The King of Prognostication returns after his triumphant .713 winning percentage a season ago against the spread. Knowing IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll never do that again, I should just pull a CostanzaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦raise up my hands and exit the room.
I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Today I prove how little I know about the NFL. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had the Colts and Panthers in the Super Bowl for the last three years. As our dignified leader puts it, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fool me twiceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get fooled again.Ã¢â‚¬? DONÃ¢â‚¬â„¢T BOTHER PLAYING THE GAMES! I KNOW HOW ITÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S COMING OUT!
The Bears are going 5-1 in division, 6-2 against the AFC East/NFC West and splitting the remaining two with Tampa and the Giants. That puts them at 12-4 and gives them a week off in the playoffs. That being said, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll probably go 8-8 and lose to the Packers twice.
Chicago Bears 12-4 (Bear down)
Detroit Lions 8-8 (Will be better in the second half)
Minnesota Vikings 7-9 (When did Culpepper to Moss become Johnson to Williamson?)
Green Bay Packers 1-15 (These asshole canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose enough for me)
Dallas Cowboys 10-6 (Tony Romo! Tony Romo!)
New York Giants 9-7 (Does Lavar Arrington mean anything to anyone anymore?)
Washington Redskins 9-7 (I miss Greg BlacheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s press conferences)
Philadelphia Eagles 7-9 (They open the season with ten winnable games, however)
Carolina Panthers 11-5 (A damn good team but inconsistent during the regular season)
Tampa Bay Bucs 10-6 (The least threatening double digit win team in the game)
Atlanta Falcons 7-9 (How many years does Vick get to learn the system?)
New Orleans Saints 6-10 (Watched that Spike Lee doc on Katrina. They canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win enough for me.)
Seattle Seahawks 12-4 (Best team in football outside of Chicago)
Arizona Cardinals 9-7 (Improvement abound when Leinart takes over)
St. Louis Rams 7-9 (The Rams have become boring, havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they?)
San Francisco 49ers 4-12 (Poop. Pure poop.)
Bye Weeks: Seattle, Chicago
Wild-Card Round: Dallas over Tampa Bay, Carolina over New York
Divisional Round: Seattle over Dallas, Chicago over Carolina
Championship Game: Seattle over Chicago
Championship Game: Chicago over Seattle
Baltimore Ravens 11-5 (I get a cowboys riding into the sunset vibe from this team)
Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6 (Ã¢â‚¬Å“FastÃ¢â‚¬? Willie Parker is the lamest nickname ever)
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7 (They have a brutal schedule)
Cleveland Browns 5-11 (They have Lennie Friedman. That got them a bonus win)
New England Patriots 11-5 (I think Bill Belly leaves U2Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s With or Without You on Deion BranchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voicemail every day)
Miami Dolphins 10-6 (Not buying the Super Bowl hypeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦yet)
Buffalo Bills 7-9 (Dick Jauron = Losing Record)
New York Jets 5-11 (Mangina)
Indianapolis Colts 12-4 (Same old thing)
Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7 (These are the silliest fans in football. You have to see a game there. There was a family that chanted MOVE THE CHAINS after every first down and were wrapped, as a group, in giant plastic chains)
Houston Texans 7-9 (I think Gary Kubiak is going to be a great head coach)
Tennessee Titans 4-12 (Poor, poor Jeff Fisher. He needs to get the fuck out of there)
Denver Broncos 12-4 (Javon Walker - 79 catches, 1,098 yards, 10 touchdowns)
Kansas City Chiefs 9-7 (Ty Law? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all you added?)
San Diego Chargers 8-8 (But ESPN will call them the best 8-8 team of all time)
Oakland Raiders 0-16 (You find me a team they can beat)
Bye Weeks: Indianapolis, Denver
Wild-Card Round: New England over Pittsburgh, Baltimore over Miami
Divisional Round: Baltimore over Indianapolis, Denver over New England
Championship Game: Baltimore over Denver
Super Bowl: Chicago Bears 5, Baltimore Ravens 2
There it is. Let me have it.
