I like the Bears. I like the Bears a lot. I like the Bears to win the Super Bowl. Up your ass, suspense. Last year I had the Bears 12-4 and picked them to beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl for the first time in my life. Fool me onceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not going team-by-team because (a) itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s boring and (b) whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the point?
THE SIX NFC PLAYOFF TEAMS
The Bears should have the NFC North wrapped up by early December but that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean they can sleepwalk through the final month. A brilliantly scheduled Week 17 match-up with New Orleans might determine home field advantage in the conference. One way or the other, I think Philadelphia and Dallas are both getting in. The NFC West looks like itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be three teams racing to nine wins. I like St. Louis. Last spot goes to the Carolina Panthers. Jake Delhomme physically threw away three or four wins last year. They wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let him do it this year, with David Carr waiting in the wings.
THE SIX AFC PLAYOFF TEAMS
I think New England, Indianapolis and Baltimore are sure thing division winners. The rest of the world thinks San Diego is the best team in football but until they win something, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll hold back on that. Though theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve looked horrible in the preseason, I think the Broncos are going to push the Chargers all year long and might win that division. Last team in? The Bengals will be the team nobody wants to play in the playoffs.
MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE BEARS SEASON
This might sound surprising but it is Week 2, at home, against the Chiefs. Should the Bears lose to the Chargers on opening day, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be imperative that they rebound at home the following week. Starting 0-2 makes home field advantage an uphill climb. Should they beat the Chargers, beating the Chiefs might catapult them to a six or seven game winning streak to start the season.
Your turn. Gimme six from each conference and the Bears game you've got your eye on. Coming soon: Part II of this column and a week of preparing for the season to begin.
One of my favorite moments of the sports year has come. The Week One lines are out and there's a juicy mother looking me in the eyes.
Bears +6 at San Diego.
Tell me Lovie...why your number one draft choice is playing in the second quarter of the last preseason game?
First off, yours truly continues his rampage through the radio world. Yesterday I was surprised to find myself on MVN radio. Here's the link to the interview.
Nobody get damn hurt. Other than that, I could care less what the hell happens tonight. Nobody get damn hurt.
Also, don't be surprised to see the Bears pull a Dusty D with second-round pick Dan Bazuin and throw him on IR for his rookie season. The Bears use IR like a red shirt and Bazuin has been nagged by a knee injury the entire preseason.
Tomorrow I'll predict what's going to happen in the National Football League over the next six months. Was half right on my Ravens/Bears Super bowl prediction of a year ago. What surprises do I have in store for 2007?
Mike Downey wrote an interesting piece in yesterday's Tribune where he makes the argument that Lance Briggs' behavior won't be found morally reprehensible by fans but it certainly should be. It begs a simple question. What illegal actions by athletes are okay enough to not warrant the wrath of fans?
I don't have an answer. Is dogfighting worst than a DUI? Is possession of an arsenal in your home worse than being party to a gang shooting in a Las Vegas strip club? Is crashing and abandoning your car on the highway any better than slapping than your girlfriend?
As we approach the homestretch leading up to the regular season, this will be the last off-field discussion for hopefully the next six months but it's a topic no one seems interested in actually discussing. Lance Briggs crashed and car and walked away and I'm sorta okay with that. Why? What else would needed to have been involved for me to be less okay? Again, I have no answer. But I'd like to know if any of you do.
Note: This weekend da site will open the trunk, extract the parchment and quill and play Nostradamus to the 2007 football season with a special slant as only available from DaBearsBlog.
Just watching the television program formerly known as Cold Pizza and found myself getting physically angry at the screen. I apologize for weighing in on a topic I promised myself to stay away from but I just heard someone compare Joe Montana not coming to a Super Bowl halftime show because he wanted more money to Vick's disgusting behavior and...well...come the fuck on! Their argument, a common one: the only crime Vick has committed was being a young black man in white racist America.
