In some ways, the 2018 Bears are a very different team than the one that ended the 2017 season. In other ways, they are building on more of the same.
Head coach John Fox was fired, and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was not retained. Those two were replaced by offensive-minded Matt Nagy and former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, respectively.
Those were the first steps for Chicago in trying to get a breakout second year out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Then, along with the philosophical and schematic reboot, came upgraded offensive skill personnel through free agency and the draft.
The topic has dogged the league ever since, in part because President Donald Trump grabbed the issue and has continued to criticize the players, even as the NFL tried to put out the long-playing public relations firestorm.
As recently as last week, Trump called the NFL’s new policy of allowing the players to remain in the locker room as worse than protesting.
What really matters: Bryant was ruled academically ineligible for 2018, and having already used his redshirt, he had no other alternative but to enter the Supplemental Draft. He was arrested and charged with a DUI in January 2017. He’s a fantastic athlete, as shown by his Pro Day testing, and with added time for preparation might have been even more impressive. His mental make-up and attitude remain concerns for NFL teams, perhaps more so than any other player in the Supplemental Draft, but his athleticism is hard to deny.
Major league baseball teams have, by turning more and more innings over to bullpens, collectively adopted a high-variance strategy that can make a good team look bad not for a game or a week but for a season. It’s almost certainly wise to lean heavily on relievers, the better of whom are generally more dominant in their one-inning bursts than (even superior) starters are over seven or eight innings. Relievers can be matched up against batters so the team on defense has the platoon advantage more often. Relievers can be saved until the most perilous moments so the best pitchers’ finite pitches aren’t wasted in six-run games. It’s good strategy, which is why it’s what the game has been moving toward since, oh, 1950? Maybe earlier.