This isn't the time for Jerry Angelo to be fucking around. This isn't the time for the Bears to continue with their "we like what we've got" attitude which resulted in drafting "depth" and continued confidence in an unproven quarterback who hasn't had a great football performance since he was slapping his weiner in Gainesville co-eds.
Deion Branch is a winner and a damn good football player. He is a Super Bowl MVP. The best player in the NFL thinks he was the essential part of the Pats dynasty.
1. You call Scott Pioli and you offer them a first round pick in 2007. This is going to be a late pick that you'd just blow on some Division I-AA kick returner anyway.
2. You call Jason Chayut and you work out an extension for Deion Branch. This is Adewale Ogunleye all over again. You were brilliant in that deal and it's time for you to rock out hard on this as well.
I'm not gonna list all the positives that would come from making this deal. This is a single player that can make an entire team better. Not marginally better. Really goddamn fucking a lot better.
This isn't the time for Jerry Angelo to be fucking around.
Had a chance to look at the game this morning after spending last evening swimming in a bristling pool of alcohol and ladies at the Jersey Shore. Some things are just more important than the National Football League.
THE CHICAGO BEARS SHOULD GIVE NEW ENGLAND A FIRST ROUND DRAFT CHOICE FOR DEION BRANCH RIGHT NOW. Why? Because (a) we're shitty first round drafters. (b) he'd thrive oppositie Muhammad. (c) our first round pick this year will most likely be in the last ten and we'll inevitably need a receiver. (d) because the guy is a fucking Super Bowl MVP.
As for the game...
1. I wouldn't worry about the offensive line. They were one of the best units in the NFL a year ago and they just looked like they were half-assing it last night.
2. Alex Brown's injury could become a concern. He's rumored to be doubtful for the opening against those 53 kid touchers that play ball in Wisconsin.
3. Grossman looked fine. He's not spectacular. He's not bad. Until he costs them football games, we won't be seeing Griese...who plays smoother than Don Cheadle at a disco.
4. Defense isn't in full form yet but they still have two weeks. My rule for the preseason is you don't judge proven commodities on their performance (for Chicago, it'd be the running game and the defense). You DO judge the passing and kicking games.
5. On that note, why aren't we all talking about Robbie "Don't call me Elliot" Gould? My nigga looks confident and he's just not close to missing. Kudos to Jerry Angelo on finding this kid.
6. So...who is our starting running back?
7. We'll know there's a problem with chemistry in the Bears locker room when players start leaking stories to us.
8. I asked a friend who works for Deion Branch's agent what the situation was and he said he couldn't talk about it. I then asked, as a good journalist does, if that was a no comment. He didn't respond. And I realized that saying no comment IS a comment and saying nothing is, in fact, no comment.
9. The Bears need to open 3-0 and stake claim to the division from the very beginning. Put your foot on their necks, boys, and don't take it off unless the last wimpers of air have percolated from the mouths of the NFC North.
10. Charles Tillman sucks.
I don't even wanna talk about the game that just occured. . . Depressing. Maybe I'll feel better when i watch the game.
Two quick notes:
Noah is still asking for your fantasy advice so see the post directly below.
Thanks to Rob for the information that NFL Network has changed the airing of the Bears/Cardinals game to Friday night at 11:00 ET. So you'll be able to see the game only a couple hours after its actually on...which is cool.
But why watch the game at all? I'll give you a bunch of reasons:
I DON'T THINK THE REX GROSSMAN THING IS OVER YET
Lovie Smith did a brilliant job dissolving any quarterback bombs but he won't be able to avoid an aerial assault from Chicago fans and media if Grossman takes a step back Friday night. They don't NEED to see Griese play well since he's done it in the NFL. A clunker from Sexy Rexy and the elephant in the corner will actually get larger.
