Making sense of the national media’s pessimism surrounding the Chicago BearsAnish Puligillaon May 23, 2022 at 1:00 pm

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If you’re a Chicago Bears fan, I’m sure you’ve seen it. 30th on NFL.com. 24th on ESPN. 27th on CBS Sports. 29th on NBC Sports. Even the ‘math’ (ESPN FPI) ranks the Bears 32nd in their team rankings.

With all this negativity surrounding the Bears’ outlook in 2022, the perception of this team amongst its fanbase (and even local media) and the national media could not be more diametric. Perhaps the national media, not as plugged into the team as the fans and local media, focus more on the Bears’ track record of hiring the right people and developing quarterbacks when forming their opinions, instead of evaluating their moves independent of the franchise’s history.

In any case, the outlook nationally is what it is and nothing can be done to fix this until games are played in September. However, I was curious as to how these power rankings actually pan out, especially for teams with second-year QBs expected to make big jumps.

The recent, immediate success of Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow specifically, in my opinion, has drastically altered many people’s perceptions of team building and conflated excellent wide receiver play with quarterback development, discounting other important characteristics such as leadership and football IQ which undoubtedly improve with experience.

The Chicago Bears may not be the 2022 summer media darlings, but winning May power rankings has zero relevance to how the season will play out.

A lot of what these power rankings are, and even the math, is looking at what is on paper and projecting the future. Most pundits nationally don’t have the time to watch every single snap from every single game, and more importantly, don’t have the time to monitor the pulse in all 32 locker rooms. Intangible qualities such as “a coach’s grasp on the locker room”, the scheme, player controversies, etc. are lost in the shuffle as national outlets put together content attempting to accurately characterize 32 NFL teams.

This is why even analytical projections such as FPI won’t do the Bears any favor. It wouldn’t account for a scheme change, the development of young players, and what an entire offseason of first-string reps might do for Justin Fields.

As a result, I decided to look back and see how accurate power rankings have been projecting the success of other second-year QBs. What follows here are two teams, in the past four years, that well overachieved their preseason ranking, showing how little these rankings actually mean.

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