I rarely just use this space to post a link but you should all read Mike Downey's column in today's Tribune. It gets to a lot of what Meggles was talking about in the comments. There is no more Bears offense and Bears defense. There is only the 2006 Chicago Bears.
In today's NFL, so few teams seem to be comprised of a group of players who have each other's back. It looks like we got one here, kids. This is a TEAM. I'll say it again. This is a TEAM. The Cowboys would have crumbled already. Keyshawn Johnson would have thrown Jake Delhomme under the bus (and probably has) weeks ago. Look at the Giants! When's the last time our defense even respected the signal caller, never mind defended him in the press? This defense believes in its quarterback and does everything it can to get the ball back in his hands knowing what he's capable of doing with it.
This team won't crumble. This team will fight together. And that's why we're going to win this conference.
I'm going to be looking for improvement or development in the following areas - starting Sunday against the Vikings - if the Bears are to make a legitimate Super Bowl run.
1. THE RONS
The biggest problem that seems to have emerged from the opening season blowouts is that both coordinators have rested on the laurels of their systems. The deep ball has stopped being effective and the defensive line has stopped getting to the quarterback. It's time for The Rons to experiment with a now solid class of receivers and some interesting blitz packages.
2. NATHAN VASHER IN ISOLATION
Vasher's ballhawking of 2005 seems as real today as the chupacabra. Teams have learned to throw away from Peanut Tillman (My Favorite Bear and currently having a Pro Bowl season) and go directly at Vash. Vash is looking at matchups with Ms. Terry Glenn and Deion Branch in the postseason.
3. REX GROSSMAN'S DECISION MAKING
Look at his three worst throws of the season: Antoine Winfield, Jason Taylor, Every Throw in the Arizona game. Those are not the problems of Bears' quarterbacks past (namely they just sucked). Those are the problems of a good quarterback growing up. Let's see the next five games mirror the first five: smart decisions and big plays.
4. PROTECT THE PERIMETER
One of the reasons Des Clark has not been as involved in the offense is he's had to stay on the line to protect on passing downs. Both tackles have been shaky in the passing game and they'll have some nice tests the next two weeks. Giving Grossman time is the difference between a rushed throw off his back foot and a stepped through rocket to Muhsin for 13 and a first down. The better John and Freddy play, the more risks Ronny T can take by releasing Des over the middle and opening up the field.
The next five weeks are about winning, of course, but they're really about getting better. These guys can line up bicep-to-bicep with any team in the conference and on Soldier Field...in front of people like us...they can beat anybody you send at them. The next five weeks are when we find out of if they're ready to be the class of the conference and quite possibly the entire league. In the next five weeks we'll know if they're ready to put a city on their back and claim their place among its windy heroes. In the next five weeks they'll prepare to stand among kings.
And I'll buy the t-shirt.
There's been debate on this site, started by myself Sunday night and furthered by the District and what's followed. I'm weighing in on the Rex Grossman Question officially. Jay Mariotti had his say in SunTimes - all but calling for Brian Griese. David Haugh in the Trib calls this situation a concern, not a contraversy.
Rex Grossman has started barely more games than I have in the NFL. You know the NFL. The world of over analysis...the saturated talking head universe where Sean Salisbury can go from terrible player to football expert and Shannon Sharpe can write the Bears are a ferocious defense and wait only six days to say they are an overrated defense and can't hold their own with the Dallas Cowboys.
Truth is, we don't know what Rex Grossman is yet because we've only seen him in limited action. The world has canonized Saint Tony Romo after five games. Five games? Remember Rex Grossman after five games? The NFC Offensive Player of the Month, torching every team in sight. He's had games where he's been a decision making disaster - Miami and Arizona. Games where he's thrown the ball poorly - first half Giants, New England. The rest? Pretty damn good for an Indiana kid just finishing his first full season.
So enough negativity on this site. I know some Bears fans thrive off pessimism and people like Mariotti feed on that. It's not happening here. I'm going to sit on my bar stool Sunday and hope like hell Rex throws the ball all over Soldier Field and sends the Vikings home saying, "We'll get em next year."
