Eight is Great: The Bears’ 2018 success is reflected in Pro Bowl representation
ORLANDO – Yes, this wasn’t the ideal spot for the Bears to be at the end of January. If they had it their way, the group would be in Lake Forest, making the final preparations for a week-long trip to Atlanta.
Alas, it didn’t happen. That Super Bowl dream died nearly three weeks ago in a Wild Card loss to the Eagles at Soldier Field.
Yet the consolation prize isn’t that bad – a Winter trip to Orlando to take part in the NFL’s version of the All-Star Game. It’s not the whole team getting to go, but it’s a pretty significant group.
Eight players are apart of the Bears’ representation for the 2019 Pro Bowl. Five were initially elected, with three others brought on as replacements for those who had to pull out of the game.
The amount of Bears in the contest is a testament to the incredible turnaround the franchise made in just one year. At the 2018 Pro Bowl, not a single member of the team was on the field for the game, as the Bears remained in NFL mediocrity having just fired a coach for the third time since 2012.
A turnaround came quickly under Matt Nagy, with the team boosting its win total by seven as they won the NFC North for the first time in eight years. New additions meshed well with the veterans, and with the changes of Nagy’s offense along with the consistency of Vic Fangio’s defense, the Bears flourished.
The momentum of the season may have ended with a jolt on January 6th with a 16-15 loss to the Eagles, but their efforts earned some impressive representation this week in Orlando.
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, defensive end Akiem Hicks, safety Eddie Jackson, and punt return Tarik Cohen got in on the initial selections. Over the past week, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, center Cody Whitehair, and offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. were added as replacements.
Only Mack, who is dealing with a slight knee injury suffered in the Wild Card game, is not taking part in the week in Orlando.
The first practices began on Wednesday and will continue through Friday before the game is played on Sunday. What’s unique for the Bears’ contingent is the fact that the seven players on the field over the next few days will be doing so for the first time. Only Mack had taken part in a Pro Bowl previously, so the experience is something quite new to the young group.
It’s the biggest group to represent the Bears since their NFC Championship-winning 2006 team sent eight players to the contest. The record for the franchise is 11, which was set by the 1942 squad that finished the regular season undefeated but was upset by the Redskins in the NFL Championship.
In 1985, the only Super Bowl title year in franchise history, nine players were selected to the Pro Bowl.
Maybe the Bears can get more next year if they can end what is now a 34-year championship drought. But for the moment eight is more than enough.
In fact, eight is great.