The reason Mike Vick is being persecuted by the press and villainized by the public is because he has been party to a crime that a majority of Americans had no idea existed and subsequently find morally repulsive. Ray Lewis may have killed someone. Leonard Little drove drunk and DID kill someone, then drove drunk a week later. Tank Johnson had an arsenal at the bedside of young children. None of them has been castigated by the fans like Vick has and the reason has nothing to do with color. It has to do with the ritual execution of dogs. Hanging them from trees. Throwing them against walls. Drowning them in a swimming pool. Hundreds of dogs. We hear murder, DUI, possession and we understand them. We've heard of them before. We've never heard of dog genocide before. And we like dogs a whole lot.
Now his mother and hometown churchgoers are marching in front of the courtroom begging for his exoneration. Every ten seconds someone reminds me Vick bought a church for them. Now that's an argument that worked very well for Don Imus, didn't it? He bought a church, he can't be all that bad. (Imus is a man who has given more to charity than Vick will ever make.) Vick just mentioned in his thoroughly rehearsed statement that he's found Jesus...and that he thinks that's the right thing to do. Good, Michael. Tell Jesus I said hello. Just don't throw him against a brick wall when he can't help you fight your demons.
Mike Vick executed dogs. A lot of dogs. Now he goes to jail and takes a little break from the football field. I'm not happy because he has dread locks and came from poverty. I'm happy because I find him a disgusting individual and would rather not see him on my television screen for a couple years.
Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears now. Week one. Week seventeen. The playoffs. I can write a haiku about last night's pick six and an epic poem about all the fumbled snaps but why risk carpal tunnel. The preseason is about debating who should wear the burnt and navy but the preseason is over. Two weeks from today the Bears play the San Diego Chargers.
The truth is if he wasn't the starting quarterback I'd miss him like hell. Sexy Rexy has become a microcosm for the Coney Island roller coaster of life. Sometimes everything feels like a forty-five yard completion to Bernard Berrian. Sometimes all you seem to get are first downs. Sometimes you score at will. Other times you find yourself diving to the turf for botched snaps, hoping for another shot. When things go well, you're the Highlander. You're immortal. When it rains, the levees break. Maybe that's why I like him so much. Being a sports fan is about an intense emotional investment in fifty-three men you have absolutely nothing to do with. In terms of an emotional investment, Rex Grossman is the last half hour of Field of Dreams. As soon as you've listed your fists in celebration of James Earl Jones' "baseball" speech, you're opening your palms to wipe away the tears as a father and son share a catch.
Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears now. As if there was any chance he wouldn't be. There'll be more interceptions, I know that. There'll be fumbled snaps, I'm sure. There'll be moments when I'll step off my bar stool and up into the street to smoke a cigarettes (I don't smoke) to calm the urge to commit a homicide. But boy does he have some right arm. Quite possibly the best this organization has ever had under center.
In two weeks, San Diego. Until then, we stay silent on DaBlog about Rex Grossman. Now it's on Rex and Rex alone. Two weeks. San Diego. Bear down.
...you're not seeing the Bears tonight. The game will air on NFL Network tomorrow night at 11:00 pm. The NFL has to find a way to make these games part of the Sunday ticket package and at least give out of town fans an opportunity to see their teams during the summer. Give people the option to pay a little extra. A lot of people I know would.
I'll be listening to a radio broadcast on a buddy's satellite radio hookup. If you're in the Chicago area, please come on tonight or tomorrow and give us your thoughts. I'm sure no matter what happens, the topic of conversation will center around #8 but we'll go wherever you guys lead us.
Addendum: Grossman playing a magnificent game thus far, sans the silly fumbled snap. He's smart with the football, comfortable in the pocket and intensely accurate. This team is incredibly balanced offensively and incredibly good defensively. They're special. Bring on the Chargers.
Addendum #2: Grossman has to flash a little Bad Rex just so we don't get too excited. Pick six the other way.
Brett Favre is about Brett Favre - no matter what the John Maddens of the world want you to believe. Tonight I sat on a dingy couch in Park Slope, Brooklyn and I could smell it eminating from Lambeau Field. What, you might ask? Old-fashioned bullshit.