But they won't. Because next year he'll be a year older. A year wiser. And prepared to defend the Chicago Bears first championship in 21 years.
I'm sticking by Rex Grossman this year through the mistakes. I'm laying my chips on Ron to get this thing done. For now, I'm concentrated on the one thing that matters as of this very second...
Killing Brad Johnson.
I know it sounds harsh but I consider anything except his murder in Soldier Field this Sunday to be a complete disappointment. I want my good friend David Haugh's headline in the Chicago Tribune on Monday morning to be A Very Brad Day for the Vikings.
To which, of course, Mariotti will write:
Johnson's Death Doesn't Cover Up Grossman's Flaws.
First, my apologies for stepping on the District's column. It's below and it's good so give it a read. But I have three quick thoughts before I get to the point.
1. The Bears created five turnovers yesterday the old-fashioned way. They hit people. And they hit people all day. Yes Brian looked bad once but Tom Brady made great plays all day. That's why he's Tom Brady. The fumble they forced from Corey Dillon is another example that this is the best defensive unit in the game.
2. The Bears ran for over 150 yards. Again. And that's one of the best rushing defenses in football on the other side of the ball. The running game is back, baby.
3. I keep hearing the Bears are amazing because they generate pressure from their front four. Do they still do that?
All in all, let's keep things in perspective. Rex Grossman is not Tom Brady but he is their starting quarterback. Yesterday was not about bad decision making. It was about bad throws. He's got five weeks to develop and eliminate them. Five weeks to minimize mistakes and take fewer silly chances down the field. Five weeks to guarantee the Chicago Bears don't play a road game until Miami in February. He needs help from the sideline and upstairs. He'll get it. And if he doesn't...
At least he's not Eli Manning.
The multitudes who predicted Rex would lose his mechanics, miss his targets, and turn the ball over were maddeningly right. I was going to explore the different possibilities and counterarguments for why this happens, but I lost steam. I mean, does it really matter why? This season tells us that if Rex turns it over twice, it's going to be difficult to win. If it's more than that, it's going to take a rare miracle. Plain and simple.
I've made my peace with that. If that's the variable, then fine. He's hit the three turnover mark only three times this season, and the defense managed to bail him out on one of those. So at 9-2, I'm not calling for anyone's head. I'm just saying don't turn the ball over three times. I don't think that's too much to ask.
Rex still has more than a quarter of the season to ride this roller coaster. In another situation that could be good or bad, but with that defense playing for him against that schedule, I'm inclined toward optimism. The "fourth quarter" appears to be the result of some beyond-the-grave machinations by Halas himself. With that outlook, it's tough for me to get too pissed off by tonight's loss. (Besides, just a few weeks ago, who would have thought Peanut would be getting back-to-back game balls?)
No, I think it's much more important for us to gather together and remember that this is a special time of year. It's the time when we put aside our differences and focus on beating the absolute shit out of Minnesota. Get in touch with your inner sadist. So often during the year we tend to just rush through our lives, going through the motions, without really, truly sowing hate where it is so desperately needed. Well, during Vikings week, I make a little extra effort. I put down the newspaper and pick up The 120 Days of Sodom. I stop swerving to avoid animals in the road. I kick children when their parents aren't looking. I send tourists to the rough part of town. I hiss at old ladies and punch the Salvation Army bell ringer harder than usual. You probably have your own traditions. In any event, let's put the Pats behind us. The Week of Hate is here, and I'm in the festive spirit of the season.
Sigh. I don't know if it's the playcalling. I don't know if it's his decision making. But he's a disaster. I'm sure the District will have more on this.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present the first winner of DaBearsBlog Guest Column Sweepstakes.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Patriots QB Tom Brady, and I decided to take advantage of my opportunity to submit a guest column by asking him a few questions on behalf of the site before the Bears take on the sweatshirt and co. We conducted the interview in his home in New England. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what went down:
DBB- Thanks for meeting with me Tom.
