Forget what you keep hearing, these Bears aren't that bad

  • Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols (98) celebrates with teammates after an interception against the Detroit Lions in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.

    Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols (98) celebrates with teammates after an interception against the Detroit Lions in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/9/2021 5:28 PM

While I would never pretend to know what's on the minds of every Bears fan, you have to admit I'm in a better spot than most to take the temperature of the neighborhood.

It feels like the majority of its residents either prefer to pretend Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy deserved to be fired after last season and all is lost until they are, or all will be well if they acquire a franchise quarterback at any cost.

 

I don't understand why anyone would choose either when both almost certainly lengthen the road to contention rather than paving it.

Pace and Nagy have to be better at their jobs than they were last year, and fixing the quarterback position would cure a number of ills.

Since neither is happening this offseason, I prefer focusing on what could go right for this team and keep debunking the silliness these Bears are among the dregs of the league.

The 2021 version is every bit as talented -- if not more -- than the 2018 team everywhere but possibly at quarterback and cornerback.

I'll take running backs David Montgomery and Damien Williams along with Tarik Cohen (also in the 2018 backfield) over Jordan Howard and Benny Cunningham.

Allen Robinson is better now than he was then, Anthony Miller is the same and Darnell Mooney is better than Taylor Gabriel. Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet over Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton is as easy as it gets.

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The interior of the offensive line is better with Cody Whitehair at guard rather than center, veteran James Daniels is preferred over half a season from Kyle Long, and Sam Mustipher looks like a keeper at center with Alex Bars offering solid depth.

The tackles are basically the same but not worse.

On the defensive front, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols are much-improved players and Mario Edwards Jr. provides the same juice as Roy Robertson-Harris did.

Linebacker Roquan Smith is a much better player than he was three years ago. If he gets back to just 85% or 90%, Robert Quinn is a big improvement over Leonard Floyd, and Jeremiah Attaochu is an upgrade over Aaron Lynch.

The loss of Kyle Fuller is huge but there is a nice mix of youth and veterans to choose from to plug the hole, if not fill it, and Jaylon Johnson showed flashes of being better than Prince Amukamara.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The safety spot next to Eddie Jackson is an unknown, and if Tashaun Gipson returns he is an upgrade over Adrian Amos.

Cairo Santos over Cody Parkey? I rest my case.

Where the doubters find issues is in the myth it's an aging defense incapable of reclaiming its 2018 mojo.

In response I offer you the defending world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Love Tom Brady, but their D is the main reason the Bucs have rings.

It's as close to a clone of the Bears group as you'll find in the league -- potentially dominant front sevens with better than average secondaries that benefit from the speed, athleticism and pressure of the guys up front.

Ndamukong Suh (34 years old), Jason Pierre-Paul (32) and Lavonte David (31) are all older than counterparts Akiem Hicks, Robert Quinn and Danny Trevathan. Shaq Barrett, who will never be mistaken for the complete player Khalil Mack is, exploded after being M.I.A. the first two -thirds of the season.

You know these guys, the ones the Bears outplayed and beat last year.

I am predicting nothing, just pointing out the idea the Bears are a lost cause is kind of football stupid.

If Quinn and Jackson bonce back just as the Bucs vets did, and the Bears find three quality rookie starters in the draft -- not easy but just like last year -- nothing would be stunning about them winning the NFC North.

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush

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