Nobody would ever accuse Dave Wannstedt of being a premier football mind. However, one should at least respect his wealth of experience with the game. He coached in the NFL for 18 years and won a Super Bowl in Dallas. The man may not have been the greatest head coach during his time with the Chicago Bears, but he still knows what it takes to build successful teams. That is why his opinion on GM Ryan Poles‘ approach to 2022 was interesting.
Everybody fears the word “rebuild” when talking about the state of a franchise. It implies the organization is trending toward a lengthy bout of losing while they try to restore the roster to contending status. Bears fans have endured multiple rebuilds over the past 30s. Some were more successful than others. The ultimate payoff never materialized. Still, Wannstedt believes Poles made the right call by gutting the roster of as many expensive veterans as possible.
He explained his reason on NBC Sports Chicago.
It is an interesting point. The idea offered is that Poles doesn’t want to get caught in the trap of one side of the ball trailing the other. He wants to build them at the same time. This presents the opportunity to stack both with enough talent to make a serious championship run. When looking at recent Bears history, this perspective is pertinent. From 2005 to 2012, it was all about the defense for Chicago. Then when the offense finally got going in 2013, it was too late. The defense had gotten old and crumbled.
Wannstedt understands what Poles is doing because he tried to do the same thing back in the 1990s. After his first season as head coach in 1993, the Bears tore down their roster, with most established veterans either retiring or leaving as free agents. They worked to retool the roster and came close to pulling it off. They were 9-7 in 1994 and 1995, with some young talents emerging. Sadly, too many poor draft decisions caused the team to never get beyond that plateau.
Chicago Bears rebuild hinges on their drafts.
That is where success is defined in these situations. The better you draft, the more likely the rebuild will result in contending for a Super Bowl. Below is a chart of the past four periods in Bears history that can be constituted as rebuilds. They encapsulate when a new regime takes over to the moment they get fired or enter contender status for the first time. Only 1st round picks are listed in the interest of brevity.
That tells the story. The foundation of the Chicago Bears‘ success in the 1980s was laid in 1975. Obviously, rebuilds can’t take that long these days. Poles will have to score significant hits in the next two drafts to jumpstart this thing. He gave himself opportunities to get off on the right foot in 2022 with an 11-man draft class.
Maybe two or three will turn into good players.
It would be an excellent way to start things off. The interesting part is whether the GM will hold to that philosophy or will he panic and start leaning more on free agency. Wannstedt can only hope it’s the former.
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