TB- Oh, the honor is all mine, believe me. I read Da Bears Blog all the time.
DBB- No shit?
TB- Yeah...itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just about the only way to pass the time between visits from Bill.
DBB- You mean Bill Bellichick, your coach?
TB- Oh, yeah, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ok too. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m talking about my other friend Bill. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll call him Bill Timmons. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want anyone to know about our... friendship.
DBB- Ok, fair enough. But you really canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have much time for friends when you have a girlfriend like Bridget Moynahan can you? I mean, I would cover that in lamp oil and... well, you know what I mean.
TB- Oh. Yeah. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s... great. Real hot right? SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a hot lady. I totally donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t not bone her. I swear.
DBB- So where does this Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bill TimmonsÃ¢â‚¬? fit into the picture if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re so busy with Bridget?
TB- HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more of a life coach than anything. He writes me columns...not columns, letters. And he tells me how great I am all the time.
DBB- So moving on to football, how do you like your chances against Chicago this week?
TB- Oh, you know, I think we have a pretty good shot. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always nice to be at home, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcause I can get back to open-mouthed kisses with Bill much more quickly.
DBB- IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure what you mean.
TB- I was just saying, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re at home and I think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really rolling after that Green Bay game.
DBB- I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I heard, but letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keep going. Looks like your offense is getting a nice little break with Ricky Manning Jr. being suspended for the game. Do you think this will help you at all?
TB- I think what that guy did to the guy with the laptop was horrible. People who use laptops, writers especially, shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to fear for their lives when they have to meet a deadline. What if he was a writer for a nationally adored website like ESPNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Page 2? When I heard about that happening I had to call up Steve Belichick for some weed just so I could sleep through the night.
TB- Hey, can we finish this some other time? My ginger snaps should be just about ready, and Bill doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like them crispy.
It is one of those games in the NFL. Sunday your Chicago Bears will be in Foxboro playing the team of the generation and completing the third leg of the East Coast Triple Crown. The Meadowlands Massacre is done and a win Sunday would not only establish your Bears as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the NFC but also cement them as a bona fide contender to win the whole damn thing. We don't talk about the Super Bowl much on this site...we're not fools...but a win Sunday would start the conversation.
And I have an idea. Turn Rex Grossman loose. Drop him back and let it fly. The whole football world expects more dink and dunk from Ronny and Rex. They expect the Bears to try and win on the other side of the ball. I say put this one on 8's shoulders. The Pats don't have a single top tier defensive back and your Bears now have a receiving corps with two deep threats.
What's the worst that can happen? We'll learn about our quarterback. Make no mistake about it, Rex Grossman will need to make some big time throws in the postseason for this club to have a shot. If he can handle the Bellichick deception and make plays Sunday, we'll know he's capable of doing the same thing in January against a Bill Parcells or John Fox squad. Ron Turner can be Ron Turner and not pretend to be John Shoop.
Turn him loose and let it fly. First play. Four wide. Bears...37. Pats...16.
Guess the score, win next Saturday's column.
Ricky Manning Jr. is apparently getting suspended after all. David Haugh breaks the story in today's Trib. Good call taking the suspension in a non-conference game.
Rex Grossman is the winningest quarterback in the NFL with a full season under his belt.
I don't know why anyone bothers writing these weekly wrap-up columns. There's only that matters and it's TMQ.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The big interception by Brian Urlacher really got us out of a bind, but we have some playmakers that we expect to make those types of plays,Ã¢â‚¬? Smith said. How much do you love that quote?
I do wanna thank everyone who has come to the site in the last year. We seem to keep getting bigger and hopefully this is becoming what it was intended to be: a place for Bears fans from all over the world to cheer, get pissed off, vent, make insinutations about Jerry Angelo's sexuality, talk about Ogunleye's man hose...etc. I'll be back on Friday with the picks (10-6 last week) and your next chance to win a guest column (seriously Megan, win the damn thing).
Have a happy holiday all.