THOMAS JONES IS GOING TO RUN THE SHIT OUT OF THE BALL
Don't think for a second that OKreu won't have that line blowing the Cards off the ball and making holes for TJ. The entire team wants him to win the job and a nice performance Friday night will assure that.
THE BEST SET OF RECEIVERS IN THE GAME
Without Vasher playing, it'll be interesting to see how Ricky Manning and Captain Falldown handle these two brilliant receivers. I've been waiting all camp for Tillman to lose his job to Manning...might it happen this week?
A SUSTAINED OFFENSIVE ATTACK WOULD BE NICE, WOULDN'T IT?
I'd like to see a couple drives...down the field...ending in points. This is the thing the Bears have been missing over the last decade. Get first downs, run the ball consistently, challenge defenses deep.
THE NOT-SO-BEST RECEIVERS IN THE GAME
Lovie is going with Moose and Bernie B at the starting wides. With all the starters in the game, how will the second spot fare? Will Rash Davis look solid in the slot? Is Bradley really back? Does Justin Gage have a role?
Mike Brown won't be out there so it is time for Manning to fingerbang every Cardinal who approaches.
It was the main focus of practice this week. Let's see them grab some cloth and tear some fucking people apart.
B E A R D O W N
We all know the football season is coming and with it comes the monster that is fantasy football. I pretty seriously considered retiring this year to full-time Bears fandom, but then I realized that would mean I couldn't go to the draft and that's really the best part.
Anyway, I'm taking the same approach as last year and doing as little research as possible.
So, I figured I'd tap into all of you . . .
Who should I draft for my fantasy football team?
Give me sleepers, obvious, ordered, do not drafts or whatever else you want. One note: I will not be drafting any Packers, so you can leave them out.
Lovie has acknowledged that TJ will start against the Cardinals Friday night. This is a great development and I hope he has 7 or 8 carries for 50 yards and a score.
Then Cedric will have a reason to walk off the sideline.
Thomas Jones is back running with the first team offense.
Cedric Benson walked off the sideline before the end of the Chargers game Friday night and reportedly wasn't at the team's post-game meeting.
And now begins the battle we all paid to see.
So I ask you now: who will be the starting tailback come Green Bay on September 10th?
The drama is over.
You wanted a quarterback battle? No. Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback and will be unless his healthy gives or his regular season performance cost the Bears victories. Until then Brian Griese will remain the best backup quarterback in the National Football League.
You wanted a running back battle? Thomas Jones missed all of training camp. Cedric Benson missed the last half. Adrian Peterson got all of the carries. It looks like TJ will be the only of the former two to play a preseason down. We've got a stable full of wild horses, kids, get ready to watch them all run.
You wanted a second wide receiver battle? Too fucking bad. This summer has been about the emergence of the Rash Davis as both return man and slot producer. Bernie B Bad and Mark "Don't call me Bill" Bradley failed to mount much of an attack and all evidence points to a shared #2 role come Green Bay in under a month.
But hey...we can sure as hell play defense. Will it matter if we can't score points?
Brad Biggs in the SunTimes wrote this today:
Maybe it was the swashbuckling sense he has always had that led him to force a pass to Gabe Reid into double coverage. But that same gunslinging approach was the difference in him deciding against a modest first-down pass to Desmond Clark earlier in the drive and firing a ball in a tighter spot downfield for a 24-yard gain to Rashied Davis.
Before my now infamous Swashbuckle article, I had never seen the term used in a sports article. Is this a coincidence? I'm not sure. But for the time being I'm watching you, Brad Biggs.
We've got a very good defense and a shaky quarterback.
What else is new?
Enough of the preseason.
At what point does the sports fan abandon his heart and root with his mind?
I like Rex Grossman but only because Rex Grossman wears #8 for the Chicago Bears. Sure I like his swashbuckle but if he had that swashbuckle in Green Bay or Kansas City - I'd think he was a fucking asshole.
