I won't be anywhere near a computer tomorrow so I'm bringing my Sunday pick/preview (in extended form) today.
The Bears haven't won this game all year. They've followed wonderful wins at Green Bay, at Philly and at Oakland with demoralizing losses the following week. They haven't seen .500 since Week 2. But they haven't faced Eli Manning yet.
CHICAGO BEARS 30
NEW YORK GIANTS 9
I know I should be taking the Bears with a conservative 23-18 score but I'm not. This is the week I want Lovie and Ronald to coach like its the Super Bowl. I want the Giants to leave Soldier Field so deflated they have no shot in Philly next week. This is the NFC Announcement Game for the Chicago Bears. If they win, they could go on the kind of run that'll make them the team no one wants to see in the postseason.
You know wanna know how much of successful drafting is based on luck? Mike Mulligan actually did some real journalism in today's Sun-Times:
In fact, Hester nearly went earlier. The Tennessee Titans had him on the phone and told him they were going to take him at No. 45 before changing fields and selecting USC running back LenDale White. If the Bears hadn't taken him at No. 57, he'd have fallen no more than four picks because the Broncos were going to take him at No. 61, a source said this week. Instead, they took tight end Tony Scheffler -- who caught a touchdown pass between his knees Sunday against the Bears.
Oddly enough the Bears wouldn't have even been in the market for Hester if their first option -- signing local product Antwaan Randle El in free agency -- hadn't blown up when the Washington Redskins stepped in and made a big-money offer. Toub chuckles at the idea now, conceding ''there is no way we'd have drafted Devin'' if Randle El signed in free agency.
So the Skunk is a Bear and we have the Tennessee Titans and Dan Snyder's greed to thank.
3. Muhsin Muhammad
Go back and look at the replay of the illegal contact call on 4th and 10. Moose should have caught the damn ball. the Bears lead the league in drops and 13 Million Moose is a big reason why.
2. Adam Archuleta
There's a football term for AA: shit.
1. Fred Miller
It is very rarely to see a player get old on the football field but the bears have no choice but to put John St. Clair at right tackle this weekend. If they don't, Michael Strahan will dominate the first quarter.
Rex Grossman has five more games to quarterback the Chicago Bears. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll play those games in the absence of an every-down running back. He'll play those games with serious protection issues on his right side. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll play them with a group of receivers that catch only the balls they feel like catching when they feel like catching them. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll play them with a defense thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s covering and tackling as poorly as they have since Lovie Smith arrived and maybe since the mustache roamed the sideline. Perhaps most importantly, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll play three of them in front of a rabid Soldier Field crowd, foaming at the mouth to see Kyle Orton play quarterback. (Sidenote: DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t GrossmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2006 season cancel out the But Kyle Orton won ten games in 2005 argument).
Now is the time to put everything on Grossman. The self-delusional running football team seems a different unit when they commit completely to the pass: second half in Green Bay, last drive in Philly, final minutes against Minnesota and DenverÃ¢â‚¬Â¦etc. Ron Turner must learn from Mike Holmgren Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a much better coach than heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll ever be Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and capitalize on his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strengths instead of continuing his feeble attempts to revive its principal weakness. The transition will not only give the Bears their best chance to win but it will also give this postseason longshot an opportunity to learn everything possible about their current quarterback before cutting the cord. It has become apparent, maybe only to me, that Sexy Rexy is a viable professional play with kinetic greatness, if seemingly matched by a propensity to put the football on the ground. In laymanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s terms: Good Rex/Bad Rex. He has, however, played differently since being benched and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no doubting this teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faith in him. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s everything Eli Manning is not. When the Bears put Sunday on Rex, Rex delivered with a magical fourth quarter. If Rex can eliminate the turnovers down the stretch, would anyone object to bringing him back next summer?
The Bears must learn the lesson of this SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game before next SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game. When they allow themselves to throw on early downs, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a different offensive team, completing their three longest passes of the day on first down. The New York Giants pass rush is their only defensive strength and the Bears can not afford to put themselves in obvious passing situations, especially with the St. Clair/Miller v. Strahan mismatch. Spread the Giants out and exploit their weak secondary. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a single defensive back that can hang with Berrian or Hester, especially if Derek RossÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ injury lingers. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a linebacker or safety who can hang with Olsen or Clark.