"At halftime, 54 will impregnate 3 members of the crowd and a cotton candy vendor." Couple that line with guessing the correct score differential and you've got Pat writing a guest column on Saturday. (And Pat, they haven't had cotton candy at Giants Stadium since P.T. Barnum played there in 1874.) Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and the man-behind-the-site will give you heads up on what to do. We'll do this every Friday for the next six games and into the playoffs...I mean, we gotta get Pissed Off and Midway Monster a column at some point.
One note today. Lovie Smith laughed when he talked about Adewale Ogunleye leaving the field, smirking as he said "he took a shot." Does this mean he was hit in the dick? If so...fuck.
I did. I knew it. When we started this idea for a Blog Game Ball, I knew he'd win the first one. He had to.
I thought about it this morning on my bus ride passing Giants Stadium, home to the Meadowlands Massacre, and I realized I've never written about #54. But Sunday...for the second time this season...Brian Urlacher reminded me why I'm going to spend a lot of time thirty years from now telling stories about him. A regular middle linebacker intercepts the ball in the endzone. Brian runs it another thirty-five yards. A regular middle linebacker tackles you. Brian's hit on Leon Washington was greeted by a chorus of "Oohs" from the green clad swamp dwellers all around me. Brian Urlacher is not a regular middle linebacker. He's the best defensive player in the game today.
There were other great performances yesterday. Every time Mark Bradley catches the football, he seems to gain ten yards. The middle of the offensive line overpowered the Jets. Thomas Jones ran as well as he's run all season. But yesterday was about 54...again. My uncle, a casual football fan, said it best this morning:
"Urlacher is something else. It's like they combined Butkus and Singletary into a crazy German." My vote for the first Blog Game Ball is #54 Brian Urlacher.
Today was Bears football for Bears fans. Run the ball, play defense, win. For the first time this season, we can compare this team to the 2005 edition -- and in no way is that a bad thing. As Todd Johnson said after flying around the field all day making big tackles, "We knew after we got that field goal that if they didn't score, they couldn't win." Goddamn right.
The two horses combined for 172 yards on 33 carries for a 5.2 yard average. And that's with a long run on 19 yards. Feel free to use the term "smashmouth" without feeling self-conscious.
We said this road trip would be a success if the Bears went 2-1, and so they have. But these guys still have something to prove to themselves and to the rest of the league. The Bears may be the class of the NFC, but as of this writing, the AFC is 5-1 against the NFC this week, and I expect the AFC to win at least one of the two other interconference games. The Bears, meanwhile, are 2-1 against three AFC teams who are sitting at .500 or worse. Next week, like today, like every week, it will come down to making big plays and avoiding mistakes. Today, the Bears had an ideal dress rehearsal for the toughest game on the schedule.
Now for the miscellany. There is a small part of me that is scared shitless that Robbie Gould will pull a Gary Anderson and be perfect for the rest of the season and then miss the game winner in the NFC championship. But then I remember that he doesn't play for the fucking Vikings.
Tommie Harris is still in a funk after a white-hot start. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think New England's interior beef is of the gargantuan variety. Here's hoping Tommie can get back to his old form, right in Tom Brady's face. The Sun-Times has a good article about the situation.
The great TJ-or-Cedric debate will continue, although it proved to be mostly academic today. I have concluded that both guys run the ball well and that it's the line that has consistency issues.
Mark Bradley, baby. I can't say I hate to toot my own horn -- I love it -- so I will. I had a well-documented feeling that this guy was going to be a huge addition. Ideally, Bernard will be back on form next week and the Pats secondary will have its hands full.
If you want some entertaining reading, check out this excerpt from Ditka's book over at the Sun-Times. The book is called In Life, First You Kick Ass. As the kids say, that is so meta, because that is quite possibly the asskickinest book title ever.
Finally, John Cougar Mellencamp and Jessica Simpson have moved to the top of my hit list.
My picks have been so mediocre lately, it's unfair for me to dedicate an entire column to them. So we'll play a game. YOU guess the final score of Sunday's game, you win a guest column next Wednesday during the lead-up to the showdown at Foxboro.