I haven't been perfectly honest about my relationship with Brian Griese. It's time to come clean. You see, when I was a freshman in college, Brian Griese came into the NFL and I was a big fan. A big fucking fan. I'd only use the Denver Broncos in vieo games so I could throw with #14. I told my brother to draft him on our fantasy team and he declined: Griese went on to have a Pro Bowl season (his only one) and sort of became my adopted football player.
Here's a couple points that beg to be made:
Griese has a career completion percentage of 63.1% and a career passer rating of 84.8. Those numbers at the helm of the Chicago Bears the last five years would have made this team 3-5 wins better each season.
Symmetry. Who was the last vagabond player to slip into obscurity before being rescued by Jon Gruden's offensive scheme? He wears #20.
Our ultra-maligned tight end Desmond Clark's finest year came in 2001 when BG was his quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer - the non-Patriots quarterbacks to win Super Bowls with brilliant defenses. What do they have in common? Minimum risk, maximum efficiency players. Grossman may be a gunslinger but history is showing that unless you're a Hall of Fame gunslinger (Favre, Elway) it won't win you the big one.
I've said it before: I'm rooting for Grossman to perform at a high level but part of me wants feast or famine Friday night. Don't tease us Rex because the guy behind you can perform. He can play. And I think he can lead this team to the NFC Championship Game. Feast of famine, Rex. Don't tease us.
Either 6-20 and two picks.
Or 11-15, 235 yards and a score.
Everything in the middle is confusing. Everything in the middle leaves a question mark at the end of the sentence. I'm tired of waiting for a miracle man to lead the huddle. I'm tired of putting all my money on a horse I ain't seen run. I'm ready to back the favorite and the win the fucking race.
You see, Rex Grossman has been a religious savior for a team that has no faith. Compared to Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Shane Matthews, Kyle Orton...who wouldn't expect the first rounder to step in and change the world? But he hasn't changed the world. There's still time.
But not much. According to my calculations there's...56 hours.
And then the dream of 8 becomes the reality of 14. I love Brian Griese, you see? Not just because he wears #14 for the Chicago Bears.
I just found out that Friday night's Bears/Chargers game is the CBS national game.
Rex Grossman playing for life!
It comes like a shark in the murky depths off Amity Island. A girl goes for a swim and floats in with the tide, except this time missing her legs.
It's a quarterback battle and make no mistake about it...there is one in Bearsland right now. They can say whatever they want about Rex Grossman being the guy. They can say Brian Griese understands his role. You can talk and talk about second team defenses and backup center. Griese performed. Grossman didn't. And for the team more desperate for quarterbacking stablity than any other in the game today...that's all that matters.
The pressure has moved to Grossman now. I thought this training camp would be about staying healthy and number two receivers. That's over now and Friday night ended it. Grossman needs to play the entire first quarter this week and in the two weeks that follow and if he doesn't perform dramatically better than he did Friday night, this team MUST be given to Brian Griese on opening day against the Packers.
Why? Becuase Griese has shown he can play. He's proven he can win. He's not Joe Montana or John Elway but he won't be asked to be. Mistakes are something this team can not have from the quarterback position. The defense and running game are too good. We certainly can't have Jim Miller-esque fumbles and missed open receivers all over the place. Consistency and durability are all I ask for and Grossman has proven neither.
This isn't met to be an indictment of Grossman's potential. I think he can be the future of this team. But in the anyone-can-win-right-now landscape of the National Football League, it'd be foolish to squander the league's top defense on an experiment. The Bears have to take advantage of a weak division and the league's easiest schedule.
Rex still has time. He's got this preseason to prove he is the man for the job. I hope he proves it. But if he doesn't, Griese is the word and Rex will have to wait another year.
That goes for me too.
There wasn't much to like and/or love on Friday night in San Francisco. I'm not going to go crazy for Brian Griese and Rash Davis against a second team defense. Remember how well Kyle Orton played last preseason?
I'm not going crazy about Rex fumbling snaps with a backup center playing.