If Grossman fails this test, then (so what?) he fails this test and the Chicago Bears move into the off-season with the same concern the Windy CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s had since Lucky left town. If Grossman passes this test and continues to pass for four more games, maybe we can spend the draft on players who block, catch and tackle. In the absence of every down running back, let's find out if we have an every week quarterback.
There are certainly a lot of good things to take away from SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game. Aside from listening to the worst commentator alive in Dan Dierdorf I saw an entertaining tilt. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not going to say much about #23 today because there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t much to say except that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simply amazing. The best return man of all time. I saw Devin Hester light up the Broncos special teams like they have never seen. I also saw Rex Grossman will this team down the field on a Ã¢â‚¬Å“do or die or your seasons overÃ¢â‚¬? type of drive amid continued dropped passes and great coverage from two of the leagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best cornerbacks in Dre Bly and Champ Bailey. I think if I were Rex I may have lost my composure at several times during that game. Moose dropped a TD pass and a pass on a key third down, the O-line took points off the board on a pass to Greg Olsen and eventually backed us up to third and 73, Davis dropped another important third down pass, etc. The list goes on. But this is about the win. We beat the Broncos, like we were supposed to, in exciting overtime fashion. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care how it was done but the team pulled through.
Rex had his fair share of blunders on Sunday too including a fumble on a key drive. But this guy looks like a different QB than we saw late last year or even early this year. Is there any doubt that this guy is our QB right now? There shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be. He is no longer taking as many chances. And as someone said on here last week, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind the deep pass getting picked off occasionally. We need to try and stretch the field to open the run game up and if the pass is intercepted itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like a punt.
I was calling for AP along with several others and now that we saw him exclusively I realize that Cedric is the better back. Closed circuit to Lovie, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sorry for doubting your decision. The O-line is not creating much for the RBs but Cedric is better for what they are creating. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to say it but I think we are going to miss him if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s down for too long.
Every week that we win we keep thinking that this team will snap out of its funk and return to 2006 form. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna happen. We are going to be playing competitive games for the rest of the year. There will be no blowouts, no easy victories. This team needs to keep its nose to the grindstone every second of every play every week. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how we are going to win and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m fine with that. Just win.
I am more than a little excited for next weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game. Maybe Arhculeta will actually wrap up and tackle someone. Maybe Vasher will play. After seeing the G-men get destroyed by the purple I really think we can handle them. Every week is the playoffs for this team. Every week is do or die. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s play!
I stole today's headline directly from this morning's Peter King column and he's right. Devin Hester IS mocking history. Jay Mariotti calls Hester the closest thing to MJ since MJ (something we've been saying here for months). David Haugh does the best job of truly breaking down Hester's significance in history. Let me put it this way: he's better than every kick returner in the history of football and it ain't close.
No full column today...just thoughts. And here they are...
1. Michael Strahan is a shell of what he used to be but Fred Miller still won't be able to block him. Something has to change at right tackle.
2. Adam Archuleta's only responsibilty Sunday should be making sure the Bears are hydrated. What was all that bullshit about tackling being his strength?
3. Steve Rosenbloom's blog got it right today: It's not as if Rex Grossman needs more help in killing his NFL career, but somebody needs to explain to the offensive tackles and wide receivers what their jobs are. Block. Catch. Come on.
4. Charles Tillman played an absolutely brilliant game yesterday, saving touchdowns and blocking punts. If this team can finally get Nathan Vasher back on the field, we might be able to see what this secondary is capable of.
The Bears now begin preparing for a Giants team that pitched an all-time disaster from the mound yesterday. The season is not dead yet.
ADDENDUM: Cedric Benson reportedly out for the season (ESPN). AP time.
DaBearsBlog shall not hibernate for the winter. We are alive. We are well. Goddamnit...we're still in this thing. I'm not going to write an elaborate post tonight. It isn't my column. Your beloved Pissed Off owns tonight's space but due to technical difficulties will be forced to write my column tomorrow. But I will say the following...
If you'd like to kick to Devin Hester...
If you want to kick to Devin Hester...
If you think you can beat Devin Hester...
Be my guest.
The Bears are deer in the middle of the highway. A deer that's been hit by car after car after car and yet refuses to die. The Bears aren't a good football team (not even close) yet thanks to the Detroit Lions loss this afternoon, the Bears find themselves a win away from being a game out of the wildcard. You may remember this scenario from the day formerly known as last Friday.
