Rozner: Selling hope for future what Bears do best
Some of us have been around long enough to remember when John Lynch was a clown, Jon Gruden was a fool and Ryan Pace was a true NFL genius.
You might recall Pace was the man who outsmarted an entire league and found steals when no other GM even knew those players existed.
These were universal truths and, yeah, that was like 15 minutes ago.
All were popular subjects and frequent trends on social media, and these were the opinions of so many specialists around the NFL.
Today, Pace and the Bears are 4-6 in the fifth year of a rebuild. Niners GM Lynch has a 9-1 team and the best record in the NFC. And Raiders boss Gruden has a 6-4 club and is tied for the final AFC playoff spot, with a chance to win the AFC West.
Don't rush to crown San Francisco or Oakland. It's not the point. Things change quickly in this league.
But that makes it all the more shocking that the Bears will be into their sixth year under Pace in 2020, assuming he keeps his job.
The worst part is as they end Year 5, they still don't know if they have a quarterback, still don't know if they have an offensive coordinator and their head coach -- also quickly dubbed a prodigy in Chicago -- is becoming more suspect by the day.
Expert as they are in changing the story, soon you'll hear that a disappointing season still has great import because of what you can learn from it, that the final six games have enormous value.
As usual, it's nonsense.
You learn very little in games that don't matter. When it's garbage time, there's no pressure. When there's no chance to make the playoffs, it is fool's gold.
But a team flushing Super Bowl aspirations will absolutely trumpet any success down the stretch as proof that next year is the year.
It must be exhausting to be a Bears fan.
If Mitch Trubisky plays well for the rest of the season, it won't represent anything other than him playing well in games that have no impact on the standings.
And it won't be proof that Matt Nagy can adjust as a play caller or grow as an offensive coordinator.
Still, it was not Nagy who risked his career to draft this quarterback.
Nagy did not build this offensive line.
Nagy did not draft Adam Shaheen in the second round or assemble this tight end corps.
Play calling criticism is absolutely reasonable and too often Nagy has refused to run the football. Too often, he has gone for the extraordinary when the simple was available.
But the basic argument is the same one used against John Fox, who knew then what Nagy knows now, that his quarterback is not ready for prime time, that he can't read an NFL defense and if he throws it down the field something very bad could happen.
Yet he was hired entirely to make Trubisky a superstar and it's not happening.
So what is Nagy to do?
Pace's existence is based on Trubisky succeeding. He bet everything on the quarterback, believing he knew something others did not.
And it's Nagy's job to make it work. It's also his job to protect Trubisky at all costs and to continue the sales job regardless of any evidence that points the franchise in a different direction.
At least, it must be that way up until the point at which Pace is relieved of his duties or makes a change at the quarterback position.
As for the rest of this season, the Bears will let the results decide the narrative.
If they win some games, they'll say it's proof of a bright future.
If they stink it up, they'll say it's understandable, that the defense was tired and the players succumbed to the emotional fatigue of a disappointing season when the Super Bowl was the goal.
As for fan exhaustion, well, the franchise will absolutely pretend to care.
Selling you their concern is one thing at which they've always excelled.