Here are the rules:
1. Guess the score in the comments and breakdown the game.
2. The person who nails the EXACT score will win the column on our award-winning site.
3. If no one nails the score, I'll look at the scores and the breakdowns and choose the winner.
72-68-3 on the picks. Here's this week: Bears -6.5, Baltimore -4.5, St. Louis +6.5, Pittsburgh -3.5, Indianapolis -1.5, Green Bay +5.5, Oakland +9.5, Miami -3.5, Tennessee +12.5, San Francisco +6.5, Denver -2.5, Jacksonville -3.5, Houston -2.5, Washington +3.5, Detroit +2.5
Good luck. If you pick the Jets and they win, never come back here.
I know the New York Jets pretty well. Outside of our boys, they are the only team I can honestly say I like to see win. Mostly because my brother down in Florida is a psychopath (I blame Rick Mirer for both of us) and as big a Jets fan as there is. But also because Eric Mangini gives the funniest press conferences outside of Arizona.
SIT BERNARD BERRIAN
There's a looming prospect for the Chicago Bears offense: Bernard Berrian and Mark Bradley on the field at the same time. That's something you absolutely save for Foxboro and Bill Bellichick. Don't give him a look at what might very well be the fastest and most dynamic receiver set in the history of this team. Give Bernie the week.
RUN, RUN, RUN
The Jets want the Bears to drop Rex back and try to chuck it all over the field. They are not the most talented defense around but they have a serious play-making safety in Kerry Rhodes and a great pass rush system, which was dominant against New England last week. Run the ball, get first downs...take the pressure off Grossman.
DON'T KICK TO JUSTIN MILLER
Outside of Rhodes, Miller is the MVP of this team thus far; he's been the best kickoff return man in the game. The Jets offense - on their best day - won't score more than 14 points. Keeping the ball out of Miller's hands assures that this offense will have to go the length of the field to do it.
I know it sounds stupid but it's imperative this week. Chad Pennington has the arm of an eleven year-old girl. He's going to throw everything underneath and if the Bears linebackers and secondary tackle well, the Jets will have an impossible time getting first downs all game long. The Patriots didn't and every time you looked up, a Jet was leaning across the marker on a 3rd and 4.
The tailgate will be in section 14A of the parking lot, just adjacent to Gate D. We'll be right up front from about 8 AM in a white wagon. Plenty of Schlitz and the beast to go around. Stop by and see both myself and the Reverend.
Those of you who know me know I've been secretly coveting Jeff Fisher to become the head coach of the Bears for about a decade. I am resigned now to the fact that it's not going to happen. Now, Jerry Angelo, is the time to extend Lovie Smith as the head coach of these Chicago Bears until the end of the 2009 season.
By now...I mean today. Wednesday November 15th 2007. Because something happened at halftime in the Giants Stadium visitors' locker room Sunday night. It changed the course of the 2006 season and - at least in my mind - skyrocketed Lovie right to the top of the Coach of the Yeart conversation.
Something happened at halftime Sunday and the Bears responded with a thirty minute, 28-7 masterpiece that ranks right up there with the team's finest in the last twenty years. Everyone in that stadium knew as Moose plowed into the endzone at 8:29 left in the 3rd that the ballgame was over.
The Bears were Da Bears. Pay the coach.
DaBearsBlog continues to take shape. We now announce the creation of the BLOG GAME BALL, which will be awarded each week to the best performance in navy and orange on Sunday. The award will debut with this week's November 19th game on the road against the New York Jets and not be given retroactively to Charles "Peanut" Tillman. (We're not going to suck him dry just yet.)
This award is the brainchild of the always fun-to-read Midway Monster.
Here's how it will work. My day-after column will now become a nomination for one player and then we'll open it up. Whoever has the overwhelming fan support in the comments will win the prize and we'll start cataloguing the winners somewhere on the site. At the end of the season we'll make something stupid on behalf of the site and send it to our Player of the Year. That'd make me laugh.