I don't think the Bears are going to the playoffs but thanks to a Detroit team that is going to be underdogs in three of its last six games, the Bears have some air in their lungs. It'll give me enough of a reason to be excited in front of the television Sunday.
CHICAGO BEARS 23
DENVER BRONCOS 18
Note:I've taken the averages of my predictions for each of the Bears four victories to determine this score.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
1. I always like the Chicago Bears.
2. Because this is the game they've been winning all year. They haven't won the big game...they've won the game before the big game. The big game would be against the Giants at home next week.
3. Because the Bears defense was embarrassed last week and they have to have some pride, right?
4. Because Ron Turner is coming off his worst performance in two years running this offense and he knows that all eyes are on him. He's got to have some pride, right?
5. Let's be honest: there might not be a single, logical football reason to pick the Bears this week. The answer to why this week is a simple one. I can write whatever I like about how disappointing they are, how gutless they play, how poorly they coach...but every Sunday I still think they'll score more points than the other guys.
He was the heart and soul of the greatest defense to ever step onto a football field. He was the two-time defensive player of the year at a time when folks like Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White were in their prime. He was an eight-time All Pro, a ten-time Pro Bowler. He was the minister. The samurai. Why hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Mike SingletaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s #50 been retired by the Chicago Bears?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time. As a matter of fact itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ten years too late. Brian Urlacher, the most popular Chicago Bear since Walter Payton, is not half the player Samurai was, nor half the man. Yet you look around Soldier Field on game day and no matter what color the jersey Ã¢â‚¬â€œ navy, white, orange Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the number reads 54. When a Bears fan enters Soldier Field, he or she should be able to look up and see 50 as well. The 1985 Chicago Bears had their loose canons and their wild men. They had their punks and drunks but they were led on both sides of the ball by two of the best men to ever wear any uniform. No one will ever wear 34 again in Chicago. No should ever wear 50 either.
The pleas begin today on this little website. Mike Singletary is currently the Assistant Head Coach in San Francisco so giving him a day at Soldier Field will be difficult. But teams have bye weeks. Teams play Thursday night games. Hell if the Bears finish in third place this year, the 49ers may be in Soldier Field next season. This simply must get done. 2008 will be the tenth anniversary of Mike SingletaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s induction into the Hall of Fame. How long must he wait to be immortalized in the building where for twelve years he represented everything we love about the Chicago Bears?
We sit here today Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the day before Thanksgiving 2007 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ our season over. We question our teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heart. We question their dedication, their passion. What better time to remember Mike Singletary? If you're a reader of this site who doesn't post, I hope you'll write something about Mike in the comments. Let's make a statement...even if it's a quiet one.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody. We'll return Friday and look at the 4-6 Bears home game with the Denver Broncos.
Yesterday I spent the day in my other universe: immersed myself in a Sam Shepard documentary called This So-Called Disaster, watched A Raisin in the Sun for the 100th time and worked on a new play. DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think about the Chicago Bears. DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to think about the Chicago Bears.
Sometimes this gig is ta pain in the ass. Not the writing, mind you, but the enthusiasm. Chicago sportswriters can waste four days of newspaper space with god knows what because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their job. They can just write about why the Bears are bad and some jackoff commuter will wanna read it. That isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t my job. This isn't my job. This is my passion and my first love but not my job. But somethingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happened this season that hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happened in a long time...
The Chicago Bears have become unlikable. Not the entire roster but certainly a significant piece to this disaster of a puzzle. The running back Ã¢â‚¬â€œ first quarter Sunday aside Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has the passion and energy of a manic-depressive. The coach validates a moronic fourth and one call by repeating weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a running football team - which being that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the worst running football team on earth, should be enough to get him fired. The receivers drop balls. The defenders miss tackles. The offensive line forgets how to block. The punter has come up shorter than the kickerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kickoffs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which elicit a chorus of cheers should they reach inside the ten. Everything bothers me about this team. Bad gameplans, poor execution, delusional post-game commentary...etc. Everything bothers me but Devin Hester.
In the meantime, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to spend today working on a piece that will cheer me up and look forward to bringing it to you Wednesday.