Why is Brett Favre playing this season? It can't be about the records. No, Bretty Favre believes Brandon Jackson can rush them to another Super Bowl title. Bretty Favre believes James Jones is the second-coming of Sterling Sharpe. The eternal Favre myth is that #4 is all about team and winning. Yet there is no single player in the NFL (outside the wide receiver position) who seems to show-up his teammates with more regularity than Favre. Tonight - in a pointless preseason game - Favre stood in the middle of the football field and with great animation directed kid wideouts on how they SHOULD HAVE run their respected routes. Imagine what the analysts would say if Rex Grossman behaved like that ("what an insipid child!"). What a leader and teammate should do is wait till the kids get to the sideline and speak to them. Not Favre. Favre knows the cameras are on the field, not always the sideline. And he wants us to know where the true fault of that incomplete pass lies. Comments made about his behavior: none.
It can't be about the records...even though every major quarterbacking record will be reached by Favre in the 2007 season. And if there's one thing Favre hates, it is attention. He hates that weekly press conference in Green Bay (the only one of its kind in any sport in the country). He hates the will-he-or-won't-he debates he self-perpetuates at the end of every season. Favre cares about winning another championship but does a person who has actually said his team could lose ten games believe that team has a chance of winning one?
Brett Favre is about Brett Favre. But John Madden loves it when he smiles because Bretty loves playing the game. That is until his week ten press conference where he reveals, "Sometimes I don't love playing the game." But then he'll walk off Lambeau after having beaten a lowly Lions team to end the season and cry to a standing ovation. Favre will tell us all how much he'll miss the team, how much he'll miss the game. And he'll retire.
Unless he hasn't broken all those records...
Mike Freeman of CBSSportsline.com writes a column entitled Camp tour: The Bears dynasty begins now. Mike Freeman knows how to get my attention. To read the entirety of the article, click here. Freeman gives ten reasons why the Bears are poised to be the new Patriots for years to come.
10. A weak NFC: It's the junior varsity, really. The NFL equivalent of the NBA's Eastern Conference. Chicago demonstrated that last season by reaching the Super Bowl with a mediocre offense. The best defense in the conference belongs to the Bears and it's not even close. Chicago's defense will likely remain king of the NFC for some time and that will help them dominate the conference.
9. Brian Urlacher: Several years ago there were more than a few players in the NFL who strongly believed that Urlacher was intensely overrated. They don't feel that way any longer. If he stays healthy, Urlacher will be one of the top three middle linebackers in football for the next three to five years.
8. Jerry Angelo, general manager: Totally screwed up Smith's contract situation last year by making Smith wait unnecessarily, but Angelo is very Patriot-like in his approach to building the team. The Bears mostly build through the draft, make smart free-agent choices and respect the salary cap.
7. A horrible division: The NFC North might be the worst in football. The key to building a dynasty is dominating your division, and the North will be a stinky mess for years to come. Just look at it. Green Bay will soon be without Brett Favre, Matt Millen in Detroit is a cautionary tale with the Lions cloaked in failure, and Minnesota is still some years away from challenging Chicago. It's easy pickings for the Bears.
6. Stability: The Bears seem to be on the verge of a long stable period, vital for establishing a dynasty. "What I like about this franchise is that, for the most part, we're a unified franchise now," said Smith. "I'm not sure you could have said that about us a few years ago."
5. Speed: San Diego, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Jacksonville (on defense), Baltimore (on defense) and the Bears are among the teams in football with the greatest team speed, according to two NFL scouts. These scouts rank the Bears as perhaps No. 1.
4. Devin Hester: Hester could end up being one of the most devastating weapons in football in the past 10 years.
3. Depth: The Patriots and Bears are the two deepest teams in football, according to the two scouts. The Bears, for instance, were able to let a nice talent go (Thomas Jones) yet replace him from the bowels of their own roster with the equally talented Cedric Benson. The secondary is probably the deepest in football. There are many other examples. "This is the deepest team we've had by far," said Smith.
2. Lovie Smith: Understated coaches almost always do not get the respect they deserve. Chest-pounders and one-line generators always get more praise even when unwarranted. Smith is the most underrated coach in football and what he did last year -- handling a messy quarterback situation and not going nuclear over the shabby treatment at the hands of his front office all while going to a Super Bowl -- easily earns him that title.
One more thing. Smith has quietly assembled a fairly impressive coaching staff.