I'd like to formally welcome the District Selectman to DaBearsBlog universe and invite him to be our post game guy for the rest of the season. His two columns are flat out awesome and they're fun to read and I'd like to see them every Sunday night until Lovie is hoisting the Halas Trophy in Miami come February.
Last night was not about Rex Grossman, playing the biggest game of his life on the biggest night of his life. Last night was not about Mark Bradley, playing Justin Gage FINALLY onto the practice squad. Last night was not about Mushin Muhammad, earning 12 of his 13 million. Last night was not about Alex Brown, dominating the second half and overwhelming the 137 year-old Bob Whitfield.
Last night was about Charles "Peanut" Tillman. Last night he became my new favorite Chicago Bear.
Why, you might ask. Why oh why would you say such things about a man you've killed so many times, using adjectives like "fucking stupid" and "goddamn fucking stupid"? Because Plaxico Burress dared the Bears to use man coverage. Because I sat in the stadium last night and watched the Bears do just that with one man. One man. And he wore #33. Because 60 minutes, 48 yards and an interception later...Charles Tillman made me proud. The way Mr. Clark feels proud of Sams when he turns things around in Lean on Me. Charles Tillman played the kind of defensive football game that has written the legacy of the Chicago Bears.
And next week and going forward...I'm in his corner. He's my guy. Don't fuck with him.
We almost didn't make it to halftime. I'm not talking about the Bears, I'm talking about you and me. We almost had a meltdown. We thought, "Son of a bitch, not again." But with third and 22, it was Ron Turner -- for once not us -- who said, "Run the damn ball."
This game wasn't so different from last week. In both games: Rex threw a first-half pick that led directly to a touchdown, the Bears regained the momentum with a late first-half TD (last week it was 14-10 at half, this week it was 13-10), a receiver fumbled on the first drive after getting the second half kick, and the defense gave up well over 100 yards to the other team's running back.
The crucial difference this week was the Bears' ability to ride out their opponent's early fire. TJ, Rex, Moose, and (ahem) Mark Bradley all had excellent days. The reason? The line figured the Giants out.
For 29 minutes and 12 seconds, the beef looked rancid. The last drive of the first half began auspiciously (getting Bradley involved for the first time this season). Then Rex threw high to Des, our left tackle false started, then our right tackle figured he'd try that, and a screen to TJ went nowhere. And we all cursed with resignation.
But something happened in the huddle with 48 seconds to go, and for the rest of the game, TJ had holes to run through, and Rex had as long as he needed to find open receivers. The Bears got the upper hand and it was a game again. Well, at least until the league's best return man (and possibly least interesting interviewee) choked the life out of the G-Men. While I sleep this evening, I'll be replaying Bears linebackers crushing Giants linemen and the kicker on the way to paydirt. And after thinking he was a badass for getting two tackles earlier, that kicker most surely had it coming to him.
That's my narrative, but it by no means covers all the highlights. Here they are in no particular order:
I can't complain about not seeing a lot of Benson, but I still want to see more of him against the Jets. That's my only quibble. Still, this week I'll be much more interested in hearing Jeremy Shockey's lamentation.
65-59-3 after a solid 9-5 week that could have been 10-4 if Oakland's offense were bad instead of the worst thing I've ever seen on a sports field.
First, CONGRATULATIONS TO RUTGERS FOOTBALL! THE KNIGHTS HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED! Greg Schiano, former Bears defensive backs coach, is the most impressive coach in sports right now.
CHICAGO BEARS +2.5 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
Why do I like the Bears this week?
1. I always like the Chicago Bears.
2. No Osi and Strahan means the Bears won't have to double team the Giant defensive ends. We've said Bradley and Rash would fill-in for Bernie. Look for Des Clark to have a big game.
3. You know something about Rex Grossman? He's never had back-to-back bad games as a pro.
4. I love the Bears defense Sunday night because I love a bunch of angry young guys rebounding off three Joey Harrington touchdown passes.
5. Yes there's five! PBurr deciding to call out the Bears secondary...not wise. Look for Ricky Manning to nerd the shit out of him and In Todd We Trust to take a couple free shots.