I have a rule when it comes to evaluating a coaching staff: how much do I really know? I've never coached on any level. I don't know how difficult it is to execute an efficient gameplan on either side of the ball. But I do know one thing: when the network covering the game knows the play you're running, you ain't doing a good job calling plays. And in the second half of yesterday's debacle, Fox put their cameras squarely on Devin Hester as he went in motion for a who-didn't-see-it-coming end around that lost about a million yards and destroyed any confidence I may have had in Lovie Smith or Ronald Turner.
How can a defense this talented be this bad? How can the only play designed for Greg Olsen a four-yard out pattern? How can Jason McKie in the flat still be in the playbook? The 4th and 1 call? Seriously? And on that subject, how can you remove Cedric Benson from what is shaping up to be the game of his life for your continually idiotic rotation of running backs?
The Chicago Bears organization lost a big football game yesterday...the same big football game they've now lost three times this season. Game over. Season over. And after all, isn't it better to know the season's over now then lose by 40 to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I know...I know...
For those of you with the turkey carving responsibilities on Thanksgiving this Thursday, you may want to take notice of the form of Matt Hasselbeck. 30-44 for 337 and a pair of TD passes, and one more that should have been = a carved up Bears defense. It's always interesting to watch a Pro Bowl quarterback and how they fair against our once great defense. Some performances, I'll admit, make me dream of having that QB on our team...and Matt "My sister in law is really hot" Hasselbeck delivered one of those performances.
What does 4-6 mean? Mathematically it means we are up against it. Realistically it means this season ended in coffee country before we sit down to eat our own Turkey dinners and crossing off a Bears playoff berth on your Christmas want list.
I will still cheer for them to win as many games as possible out of these last 6, but it looks like we're staring 7-9 or worse in the face...so, some positives:
We stayed relatively close to a good team in a hostile environment. B-Twice is a different player with Rex, and it's good to see that he is a viable option at WR. Greg Olsen grabbed 7 balls and will be a premier TE by the end of the year. Yeah, that's all I have...
The Bears needed to win at home against the Minnesota Vikings a month ago. They needed to win at home against the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago. They failed on both occasions with an appalling grandeur: not only did they lose but it seemed all fifty-three men on the active roster, the coaching staff, the front-office, the practice squad were eager to stand among the hallowed Soldier Field columns and scream WE ARE NOT A GOOD FOOTBALL TEAM.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m relieved the Chicago Bears are playing a good team on the road Sunday. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m excited that Rex Grossman will resume the starting role amidst one of the more hostile audiences in the National Football League. I feel that way because Sunday will answer THE question: are the Chicago Bears a good football team? Because a good football team Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a playoff-caliber football team Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a football team that has turned off Shit Street onto Save Our Season Boulevard wins Sunday in Seattle. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter how.
CHICAGO BEARS 16
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 13
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
1. I always like the Chicago Bears.
2. Because I believe in the resurgent defense. Over their last three games, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve allowed only two touchdowns and an average of 12.7 points. The Seahawks will attack the Lovie-Deuce underneath all afternoon which will move them down the field but not into the end zone.
3. Because Rex GrossmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s press conference early in the week made me happy. He was mature and loose, actually cracking up a room of writers whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve taken great joy in carving him up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a joke about blowing his chance for the big contract. Rex has nothing to lose Sunday and everything to gain. Call me crazy but I like my quarterback in that spot.
4. Because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hoping the outcome of the successful Raider strategy of kicking to Devin Hester is that teams will continue to kick to Devin Hester. (Acknowledging of course that Hester was a dumb B.A. hold from scoring in Oakland) If they kick to him, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to score this week. To paraphrase the late, great Jim Croce, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tug on SupermanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cape. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t spit into the wind. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pull the mask off the oleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Lone Ranger and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t kick to Devin Hester unless youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a fucking idiot.Ã¢â‚¬?
5. Because from everything IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve read, the Bears are strongly considering moving Adrian Peterson and Hungry Like the Wolfe onto the field and Cedric Benson into the Curtis Enis Wing of my heart. The next time Benson tries to bounce a run outside will be the first time heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done so in the navy and burnt.
6. Greg Olsen. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just putting him here because I wanted to remind Ron Turner that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on the active roster and a tremendous football player. So if you think, Ron, that Greg might be a nice way to make RexÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life easier Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be cool.
As you can see by the Friday columnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Thursday appearance...IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m juiced. Strange as this may sound, a win Sunday and a solid game from Grossman might be the tonic that cures my still-lingering Super Bowl blues. A loss Sunday and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be about as excited for next weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game against the Broncos as I am for the release of the next Tyler Perry movie.
