Lions or Bears: Which rebuild would you choose?

The Bears believe they have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields, while the Lions have a trove of young talent at other positions.

SHARE Lions or Bears: Which rebuild would you choose?
Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears

The Bears tackle Lions running back Jamaal Williams last month.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

For most of the 2010s, the Bears and -Lions were easy to distinguish from each other. The Lions had the long-term answer at quarterback and the Bears had the better roster.

This year has flipped the script.

The Bears believe they have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields, while the Lions have a trove of young talent at other positions.

If both teams have proved anything over the last decade-plus, it’s that neither formula is the path to winning when it matters. They have combined for one playoff victory since 2010.

Which team is better position to change that? It depends on your preferred starting point — but, for the first time in a long time, the answer might be the Lions.

Their rebuilding program is farther along than that of the Bears, and it has been done with care. Entering Sunday’s game at Ford Field, the Lions have four more victories and -countless better, healthy, players than the Bears.

Consider:

† The Lions have drafted five players in the top 38 over the last three years. The Bears have taken one: Fields. The Lions will take at least two more this offseason — they own their own draft pick and that of the Rams, who are currently slated to pick eighth. The Bears will have a prime draft selection in 2023 — with two weeks left, they trail the Texans, who hold the first pick, by a half-game.

† The Lions have three of their own first-round picks on their offensive line — tackle Taylor Decker (2016), center Frank Ragnow (2018) and right tackle Penei Sewell (2021). The Bears have one of their own first-round picks on their entire roster: Fields.

The Bears know it takes time to build a line — “It’s hard to get high-level players at a position group all at once,” coach Matt -Eberflus said — and that it won’t all be solved even with a free-agent splurge. Bears -general manager Ryan Poles is projected to have $119.4 million in 2023 cap space, while the next-closest team has $50 million less.

† The Lions have the league’s worst defense but have used their highest draft picks on defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2 overall in 2022) and cornerback Jeff Okudah (No. 3 in 2020). They’ve been inconsistent — Pro Football Focus considers Hutchinson the 30th-best edge rusher and Okudah the 74th-best corner — but represent the two -positions that all modern defenses must invest in. The Bears haven’t drafted a Round 1 cornerback since 2014 or a first-round defensive end since 2012.

† The Lions boast Amon-Ra St. Brown, a former fourth-round pick who ranks seventh in the NFL with 96 catches and 10th with 1,050 yards. He isn’t even the most intriguing receiver on his team. That would be former Alabama star Jameson Williams, for whom the Lions traded up to draft 12th, made his NFL debut Dec. 4 after tearing his ACL during the national-title game. The Bears have drafted three receivers in the top 12, ever — and the last was Kevin White.

Quarterback Jared Goff has had a resurgent year — his 98.3 passer rating is his best since his Rams went to the Super Bowl in 2018 — but won’t likely be the centerpiece of a championship team. His Super Bowl appearance was a rarity in which a team reached the Super Bowl without a superstar quarterback.

Fields still has a chance to, with improvement, find that stardom. His performance with a depleted offensive roster gives the Bears hope he will take off when paired with better teammates. That’s the comfort the Bears have in the face of all the above — from their lack of recent first-round picks to the fact they traded their high second-rounder to the Steelers for receiver Chase Claypool.

Even if Fields develops, he’ll need help. The Bears know that. And so do the Lions, who won little with star quarterback Matthew Stafford for 12 years, only to watch him win the Super Bowl with the Rams last -season.

The Latest
Sandra Kolalou, 37, denied killing and then cutting up Frances Walker in 2022 at the Northwest Side home they shared.
Sox get shut out for seventh time this season, fall to 3-16 on the season.
Ball hasn’t played since the 2021-22 season. Since that time, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have emerged as legit scorers. Has the guard room gotten too crowded? Donovan doesn’t think so.
Maldonado took .061 batting average into White Sox’ weekend series against Phillies