Rozner: Best news is Bears season over
And thus, another fine Chicago Bears season is in the books.
Once again, there is no winning record. Once again, there is no division title. Once again there is no playoff berth.
The 2016 Bears (3-13) lost more games than any Bears team in 96 years except the 1969 Bears (1-13), impressive considering the extraordinary parity of today's NFL. For the first time in a 16-game season -- 38 years -- they won fewer than four games.
And with Sunday's loss, the players will scatter.
Some, like Jay Cutler, may pick up and leave, never to be seen in this city again.
Some, like Kyle Long, will heal up and return.
Some, like Kyle Fuller, will remain a mystery.
What's certain is GM Ryan Pace will be released from witness protection this week and meet the media to explain why the Bears had a great season and how the franchise is on track for something special after two years and a 9-23 record.
Pace will say John Fox did a great job keeping the team together. They fought hard all year and tried really, really, really, really hard. They tried harder than any team in football.
And they lost their final two games by a combined score of 79-31.
Pace will say the Bears got younger. Pace will say lots of players got hurt and lots of new players you've never heard of got playing time and this will pay big dividends in the future.
The Bears made a lot of progress this year, especially considering they played so many first- and second-year players this season.
This will be explained 17 or 18 times in the next news conference.
So if you're keeping score at home, the Bears said they would be good in 2015. Then, they said 2015 was better than it looked and they would be better in 2016. Now, they will say this season was better than it appeared to be and great things are ahead for 2017.
Maybe there will be great things in 2017, but this regime hasn't exactly done well forecasting to this point.
What's certain is there's an excuse for every problem, it's not their fault, things will be much better in 2017, and your eyes are bad if you think 2016 was abysmal.
The reality is, the Bears did not have a single first-round pick on the field Sunday in Minnesota, but they will have a very high pick in the 2017 draft if they don't trade down.
Add it all up and you have one playoff appearance in the last 10 years and no titles in 31 years, and constant is the presence of the McCaskey family and Ted Phillips.
"We feel the structure we have is a good one," George McCaskey said two years ago when he fired Phil Emery and Marc Trestman. "The head coach reports to the GM, the GM reports to the team president (Phillips), and the president reports to the chairman."
Said Phillips that day, "I don't regret the hiring of Phil or the hiring of Marc."
Just so there was zero confusion about who was in charge of the Bears, Phillips reminded everyone that, "(Consultant Ernie Accorsi) will make recommendations, but ultimately the decision on GM will be made by George and myself."
Given their fine track record, how can you not have faith after 31 years?
"We have an excellent collaboration," McCaskey said on that Bloody Monday. "Ted keeps me informed on actions he's taking or will take. We collaborate. It's not a voting situation.
"Ted and I understand the history of the Bears. Ted and I have lived it. We feel a collaborative effort is the best way to go.
"Our family has complete faith in Ted. He has our complete support."
Two years later, the Bears are still terrible, but the franchise value is now $2.7 billion and they had an operating profit last year of $104 million, according to Forbes.
So why make major changes? Why pay a coach $5 million for two years to go away and retire? Why do anything?
All is well in Lake Forest.
• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.