Bernstein: Bears Are Better Than They Were

(670 The Score) The first wave of NFL free agency is about over, and it's another time to hold teams to the question required to be posed for every transaction undertaken by a professional sports franchise: Are you closer to winning a championship than before?

When we assess what general manager Ryan Pace has done in the past few days in its entirety, the answer has to be that the Bears are, indeed. Marginally so, perhaps, but they're a better team right now for what he has done lately.

Your dismissal of such an assessment as damnation by faint praise is understood and completely valid, but it's hard to argue with a retention of an important contributor, a pair of clear upgrades from the outside and one other more questionable move to bolster a critical position bereft of trustworthy talent.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan was the choice over the younger Nick Kwiatkoski, a nod to veteran leadership on the defense and the accelerated timetable to go for everything right now. He becomes part of an upgraded front seven that has to be considered among the very best in the NFL, regardless of the primary front employed.
Robert Quinn is better than Leonard Floyd, because he actually does what a 3-4 edge rusher is paid to do. Floyd is by no means an ineffective player -- as his eight-figure deal with the Rams reminds us -- but he can be considered a bust as a first-round pick drafted to sack the quarterback. Quinn is a much better bet to do what Floyd couldn't and provides some minimal near-term cap relief.
Nick Foles is either the presumptive starter at quarterback now or is waiting to come on if Mitchell Trubisky earns a quick hook after re-earning his own job. This is a far cry from Chase Daniel's previous role as de facto assistant coach and part of the Trubisky support team, instead adding real viability and a clear and ready alternative. The Bears are better at quarterback and will add another to the room at some point.
The Jimmy Graham deal was a head-scratcher, an expensive one for a onetime star in obvious decline. If we're fair, however, it still can represent an improvement for one of the least productive single skill positions of any team in the NFL in 2019. That is to say that even if Graham is bad, he still represents improvement for Bears tight ends.

We aren't getting into the reasons why these moves were made, mind you, because that's a different discussion. It's one that paints Pace as desperate to make up for a series of his own mistakes, chasing failed draft picks with money in the way that free agency has come to function. Good teams that develop talent don't have to do this. Pace may end up losing his job when all of this is eventually nowhere near enough to ward off the reckoning he has earned.

But just objectively, by the numbers and the eye test and in direct comparison to how the positions were manned before these moves, we see clear evidence of greater proximity to winning the Super Bowl. It won't be for long, so that slightly improved chance had better be cashed in as soon as possible.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.