1. Rex Grossman: Oh boy, I can hear the chuckles. Grossman? Are you kidding me? He's a total turd. No, his season last year will not go down in league history. He will not be confused with Johnny Unitas. Yet Grossman's camp performance so far has shown why Smith has stuck by him. Grossman thus far is more poised and accurate and less sloppy in his decision making. I think we will see Grossman emerge as a solid thrower this year.
If Grossman can simply be consistent, the Bears will win 10 to 11 games a year. If he can be good, they'll dominate the NFC for years to come
(Grossman, it should be noted, is also his reason why the Bears WON'T be dynasty)
Got a chance to watch Monday night's game a second time and a few things really stood out (aside from the quarterback).
1. If Corey Graham and Kevin Payne play as hard as they did Monday night, then both players are going to make this team and contribute on special teams. These guys looked like potential starters in a couple years.
2. It might be early but Fred Miller did not look ready to play a football game at right tackle. He looked slow and out of shape.
3. I love Devin Hester but why is he returning kicks in a preseason game? And worse...why is our number one receiver returning punts in the SECOND HALF of a preseason game?
4. Danieal Manning looks like just another brilliant Jerry Angelo draft choice. He might be the breakout star of this defense.
5. Dusty Dvoracek is the size of my apartment. And he looks like the real deal. Anthony Adams. Not so much.
6. I keep wondering what would have happened if Brian Griese relieves Grossman in the Packer game to end last season and plays really well.
7. Hey, that new-and-improved Kyle Orton looks a lot like the old-and-developing Kyle Orton.
8. 17 days till San Diego.
With apologies to PO'd and the rest of the fervent Rex supporters, there is no argument against what I'm about to say. IF YOU CAN'T EXECUTE THE CENTER/QUARTERBACK EXCHANGE YOU DON'T BELONG ON A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL FIELD. Thirty-two men in the entire world get to start at quarterback in the NFL. Only one of them - ONE - consistently can't take snaps. If I woke up this morning and the Bears had waived Rex, I don't think I could have blamed them. Last night he looked like Chad Hutchinson did a few years back. Chad got cut. Rex gets the same old coma-inducing "he's our guy" mantra from players, coaches, management and the the tooth fairy.
As for the rest the rest of the team...they are who I thought they were. They're the most talented roster in the conference and should win a lot of games with an explosive defense and the best special teams in all the NFL. They need a quarterback.
I know it doesn't count. My friends have told me. Bartenders. Family. "The game doesn't count," they say with an air of incredulity about them. I've tried to explain using metaphor after metaphor what it means that the Colts and Bears will be on the same field Monday night.
This isn't about retribution. No game ever makes up for the big one. This isn't about the Bears putting up another preseason W or playing a dominant first quarter. This game is the jilted lover showing he's moved on. This game is about taking a step out of the shadows of 2006 and establishing the tempo for 2007.
What will it mean to see Rex Grossman play intelligently aggressive? What will it mean to see Cedric Benson slice through the Parkay from seven of Indy? What will it mean to see Joseph Addai held for less yards than carries? Nothing in the stat book. Nothing in the story of this coming NFL season. Nothing to the casual sports fan who doesn't even know football has started.
I think it means everything to a team that sees itself as the heir apparent to the highest throne in professional sports: Super Bowl champion. I think the UNFINISHED mantra of Olin Kreutz ceases to be a shirt slogan and commences as a battle cry. I think if the Chicago Bears don't play like Monday night means something, then I question much more about them then their signal caller.
I didn't get to see the game last night for reasons not worth writing about on here today. I have - through the magic of the modern media - been able to assemble collections of highlights and reports from the game. I bring you those now. And let me start here.
The Bears are going to be very good this year. From David in the Trib:
Rex Grossman, carrying over the sharpness from Bourbonnais, went 8-for-10 in one quarter and spread those completions among five receivers.
Muhsin Muhammad didn't look like a guy who had missed most of the last week of practiceÃ¢â‚¬â€or a 34-year-old one, either. Bernard Berrian and Mark Bradley each made tough catches that suggested the receiving corps is coming of age. Devin Hester resembled a veteran pass-catcher by making a reception in traffic, and the stadium gasped when he faked a reverse.
