Bears, Jaguars not so different after all as last 25 years follow similar paths

The Bears are 4-3 all-time against the Jaguars. | AP Photos

Since the Jaguars’ inception in 1995, they and the Bears have been strikingly — alarmingly? — similar. It’s easy to laugh at the Jaguars this week as they flop around at 1-13 hoping to win as few games as possible and get the top pick in the draft, but the Bears haven’t been much better over the last 25 years.
In fact, the teams are more alike than those working in Halas Hall would prefer to believe.
That point truly crystalized when the Jaguars turned to Mike Glennon last month to complete a bizarre circle of terrible quarterbacks between the two teams. The Bears signed Glennon to a three-year, $45 million deal in 2017, then drafted Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall. Glennon played four games, then got cut at the end of the season.
It was such a laughable signing that defensive tackle Akiem Hicks used it as a punch line this year when asked about the Bears snubbing Colin Kaepernick.
“We signed Mike Glennon,” Hicks replied.
Glennon bounced to the Cardinals and Raiders the next two seasons before the Jaguars decided a player who had been cut or not re-signed by his last three teams could help them.
Sounds crazy, right?
Yes, it does. But it also sounds painfully familiar.
The Bears finally lost patience with Trubisky at the end of last season and went looking for an upgrade. Predictably, they focused their search on wayward Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles, who got benched in favor of sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew during the first season of his four-year, $88 million contract.
Maybe this guy that the Jaguars are desperate to rid themselves of could be our answer, the Bears thought.
At the end of a brutal sequence of each team thinking the other’s castoff could help, Foles and Glennon have both been benched and Minshew will likely start against Trubisky on Sunday (the Jaguars haven’t announced a starter yet). They are separated by exactly one point in passer rating for the season: Minshew 95.9, Trubisky 94.9.
Foles, by the way, will have collected a total of $54.5 million from these two organizations if he plays out his entire Bears contract.
It’s fitting that these teams go into their game so intertwined. They’ve practically been twins:
— Since the Jaguars’ inception in 1995, starting completely from scratch, they’ve gone to the playoffs seven times and the Bears have made it five times. Jacksonville has more postseason wins, however, by a margin of 7-3.
— Each team has had eight winning seasons.
— The Bears have finished last in their division 10 times; the Jaguars have done it eight. Each has four last-place finishes in the last seven seasons.
— The Bears have started 11 quarterbacks in the last 10 seasons, while Glennon was No. 9 for the Jaguars.
— Wide receiver Allen Robinson put up 1,000-yard seasons for both teams despite playing with Blake Bortles, Trubisky and Foles. Robinson said one of the lessons he learned in Jacksonville was how to “find consistency within myself and keep myself playing at a high level and also try to help the others around me bring up the level of play,” which also applies to his time with the Bears.
— Neither team has understood how to assemble a functional offense over the last 25 seasons. The Jaguars are 26th in scoring at 20.1 points per game, and the Bears are 29th at 20. Both are in the bottom seven over the last decade as well.
At least, for the Bears’ sake, their paths have diverged this season.
At 1-13, the Jaguars’ only concern is continuing to lose so they can stay “ahead” of the Jets for the No. 1 pick in the draft. With remaining games against the highly incentivized Bears and Colts, they’re likely to be the 11th team to go 1-15.
The Bears, conversely, are favored to make the playoffs if they win their final games against the Jaguars and Packers, though they’d still need the Cardinals to lose at least once.

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