6. Bears 23, Giants 10
CLEVELAND +7.5 OVER ATLANTA
SAN DIEGO -1.5 OVER CINCINNATI
DETROIT -5.5 OVER SAN FRANCISCO
INDIANAPOLIS -12.5 OVER BUFFALO
HOUSTON +10.5 OVER JACKSONVILLE
KANSAS CITY -1.5 OVER MIAMI
MINNESOTA -5.5 OVER GREEN BAY
NEW ENGLAND -10.5 OVER NEW YORK JETS
WASHINGTON +6.5 OVER PHILADELPHIA
PITTSBURGH -3.5 OVER NEW ORLEANS
BALTIMORE -7.5 OVER TENNESSEE
DENVER -9.5 OVER OAKLAND
DALLAS -6.5 OVER ARIZONA
ST. LOUIS +3.5 OVER SEATTLE
TAMPA BAY +9.5 OVER CAROLINA
"I don't think they're the best corners I've played against or we've played against this year. By far, no," Burress told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Those guys make plays [on] the balls that are thrown straight to them, but they're not just covering guys straight up and just shutting them down. I haven't seen any of that. . . They're very beatable."
I pray that Manning lights Plaxico Burress up the first time a ball is thrown his way over the middle. Our CB's are going to have to step up.
I've thought about it a lot this morning. Thought about Sunday night in the Meadowlands with the winds gusting from the swamps I call home. I've thought about it and I've made a decision...
It is time to start Cedric Benson.
Not because I believe he's capable of altering the Bears over-exaggerated running game problems. But more because I know what Thomas Jones is capable of and I think it's time for an identity switch. TJ is good back but watching Mercedes Benson run live on Sunday was like watching a truck drive 90 down a San Francisco street. He doesn't hit holes. He punches holes in the face and talks trash about their mothers.
I want to see what this guy is capable of over the long-haul of a football game. Let's see him wear down a front seven. Forget this six carry bullshit. Let's see what he looks like on the 26th carry. What better place to experiment than in the swirling winds of North Jersey. TJ is a good back...but if Benson can be great, it might just be the thing that saves the Chicago Bears offense over the next 8 games and beyond.
And I've made a decision. I'm going to write about what I watched yesterday today and today alone. I'm going to get some of these things out of my system and then we're all moving on. Moving on to the Meadowlands. Moving on for a showdown with the Giants. But yesterday was like being forcefed some completely unedible food product and not be allowing to vomit. I just sat there in that beautiful stadium and had to let the vomitous taste sit in my mouth as I washed it down with plastic cup after plastic cup of Old Style Light. Okay...
I fucking hate Jay Mariotti but he got me today. Watching Grossman play sometimes while wearing that number is eery. Ron Turner needs to get him under control. If he's struggling, shorten the routes. Call some screens. Simplify the offense. Or else put him on the sideline. How can a player want to lose more than Joey Harrington??
Everyone say it at once...THROW IT AWAY!
I don't wanna watch Justin Gage play for the Bears anymore.
This week in practice I want this. Brad Maynard punts the ball up in the air and Devin Hester fields it. Every time he physically crosses the ten yard line, a cage full of rabid wolverines is released and allowed to devour him whole.
Where'd Tommie Harris go? I'm not sure but wherever he is, he's probably lined up in the neutral zone.
Justin Gage sucks.
Just me (and Noah) or did Cedric Benson look terrific in limited duty? Getting him out of the game as fast as possible was definitely the right thing to do. Maybe they can get Justin Gage some carries.
Charles Tillman. Oh, Charles Tillman. You're lucky this team has Justin Gage or you'd be getting your own column today.
Enough (I just yelled fuck), I'm done with yesterday. On to tomorrow. This team is going to win Sunday night in the Meadowlands and then errant passes into the waiting arms of Jason Taylor become as distant a memory as Jim Miller trying to make tackles in playoff games. This team is going to win Sunday night and we'll talk and laugh and frolic in the meadow. This team is going to win Sunday night because they have pride and they'll be embarrassed by what we all have to say about them over the next six days. This team is going to win Sunday night because goddamnit...I say so.