I'm not going crazy about ineffectiveness of a running game without a couple a starting linemen and a third-string back in the game.
I'm not going crazy about a defense that didn't seem revved up to play their first preseason game.
A couple of things did happen last night that you have to start considering:
1. Grossman has to play better
If he doesn't, we'll see him benched during the regular season.
2. Charles Tillman may get beaten out by Ricky Manning Jr.
Tillman is going to get picked on this season if last night's first two drives were any indication.
3. No one is going to win the second receiver job
It's going to be a platoon over there, no doubt about it.
4. I need the regular season to start
Defense vulnerable to the screen pass?
Offense unable to produce yards?
Offense putting defense in short fields?
Punt after punt after punt...
Welcome to Chicago Bears football, baby. We're getting the whole season on a warm August night.
Bears open the preseason Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
First, a note. I'm not buying all these hamstring pulls right now. Woody Paige told a funny story on Cold Pizza (the first time that's ever been written) about how back when he was covering the Denver Broncos, Tom Jackson used to walk up to him and say, "it's hot...I think I'll get me a hammy today." Sure enough, ten minutes later he'd be off the field. Players know these first couple preseason games are meaningless and no one wants to risk their livelihood in August. So Bears fans...don't worry about the injuries quite yet.
But there are a couple things to take a look at Friday night for those of you lucky enough to see the game. It won't be on NFL Network at all so we who live not-in-Illinois will have to imagine. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IT'D BE GREAT TO SEE REPORTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION FROM THE GUYS WHO ACTUALLY GET TO SEE THE GAME.
1. Mark Bradley. Chemistry with Rex? Favoring a leg?
2. The Fullback Battle. It looks like BJ is not going to be playing this year so the competition between McKie and J.D. is on. If one of those guys is spelunking holes for fourth string running backs, they can make a valid case to start against the Packers.
3. Danieal Manning v. Chris Harris. Hard to judge safeties against the Niners.
4. Rex and Brian. Get em in. Get em out. Put in Orton for the last three quarters.
5. Hester and the return game. Preseason is a great time to develop your return game and hopefully Hester is the real deal.
What am I forgetting?
That something bad is going to happen real soon?
I don't like it.
Cedric Benson hurt his shoulder when he was hit yesterday during the evening practice by Mike Brown and Brian Urlacher. First off, that SHOULD hurt. Secondly, the x-rays were negative. But it is reported that he still could be out for some time, which makes our backfield fairly thin at the moment. (That would make Adrian Peterson the starter with P.J Pope and Andre Hall as our backups. . . )
The more intriguing factor here is the argument about whether da Bears defense is hitting him harder on purpose. There has been talk that throughout training camp that Benson has been getting hit harder than anyone else on the offense. Speculation is either that the D is just breaking him in or that this is their way of supporting Thomas Jones.
Now, if the defense is doing this to support T.J, while I dont fully agree with it because of the injury possibilities, I admit i kind of like it. For the past couple years, the bears defense has been money. But it could never be fully appreciated because the opposing teams offense would be on the field so damn much that eventually the Bears D would wear down. That is until last year. And who carried the offense last year? T.J. (plus the O-line) So why wouldn't the defense wanna show some love for the man who kept them off the field and allowed them to catch their breath?
Other injuries to watch:
- Berrian went down with a strained his right hip flexor.
- Both Currie and Metcalf had arthroscopic knee surgery (out indefinitely)
- T.J. still nursing the hammy
A look around the National Footbal League's issues of importance:
1. If the New York Jets believe KC is the quarterback of the future (and I fully believe they should move that way) then I don't see the logic in not starting him this season. Their running back is two years past being capable. One of their starting receivers is not allowed to participate at camp because he's shown up fat (Justin McCareins). Their offensive line is a year away from being good but they'll struggle mightily this year. How many wins can Chad Pennington get you? Maybe five? Patrick Ramsey? Maybe five? KC? Three or four? If he's the future, play him now...let him learn over a sixteen game season...maybe you'll finally stabilize a position that hasn't been sturdy in about thirty years and enter the 2007 season with a quarterback and leader.