And perhaps the best and most significant news for the Bears' passing game and the rest of the NFC came when tight end Greg Olsen caught two of Grossman's passes.
Olsen, who started the game in the Bears' two-tight end set, continued a seamless transition to the NFL that has made him the franchise's most natural tight end since da guy in the announcer's booth Saturday night, Mike Ditka.
"We looked pretty sharp," Grossman said.
From what I saw, Grossman looked terrific and was a perfect 8-for-8 to start the game. Orton clearly outplayed Griese - who just looked lost. Benson is a horse. Olsen is going to be a star. I need the season to start.
Who else got a little goosebumpy when they read today's headline?
If you're in the Chicago area, you can turn on ye olde boob tube of dreams and watch the fellas toss it around in live technicolor. If you're not, the NFL Network will be airing the game at the ultra convenient hour of midnight this evening (because the world has been clamoring for the feed of Redskins v. Titans LIVE!).
I'll be at Josie Woods tonight at midnight for the contest (most likely) and will have a full report in the morning. Anyone finding themselves in the New York City area tonight is welcome to join me. I stopped in this week and the Bears flag has already been hoisted.
I remember a day not too long ago. A day before every five year-old had a cell phone. A day before trans fat was a thing. A day before Al Gore was a symbol of hope.
That day - not so long ago - the Chicago Bears tried to convince us that a stable of wide receivers named Marty Booker, Dez White, Justin Gage and Bobby Wade was of a professional caliber. Granted, Marty was a good Bears. Dez White could not catch then and cannot catch now. Justin Gage is one of the five worst football players alive. Bobby Wade fumbled seventy-three consecutive punts. They also decided for the better part of a decade to leave the tight end roster spot un-filled.
Now there is a new day. The Bears enter their 2007 Campaign For Football Immortality with two young studs (Berrian, Bradley), a proven veteran (Moose), a rock star (Devin Hester) and a slot man with a penchant for the big play (Rash Davis). Desmond Clark is arguably one of the most versatile tight ends in the game but the Bears went out and drafted the star of camp thus far - Greg Olsen. Don't look now but the Chicago Bears might score an awful lot of points in the coming season. An organization that has forged a legacy on great defense and a ground attack has quietly assembled a fleet of receivers that can stand toe-to-toe with some of the league's best units.
But there's this saying about a tree falling in the woods...
If you've got a great corps of pass catchers and no one to throw them the ball...
In other words...it's the quarterback, stupid.
I'll admit it. I was a Chris Harris guy. I liked the fire. I liked the explosiveness. I didn't so much care for the complete lack of ability in coverage but I sacrificed that for some terrific hits.
But the writing was on the wall for today's trade to the Carolina Panthers (for a fifth round pick next year). Returning a healthy Mike Brown and adding the run-stuffing Drunk (get it? A.A.) simply left no room for Harris in this secondary. The Panthers are getting a nice player with definite upside but Harris would have been simply taking up roster space for a couple special teams tackles a week.
Also...I recommend everyone check out Peter King's report from Bears camp. He's the first major columnist to spend some time there and it sounds very promising (though too much about Tank Johnson - a player not there - for my taste).
There'll be plenty in the coming weeks about Greg Olsen and Devin Hester bringing new dimensions of speed to the offense. There'll be plenty about the battle for the two starting safety spots. Today. Kyle Orton.
John Mullin writes a terrific piece in today's Trib. Apparently, Orton has come to camp with a stronger arm and more intimidating physique. Ron Turner has called him lightyears better than he was as a ten-game winner (remember that?) two years ago. According to Mullin, there are two questions:
Can Orton emerge from the preseason as the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Brian Griese? And in the event that Rex Grossman does not work out, can Orton possibly play his way into becoming the franchise quarterback of the Bears' future? The answer to both is ... yes.
Not gonna lie...I'm interested. All of a sudden, the first preseason game looms not only as a showcase for the development of Rex Grossman but also for the re-invention of his fallen predecessor. Kyle Orton has the next month plus to establish himself as the the quarterback-in-the-wings and I'd be more than happy to see it happen.