The honeymoon was great. Reality was on hold, the ordinary stresses did not apply. You were getting morning hummers without asking, and the conversation was tolerable, mostly because there wasn't much to talk about. You started thinking that things were going so well that maybe they just might go perfectly forever. One morning, after eating the breakfast she brought to you in bed, you vaguely congratulate yourself on being attracted to such a wonderful thing. Then right at that moment, she looks up from her coffee and, apropos of nothing, asks, "Would you still love me if I got fat?"
The bubble is burst. The Bears shit the bed they'd spent a season and a half making. It's not the end of the world, but it's not something I particularly needed right now. I had certainly never expected that the Bears would go undefeated, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't fervently hoped it and believed they could do it. And when I browsed through the schedule and guessed at where a loss might come, I stopped pausing at the Miami Dolphins about a month ago.
Honestly, though, the Dolphins are not as bad as their 2-6 record. Did you nod in agreement with that? I hope not. The AARP Dolphins were openly mocking them. They have been terrible all year. Any team that improves by inserting Joey Harrington into the lineup deserves to be beaten like a teenager's pecker. Yet the Bears lost to them two weeks after they came within a gnat's nipple of saving Denny Green's job.
But, Christ, they're my team, so I'm going to have to simmer down at some point. "For better or for worse." I just wish I didn't even have to look for answers to the question of how they lost to the most underachieving team in the league. A loss to a real team would still hurt, but it wouldn't be so goddamn disorienting. Would we still love them if they got fat? What kind of a question is that? How about don't get fat, hmm?
You start to think back and wonder if you might have been the annoying couple who spent a little too much time together and used pet names in public. You feel a little sheepish, a little stupid. But just when you're at your most annoyed and embarrassed, something comes along that makes you feel a little better. Your neighbor across the street -- the one who's in the closet and always making snide comments about your taste -- well, somebody emailed you a video of his wife getting fucked by a horse.
His name is Dave.
56-54-3. Suckage continues with a 5-8 last week. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not even thinking this week. A couple notes before the picks:
Your own DISTRICT SELECTMAN will be writing a guest column on Sunday night as I'll be in a local Chicago dive taking in Manning vs. Brady. Give him a lot of shit.
And thanks to all for the Rexommendations. Malnati's and Ditka's are definitely two hits...with a full review of the pot roast nachos and various other joints on the way.
CHICAGO BEARS -13.5 OVER MIAMI
Why do I like the Bears this week?
1. I always like the Bears.
2. Joey Harrington.
BALTIMORE -2.5 OVER CINCINATTI
BUFFALO -2.5 OVER GREEN BAY
DETROIT +5.5 OVER ATLANTA
TENNESEE +8.5 OVER JACKSONVILLE
HOUSTON +13 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
KANSAS CITY +2.5 OVER ST. LOUIS
NEW ORLEANS -1.5 OVER TAMPA BAY
DALLAS -2.5 OVER WASHINGTON
SAN FRANCISCO +5.5 OVER MINNESOTA
PITTSBURGH -2.5 OVER DENVER
CLEVELAND +12.5 OVER SAN DIEGO
INDIANAPOLIS +3.5 OVER NEW ENGLAND
OAKLAND +7.5 OVER SEATTLE
Next week we prepare for the biggest game of the season and it's my own backyard. Love it. District Selectman will see you back here at 8-0 Sunday night.
DaBearsBlog heads to Chicago this week as your 2006 Chicago Bears host the Miami Dolphins. So we need a list of joints to hit while we're in the city for a couple days. Preferably the types of places where this conversation could take place:
Me: ...but to be honest, Mark Carrier could have fit right in on that '85 team.
Guy: Okay, okay...but Hilgenberg or Kreutz?
Two quick stats through seven games:
-Rex Grossman is the least sacked quarterback in the NFL through seven games.
-The '85 Bears' opponents had the exact same record as the '06 Bears through seven games.