The Chicago Bears are trading Roquan Smith for the Baltimore Ravens

Roquan Smith

Off to Baltimore Image: Getty Images

For 30 years, almost every good thing that happened to the Chicago Bears was an accident. The only time they ever looked streamlined was in the mid-2000s when they had a GM who hired his own trainer, namely Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith. That was the only time they’d made the back-to-back playoffs since the fucking ’90s. Actually still is.

Every other time the team was some kind of swampy concoction, with coaches forced on GMs or vice versa, and the car crash of disparate plans converging at Halas Hall.

Sometimes it worked, as the debris from the previously arranged marriage left just enough pieces for the next one to cobble together a bionic creature to be good. That’s what happened in 2001 when Mike Brown sneezed and an overtime INT just landed in his hands and returned it for a touchdown. That’s what happened in 2018, when the end of the John Fox What-have-ya left just enough defensive players lying around to be a dominant unit, dragging Mitch Trubisky’s offense. None lasted longer than that one season because they were built on the sands of expediency.

But that was always the problem. With no cohesion for decades and no clear thoughts from year to year, there was always one unit ahead of the other and they had to catch up just enough on the flawed side to hold it all together. That’s why you all got Rex Grossman foisted on for a Super Bowl, because the Bears had Super Bowl-worthy defense but needed to get creative on offense. It wasn’t streamlined.

The same goes for 2018, when Ryan Pace put together a pretty grueling defense against his will, but then had to ram everything down the slide on offense to make it representative. Were not on the same timeline. One peaked, one didn’t, and then all was soon lost as Matt Nagy stared blankly from under that damn visor.

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Oh don’t worry, there are a lot of angry meatballs in this town today (I mean, there always are, but today it’s pointing one way instead of all while they move to the suburbs and mutter about taxes). They’ve never seen a true rebuild, at least not with the Bears. It’s still pretty rare in the NFL to see a team tear it down to the cleats. The league is filled with so many generic Oreo infills that you’re never more than a few good draft picks and signings of 9, 10, or even 11 wins. But that’s all you’ll get, and probably only for a season, maybe two. That’s too tempting for most. Playoff berths, after all, add hours of work. This is sort of a first for blue and orange.

On the surface, trading a 25-year-old linebacker like Roquan Smith, who was at times considered one of the best in the game, makes little sense. But getting a second and fifth from the Ravens is quite a premium, especially considering Von Miller netted a second and third at deadline last year and he’s playing a much more important position. GM Ryan Poles knows that the secondary and defensive lines are the far more important parts of defense. It’s clear he knows the offense needs an overhaul. If you need two receivers, two offensive linemen, and at least the same number of defensive linemen, you probably aren’t tempted to spend another summer explaining to Roquan why you can’t pay him $20 million a year because he’s himself so represents a donkey. You have to stack the draft picks and keep the cap space powder dry.

It can work. It’s not allowed. What can’t be disputed is that the Bears are streamlined for the first time, if ever, in a long time. There is a plan that is followed from the top down. The Poles are still yet to hit a majority of the now nine picks he has in the draft (more may come later today before the close if he feels like dropping more of what’s not locked down). He doesn’t need to use all of the cap space he has now, but whatever he’s using, it’s better to be crisp. The opportunity is exciting, but we’ve seen enough go wrong in these parts to check ourselves before we go overboard. Nevertheless it comes.

More importantly, the bears have answered perhaps the most important question. It’s only been two straight weeks and there’s more to come, but Justin Field’s Flashs are the essential piece the Bears just never had. You now have all the ammo to flank him with the help he needs. Much like what we thought in the 2021 draft, they have the best QB out there. And we think Trevor Lawrence continues to resemble Wild Thing Vaughn before he got glasses every Sunday.

The Bills did. Three straight playoff appearances and now the best team in the conference. The Dolphins did that and now have everyone’s attention, at least when they’re not actively killing their two quarterbacks.

It’s not comfortable and the next 10 weeks could be tough at times. But it’s reasonable. It’s clearly thought out. It’s streamlined. All the things the bears never were. What a world.