Rozner: So far, Chicago Bears who we thought they were
This is not your father's NFL.
It might not even be your older brother's NFL.
It's a mediocre league where the level of play is not even that pleasant in most cities, where the difference between winning the Super Bowl and finishing with the top pick in the draft might still be large, but the difference between winning and losing each week is minuscule.
That also means the separation between the former and the latter grows smaller with each passing draft and with each free-agency period -- if the GM is doing his job and finding playmakers.
It's all about playmakers.
Even the so-called "good" teams aren't really that good. They just have more guys who can make plays when it matters most.
Maybe they have a great pass rusher who disrupts what the quarterback is trying to do.
Maybe they have a great corner who takes away the other team's best receiver.
Maybe they have a safety who stuffs the run, forces fumbles or takes away the football.
Maybe they have a linebacker who can make that play on third down that gets the defense off the field.
Maybe they have a quarterback who can make the big play at the most crucial of times.
Maybe they have that receiver who can go over the top, or go up and get one. Maybe he's just a possession guy who earns a first down.
Maybe they have monster tackles who make running an offense possible.
Big running backs who run for the tough yards are a dime a dozen. It's hard to win NFL games these days getting 4 yards a pop, but the quick ones who can turn nothing into a big play can change a game.
The Chicago Bears might have that kind of player in Tarik Cohen, though you wonder if he can survive a regular beating. He's also the only weapon in a dump-and-chase offense, which won't make his life easy.
The Bears spent $18 million on Mike Glennon, and he displayed an ability Sunday to throw it to the other team, all while remaining a statue in the pocket.
So far, not exactly what GM Ryan Pace claimed Glennon was when Pace said everyone in the building was excited, thrilled and otherwise giddy that the Bears had signed Glennon.
Perhaps Mitch Trubisky will be one of those game-breakers, capable of making huge plays, but any rush to get him in the lineup won't benefit the kid.
So outside of Akiem Hicks, who was great last week, and Leonard Floyd, who has shown flashes, who will make those plays for the Bears?
This concept seemed a huge surprise to so many Sunday after a terrible effort in Tampa, but three years into a rebuild the Bears are severely lacking playmakers.
They should be making the playoffs and instead they're looking around the field and wondering who will change a game.
Who will make sure that in a 3-point game -- with the opposition deep in their own end -- the Bears don't give up an 88-yard touchdown?
Who will make a play from 5 yards out with a chance to win the football game in the final 20 seconds?
It doesn't even take that many really good players to win football games in this league, maybe three on each side of the ball.
It might not be enough to win the Super Bowl, but it can get you to .500 and keep the wolves at bay for a while.
Maybe the Bears have those players, but they either didn't show up again Sunday or they weren't on the field.
But so far they appear to be lacking, and it meant another ugly defeat.
A couple of weeks ago, Pace said being competitive wasn't good enough.
"Winning games," Pace said. "It starts with winning games."
And winning games starts with playmakers in a league where today you only need a few to be mediocre.
That doesn't seem like too much to ask.
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