2. Brett Favre called this "the most talented" Green Bay Packers team he's had during his tenure. Brett has played with Sterling Sharpe (in his prime) and Reggie White during the Super Bowl season. It appears Brett's find has gone the way of his quarterbacking: shitville.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble. Offensively, they'll be just fine if Carson Palmer can get on the field. If he can't, they are in even more trouble. Defensively, they were 28th in the league in Total Defense last year. They're not better this season and they'll need to match their ridiculous 44 turnovers from a season ago to go back to the playoffs. Now they've lost their middle linebacker and rookie sensation for the first four game of the year which would be less of a big deal if they didn't have Kansas City, Pittsburgh and New England over those first four. I can see this team starting 1-3 (beating Cleveland) and finding themselves in third place behind the Last Chance Cafe Ravens (with Steve McNair) and the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
4. Tom Brady didn't show up for the first three days of camp and if I hear another word about a tired arm, I'll stab someone in the eyes. Tom Brady didn't come to camp BECAUSE HE'S UNHAPPY WITH THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. On May 9th, 2005 Peter King wrote this: "Which means the Patriots won't ever be able to say that in Brady's prime he took up too much salary space for the team to pay Richard Seymour and Deion Branch." He wrote that because Brady took money significantly below his value for the Patriots to continue winning and their attitude toward not paying Branch is a shot in Brady's face as well. They won't win without Branch and Brady knows that. This is a political move but the game's finest player and I gained a lot of respect for Tommy B over those three days.
5. You know who we're not hearing about? The Seattle Seahawks. You know why? Because they don't have any problems. They don't have any contraversies. They just have the best roster in the NFC and are quietly waiting to win their 12 or 13 games and waltz into the NFC Championship Game. There are no locks in this league but I love when teams are never talked about. It means they're ready for THAT step.
Let's start with a reminder, kids. Ten days. That's it. Ten days till the first preseason game on the 11th of August. I need a cold shower to calm down. But let's see what we're looking at right now:
Thomas Jones has yet to hit the practice field and I think this is the place we've been headed for quite awhile. Thomas was brought here two off-seasons ago to be Terry Shea's Priest Holmes and in that miserable season was one of the Bears' only positives. Change of schemes sometimes require change of players and Ronny Turner and Lovie didn't think TJ was going to be a 25 carry a game horse. They turned out to be wrong but have, in their incorrectness, left the Chicago Bears with the deepest backfield in the NFC.
TJ is not going to be the starting tailback against Green Bay but he certainly is going to see the field. Let's all be honest here...TJ is not Walter Payton. He's not Gale Sayers. He's not even Neal Anderson, is he? He was a diamond in a very rough rough. He's a very solid performer and it'd be nice to have him happily on the football field this season but, at 2.5 million this year, it would be utterly foolish not to keep him around. He's cheap and effective. Meanwhile we hope CB will pay on his promise and SHINE.
WITHOUT QUESTION the story of camp to this point is becoming Danieal Manning. The Suntimes and Trib both have columns hinting that he's a sure thing to take over the starting safety job from Chris Harris. If that happens and he's as good as we're hearing, look at the secondary depth this team has:
Cornerback: Vasher, Tillman, Manning Jr, Wesley
Safety: Brown, Manning (in coverage), Harris (against run), Johnson
If the pass rush is there, this is going to be the best defense in football. Easily.
HOW MUCH DO YOU PLAY Rex on the 11th and throughout the preseason? Can you be thinking injury? Can you risk the chance? Does Griese allow for more security? I don't have answers to these questions yet but I think the battle for the second receiver slot truly complicates the matter. Both Berrian and Bradley deserve a couple good tosses in the first quarters of these games to truly earn the gig. Ah, we shall see.