Bear down. If you want to get a little fired up, watch this.
On Sunday, at 4:15 ET, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be rooting for Rex Grossman about as hard as IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever rooted for a professional athlete. Ask me why and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure I could even dream up a response.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve run the same gamut everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s run on Rex Grossman. September 17th 2006 I wrote that Grossman Ã¢â‚¬Å“played today like I always dreamed a Bears quarterback would play." A week later I coined the ill-fated nickname eREXion. By November I was fending off Jay Mariotti calls to fire him and by New Year's I wanted Brian Griese to start the first playoff game. After the Super Bowl, I was ready to move on.
Now we're back to the ranch and Grossman's back in the saddle. The Bears can say everything they want about Griese's bum shoulder but this move doesn't have anything to do with injury. The Chicago Bears love Rex Grossman and they want him to be their starting quarterback. If he succeeds, Griese's time on the field is all but over this season, no matter how his shoulder feels.
And I hope he succeeds. As bad as Rex Grossman has been, he's also been brilliant. Not good. Not great. Brilliant. If second-half 2007 Rex can re-kindle the magic of first-half 2006 Rex then the Bears can seriously take a run at the NFC. To paraphrase Waterworld, "Rex Grossman's ceiling is not a myth. I have seen it." We need to see it again if the Bears are going to play January football. We'll know Sunday.
In journalism, you need a good hook and hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one for Bears fans: if the Chicago Bears win Sunday theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be one game behind in the wildcard race at 5-5.
Still IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not ready to breakdown the Detroit Lions schedule Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which has to be the leagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most difficult down the stretch with the Giants, Cowboys, Packers twice and Chargers on the road. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not ready to worry about the New York Giants who face a tough two-game road trip to Chicago and Philadelphia and end against a Patriots team possibly playing for an unbeaten season.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll stay focused on the Chicago Bears team that has to win the game Sunday they have failed to win all season long. Coming off a wonderful win in Green Bay, they let Adrian Peterson light Soldier Field on fire. Coming off the miracle drive in Philadelphia, their offense took the bye week seven days early. Now coming off the life-support touchdown pass by Rex Grossman, the Bears must go into hostile coffee country and beat a Seattle Seahawks team thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s terrific in their own building.
The questions are many. Are the Bears capable of stringing together back-to-back wins for the first time? Is the Chicago defense allowing less than 13 points a game over the last three the defense weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been waiting to see all year? Can the offense be consistent for the entirety of a ballgame?
Debate can be had (and I know it will) but the questions will each be answered Sunday. If the Bears win, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll find themselves in the thick of the NFC playoff race. A loss relegates them to the role of spoilers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ undoubtedly needing to go perfect the rest of the way to even have a shot. Sunday is the Super Bowl. Every Sunday is from now on. And just like the last Super Bowl, winning is going to have a lot to do with how #8 plays.
It was an excruciating three quarters of football played in northern California yesterday and it seemed we were watching the last gasps of breath be drained from the Chicago Bears season. I looked around Josie Woods Pub and realized that the gang of hundreds who filled the joint in February had eroded back to the originals. I kept looking to the Bears sideline for Dick Jauron.
But then there he was. Rex Grossman. And the game changed. After a turn-your-head-from-the-screen-in-embarrassment fumbled snap, he came alive and the Bears started playing with fire (everyone except for our disgusting excuse for a starting running back). The bar seemed to come alive: part out of the humor of the situation and part out of GrossmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own presence on the field. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no way of denying that Rex Grossman single-handedly woke the Chicago Bears offense from the mire of a two-game malaise. The debate has been reborn. Rick MorrisseyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s aptly titled Redemption of Rex in the Trib countered well (actually) by MariottiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plea to leave Rex in the backup role. Our humble little site will be inundated with pro-Rex, anti-Rex and this week, why not? How much can we say about how impressive Trumaine McBride has been at cornerback?
Rex starts Sunday. And not because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to lead the Bears to an undefeated second half and a glorious postseason run. Rex starts Sunday because Brian Griese is Brian Griese and we can pray to every shooting star in the vast night sky but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to change. GrossmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s downside is as notorious as Big Boy Caprice but his ability to rally the guys on that offense is indisputable, strange as that may seem.
And moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Rex Grossman is damn good theatre. And when a team isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to win a championship, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take great entertainment like him any day of the week
We gotta talk. Yeah, we won and man, we'll take it. We'll take anything this season because we need to kick and scratch ourselves out of this hole.
But a three-quarter plus field goal-fest, a "who can get to our QB' sieve offense line, and a 'make way for Maynard at the whirlpool' because his leg hurts from all the punting, is not what we had in mind and it just doesn't cut it.
So Lovie, congratz on the win. Thank God for the 4th Quarter breaks (and the wild risk taking by Oakland)- but realize we are dangling at the end of our rope and we've tied a knot in it to hang on, our hands are cramping and our knuckles are turning white.
Yeah, we're a die hard Bear fans all wanting to carry this win (but not the game plan) into next weeks Seattle's game and then to string a few wins together. But mostly, we want to dominate again. So Lovie, ya gotta do something here!
-- Midway Monster --
I started liking the Chicago Bears as a thing just sprung from the womb, born into a title and a legend that still haunts this beleaguered franchise. I started loving the football team several years later - at the tail end of the Ditka years and through the fabled coaching tenures of the mustache and the mouse. I don't go back to Butkus and Sayers. I don't go back to Luckman and 73-0. Even though I've watched every game of the '85 season and Super Bowl XX about ten times a year, I've never woken up on Monday morning and known my team is the world champion. That's what drives these columns. That's what makes me look forward to each and every Sunday. That's why I'm still not recovered from the pick six to put us down 12 in February. That's why this season hurts.
But what can we do? We stay positive until the positives just don't add up anymore. Look at the teams logically in the wild card race: Detroit, Giants, Redskins, Saints. The Bears won't get another crack at Detroit but they get every other team. If the Bears want to make the playoffs, the playoffs are there to be made. You want to talk about playoffs (PLAYOFFS!?) - then let's talk about playoffs. The playoffs start Sunday in Oakland. If the Chicago Bears don't lose another football game this season, they'll play in January.
CHICAGO BEARS 29
OAKLAND RAIDERS 16
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
1. I always like the Chicago Bears.
2. Because it's the law straw game. If they don't come out and play a complete football game Sunday, we're not going to see one this season. With two weeks to prepare for a bad team, the Bears should be playing a meaningless fourth quarter.
3. Lane Kiffin wants to kick to Devin Hester. Sounds good to me. That's a lot like saying, "We're going to double team Scottie Pippen and make Michael Jordan beat us."
4. The Raiders don't have the offensive weaponry to capitalize on the Bears defensive weaknesses, namely a big offensive line or world class receivers. The Bears should be able to force short fields all day and I wouldn't be surprised to see Robbie Gould kick five fieldgoals.
5. Because a loss Sunday would put a period at the end of a terrible sentence and I just don't believe this team will go into the night this soon. There are too many guys who want it to give it away so easily.
A bad offensive line just got weaker as the Bears have put Ruben Brown on IR. I'm not an expert on offensive line play by any means but from my eyes Brown was having the only standout year on the line. Broadcasters have praised his play on numerous occasions in each of the past three games.
Terry Metcalf will move into the starting guard spot.
I'll be back tomorrow with my forecast for Sunday. The question remains: will I pick against the Bears for the first time in this site's history?
If you had told me before the season that I'd have lost interest in the Chicago Bears before they play their ninth game I would have called you a fucking lunatic. But you would have been right. And as I sit here on Tuesday night trying to find something meaningful to write about, I realize its impossible. For the first time in over two years, the Chicago Bears are playing a meaningless football game.
The Bears can still turn their season around, mind you, and I pray to God that they do. But Sunday means nothing. The Bears are 3-5 and FAVORED by a fieldgoal on the road. What does that say about the Oakland Raiders? If the Bears dominate Sunday (which they won't) it will be treated with a chorus of "it's about time." If they lose (which is possible)...be honest...would you be surprised?
If the Bears do win Sunday and have a chance to get to .500 next week, I'll bring back my signature optimism. But for the next five days, I'm going to keep it in my satchel. Mike Francesca has a rule about taking baseball teams seriously. "Talk to me when they get to .500." In other words, let's talk November 18th.
