Apparently the offseason turnover at Halas Hall failed to resonate with ESPN’s NFL Power Ranking voters, who placed the Chicago Bears at No. 26 post-draft -- the same position the Bears occupied in Week 18 last year following a brutal 5-11 season.
However, my personal Power Ranking ballot told a much different story. I felt comfortable ranking the Bears at No. 17 after the club hired proven head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Adam Gase, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and improved the roster with additions such as outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, safety Anrel Rolle, defensive end Ray McDonald and wide receivers Kevin White and Eddie Royal. I have no clue how voters can put the New York Jets one spot ahead of the Bears at No. 25. Even the most ardent anti-Jay Cutler fans have to realize that Cutler is a better quarterback than Geno Smith.
To be fair, the NFL schedule-makers made it tough on Chicago with a brutal three-game stretch to open the regular season against Green Bay, Arizona and at Seattle, but there is way too much talent on the roster for voters to rank the Bears amongst the rest of the league's bottom-feeders.
It’s understandable to be leery of Cutler’s track record, but Chicago still boasts a formidable array of offensive talent led by tailback Matt Forte, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, right guard Kyle Long and tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett is presently AWOL from the voluntary program in search of a new contract.
On defense, the Bears need to keep rebuilding, but I argue the defense instantaneously improved the moment Fox and Fangio walked thru the door in Lake Forest.
Chicago doesn’t resemble a playoff team, not yet, but 7-9 or 8-8 is not out of the question.