. The Bears are all these things.

But they’re also interesting and entertaining.

Now, before you wrap your season-ticket receipts around rocks and throw them at me, understand that things could be worse. The Bears could be the Jaguars or the Dolphins or the Bengals.

Or the Bulls, for that matter.

Weeks and months go by with these franchises, nothing of note happens, and fans can’t tell the difference between sleep and consciousness so they give up and start binge-watching their ceilings.

With the Bears, we have Trubisky, and a quiet moment doesn’t exist, does it? This is a tragicomedy, a topic of endless discussion and a shared experience (so is indigestion). Last week, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy had a joint news conference to discuss What Went Wrong in 2019, and their considered opinion was that it was nothing a lot of words with little meaning couldn’t solve. And also that “Mitch is our quarterback’’ for 2020, a statement from Pace that is still being hacked to pieces by machetes but also being sifted through for deeper, subtler meaning. Hint: There is no hidden meaning.

I’m trying to remember what we did with ourselves Before Mitch, and for the life of me, I can’t recall anything after commissioner Roger Goodell announced, “With the second pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears select Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina.’’

In a way, we’re blessed. Again, I ask you to tilt your head and look at this from an angle other than the death stare you’ve been aiming at the Bears for the past three years. I implore you to embrace the entertainment value the team accidentally provides. A pumpkin dropped from an eighth-story window is entertaining. So are the Bears.

Perhaps you sat down Saturday for a calming, enjoyable afternoon of postseason football far, far away from the Bears. They didn’t make the playoffs, so this was a wonderful time to get some distance from them, to not think about the disappointment of an 8-8 team. To relax. And then the Texans’ Deshaun Watson had a magical second half to lead his team to a comeback overtime victory over the Bills. Outside of Chicago, everyone knows Watson as an excellent young quarterback. In Chicago, we know Watson as one of the two star-grade quarterbacks whom Pace passed on to take Trubisky. The other one is the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, last season’s NFL Most Valuable Player, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME, RYAN?!

Nagy reveled in his team’s togetherness during a difficult 2019, but the organization is dysfunctional in its own fascinating way. I want you to think about this very, very hard: The franchise that hired the men who traded for the grumpy, wildly up-and-down Jay Cutler also hired the men who traded three draft picks to move up one spot in the draft to take the earnest, wildly up-and-down Trubisky at No. 2. Meanwhile, there are cities leading lives of quiet desperation that have Jacoby Brissett or Kyle Allen for their quarterbacks. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Of course you want excellence. Of course you’re in it for the victories. But if you can’t have that, at least make the team you follow so infuriating and so fantastically bizarre that you want to scream. If you can scream, you’re alive. If you can’t, you’re a Jaguars fan.

Some of you are going to look at this as surrender, as fire and brimstone giving way to aromatherapy. It’s not. It’s the realization that entertainment comes in all shapes and sizes and colors. There’s a reason we’re attracted to the villain in the black hat. We don’t like him, but we can’t take our eyes off him.

The Bears aren’t evil. They just have a long history of bumbling. If I were Pace, I’d sign another starting quarterback in 2020 and move on from Trubisky. But that wouldn’t be the Bears’ way, and from the standpoint of someone who prays for something interesting to break out, I’m secretly aboard. Many of us remember the dark days of Rick Mirer, Cade McNown, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson and Jonathan Quinn. Pace threatened us with a return to that when he signed Mike Glennon in 2017.

Then came Trubisky, and we haven’t stopped talking since. Life is good, if you look at it the right way.

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