Sundays continue to be a depressing day for Chicago Bears fans even when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re sitting at home nursing their arthritic backs ailing groins. At 1:00 ET, the Packers, Vikings and Lions each won ballgames Ã¢â‚¬â€œ pushing the Bears deep into the whine cellar of the NFC North. Not to get too literary on everybody, but if this were a Poe story, somebody would be bricking the team in as we speak.
But it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the wins that made this day depressing; or rather it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t only the wins. Today the myth of an era of dominance was proven untrue. The Chicago Bears have had their two years at the top of the division and if theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re interested in returning, none of the other three teams in the division look too interested in regression. Today we learned.
Today we learned that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no way Brett Favre is retiring at the end of this season. Why? (1) HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still playing in the upper tier of quarterbacks in this league. (2) The receiving corps of Driver, Jones, Jennings and Lee is starting to gel and the addition of Koren Robinson is only making them better in the air. (3) The defense isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t great but it can hold its own with any in the conference. This team is running back away from a trip back to the Super Bowl.
Today we learned that Barry Sanders has officially returned to the NFC North. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL today. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better than Tomlinson. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better than Johnson. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better than all of them. If the Minnesota Vikings find a quarterback (and we all know they will before we do), weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all in a lot of trouble.
Today we learned the Detroit Lions Ã¢â‚¬â€œ barring a huge second half meltdown Ã¢â‚¬â€œ are going to the postseason, holding true on the promise of Jesus Kitna. The Lions have become a very good football team with two brilliant young receivers. The upside? When Kitna canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play anymore, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll need a quarterback. The downside? If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re keeping score at home, the Bears are now three full games (plus a tiebreaker) down to the Lions with 8 to play. That leaves them chasing the New York Giants for the final spot in the playoffs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who they already trail by three full games but play the first weekend in December. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re rooting for the postseason, then its simple: the Bears must win and the Giants must lose. Just about every single week.
But a quick writer's note: This is not a column stating the Bears will finish last for the next decade. This is a column stating the Bears squandered their opportunity to establish dominance over a flailing division by putting faith in a novice quarterback, gutless running back and aging offensive line. The Bears donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to rebuild or lose out for a good draft pick. They need to win each and every week and give these teams hell down the stretch. Now, when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re basically out of the reach of the postseason, is when IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll judge this football team.
I hate when a Sunday comes and goes without a change in the standings for the Chicago Bears but the way this season has gone, the bye comes at the perfect time. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what a Bears fan will be watching with his Chris Zorich navy 97 neatly packed away in a drawer. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll start with the ESPN-proclaimed Super Bowl XLI Ã‚Â½.
THE BEST FOOTBALL TEAMS IN THE WORLD
I made a pact with myself on Monday morning not to watch ESPN this week and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kept this terrific game from the ramshackle Sean Salisbury / Mark Schlereth debates and Skip Bayless letting us know whether heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to start his franchise with Brady or Manning. Contrary to Steve YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s idiotic pronouncement that this game doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter, it certainly does.
(1) How many times do the two absolutely, undisputed best teams in a sport play at the peak of their abilities? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happening Sunday at 4:15 ET and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a twelve pack of Schlitz in the cooler. (2) The winner of this game is going to coast to home field advantage throughout. The loser is going to have the unenviable task of beating the Chargers in the divisional round and then going on the road to get to the Super Bowl. (3) The trick to building a great NFL franchise in the free agency period is impossibly simple. Develop terrific offensive and defensive systems wherein the parts are interchangeable and put a great player under center. These two teams are the model.
IF YOUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢RE SILLY LIKE ME AND STILL THINKING PLAYOFFSÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
You want Denver to beat Detroit, San Diego to beat Minnesota and the Jets to beat Washington. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also not mind Jacksonville over New Orleans, Kansas City over Green Bay and Tennessee over Carolina. You want to know how bad the NFC is? If Detroit loses, the Bears are only two games back of the wild card.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE GUY THROWING THE BALL
A couple of early candidates to be playing in Chicago next season are starting this weekend. J.P. Losman is a big arm guy with nice mobility and is clearly going to be looking for a job as the Bills forward with Trent Edwards. Derek Anderson looks like the real deal in Cleveland but organizational pressure may force Romeo to go with Brady Quinn next year. For the Bears sake, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hope so.
AND IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN MAKING SOME MONEY...
Denver +3 over Detroit
New Orleans vs. Jacksonville under 40
Arizona + 3 Ã‚Â½ over Tampa Bay