The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been separated from the NFC North since 2002. However, the road to success has been quite different for all of the teams since the reconfiguration of divisions. Three of the former five teams have losing records. For the sake of our sanity let’s not bother with Detroit. But let’s focus on a team that is on a downward spiral, and the team that left that is on the rise. The differences between Tampa Bay and Chicago are night and day. The 2021 season will be the highlight of how different the directions of these franchises are going.
Since the change in 2002, Tampa Bay has only had seven winning seasons. Three of the mentioned seasons the Buccaneers went 9-7. The overall record since the change in 2002 is 130 – 174 in the NFC South. ironically, after leaving the NFC Central, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a Super Bowl in the 2002 season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the living embodiment of underachievers. With an overall winning percentage of .397, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the second worst winning record in all of the sports brands. Minnesota Timberwolves have a firm grip on the worst record. But if one were to dive a little deeper into the details, one would also notice that in the time since they left the NFC Central, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to accumulate two Super Bowl championships. A team that is full of talent, with a couple of new additions led by Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to the defy odds and shock the NFL world in one year. Many people thought that this was a failure waiting to happen, or that a playoff birth would be in store, but most definitely not a championship. That’s why most people were wrong to bet against the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers however are not done making history. For the first time since 1979, the winning Super Bowl franchise was able to resign almost everyone, and were able to resign every starter. The only player that is in the mist of leaving the championship squad is Antonio Brown. There is a high chance that he resigns with the Buccaneers as well. With a cupcake schedule of the AFC and NFC East in their future, and of course their rivalries with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, the Buccaneers road back to the Super Bowl, barring any key injuries, looks pretty much paved.
The Chicago Bears are a sad story of mediocrity. Without a doubt, the former Monsters of the Midway have lost their mystique of spreading fear into their opponents. With an overall record of 147-157 since 2002, the Chicago Bears have managed to rattle off six winning seasons. Four of the 19 seasons, the Bears managed to finish 8-8. Five of the winning seasons were double digit victories, but amounted to only 1 Super Bowl appearance. That appearance was an embarrassing loss to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. With one Super Bowl championship to their name, a lot of fans are still living in 1985, because the present is so painful. The acquisition of Khalil Mack in 2018 not only raised eyesbrows, but also raised expectations from the fans and the city of Chicago. Bad decision making from the front office has derailed this franchise. An example of these failures, in 2017 with the number three pick in the NFL draft, everyone knew that the Chicago Bears were buying a quarterback. With Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson, and Mitchell Trubisky available in the first round, the Bears of course do what they’re known for; they picked the worst of the three. Mitchell trubisky only lasted 4 years with the ball Club. After taking over from Mike Glennon in 2017, Mitch struggled his rookie year. His first full year as a starter, Mitchell Trubisky went 12 and 4, and led the Chicago Bears to a division title. A horrible missed field goal at the end of regulation, killed the momentum of the 2018 season. Nicknamed The Double-Doink, the Chicago Bears have never fully recovered from that embarrassing playoff loss. As mentioned before, mediocrity has set in for the Chicago Bears.
The only thing a .500 record will give you in the NFL world is a respect of knowing that you don’t completely suck. However, examining the roster, and seeing the amount of talent that is available for this franchise, leads to speculation that maybe coaching and the front office are the real issues. Unable to acquire big name wide receivers, Allen Robinson has been franchised tagged for the 2021 season. Kenny Golladay, and Sammy Watkins were ripe for the taking as free agents, yet went to other franchises. To add insult to injury, the Chicago Bears, managed to sign a lot of key defensive personnel and offensive line free agent signings, but did not resign their All-Pro corner, Kyle Fuller. A standout at the position since being drafted in 2014, the former Virginia Tech Hokie was a salary cap casualty after the 2020 season. The brand new Denver Bronco, had accumulated 390 tackles, 19 interceptions, and 82 pass breakups in his time with the Bears. Another salary cap casualty, was Buster Skrine; another defensive back. He was a former cornerback for the New York Jets.
While somehow proud of having mediocre quarterback play, and being unable to sign Russell Wilson away from Seattle, the Chicago Bears once again settled for an underachieving quarterback with issues. That departing Mitchell Trubisky received a one year deal with the Buffalo Bills, while Nick Foles remains on the roster as a backup. Andy Dalton, the former Cincinnati Bengal and one year Dallas Cowboys rental, was informed as soon as he arrived to Chicago that he would be the starter. In a division that has been manhandled by the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, the season already looks lost for the Chicago Bears and their fanbase in 2021.
The similarities and regular season records is disturbing. Since Tampa Bay has been gone, they may have less winning seasons, but has acquired more success. The Chicago Bears have had a carousel of quarterbacks. while the biggest question to be asked is why Chicago passed up on so many talented quarterbacks when an opportunity continued to spring its head from the ground. Only the McCaskey’s and the front office of the Chicago Bears know. But one thing is definitely for sure, an opportunity for a Super Bowl championship is not in the cards for the Chicago Bears in 2021. While in the heart of the south, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to redefine their roles as the worst winning percentage team in the NFL with a back-to-back championship. Sometimes, a change will do you good.
feature photo: CBS Sports