‘Vanilla’ Approach a Definitive Advantage
Neil Hayes writes a very interesting column in the Sun-Times today, claiming the Bears gained a significant advantage by almost pulling a Week Seventeen upset over the Packers while instituting a vanilla scheme.
His players gave every ounce of effort on the field. Smith even risked injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and other prominent starters but left them in the game until the bitter end. What the Bears coach didn’t tell you, however, is that his staff didn’t game-plan for that game like they will prepare for the rubber match in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on Sunday.
While Hayes doesn’t have any direct quotes from organizational insiders or coaches, I think it was apparent to anyone who has watched this team that on that day, the game plan was very much vanilla. (Unless you believe Rashied Davis is their number one weapon on the offensive side of the ball.) I still maintain that the risk/reward of playing all the starters on the final Sunday was not worth it but if the Bears come out and play an inspired, dominant game this weekend and cite Week Seventeen as a reason, I may be willing to admit I was wrong. Hell, if the Bears win Sunday I’ll admit I had a hand in the Madoff scandal.
Turf is the Essence of the Home Field Advantage in Chicago
Rick Morrissey, who seems to be coming around to this 2010 Bears season, writes eloquently and poetically about the grass at Soldier Field. The Bears fans, the so-called 4th Phase, are usually as quick to boo the navy and orange as cheer them. The weather may be fun but the Patriots and Jets offenses sure didn’t mind throwing the ball for huge chunks of yardage in it. The turf is the equalizer, slowing down speed threats from beating the LoveRod Deuce deep and preventing big, physical receivers from making precise cuts on the slants routes that have killed this system for seven years.
The Aaron Rodgers Ignores Cancer Patient Thing
So if you don’t know the story, here it is. Aaron Rodgers was walking through an airport and a woman suffering from cancer approached him for an autograph and he snubbed her. Mike Florio picked up on the story at PFT and launched a pointed character attack on Rodgers’ until-now flawless image. Subsequently the woman has expressed regret over Rodgers dealing with the criticism, claiming he’d signed autographs for her in the past. You know what I think? I think if this Lifetime drama starred Jay Cutler instead of Aaron Rodgers, it’d be front page news on ESPN and every one of those windbags on The Score would be using it as their rallying cry to root for the Packers this weekend. This may not be a big deal but it proves that our sports media is quite selective as to which scandals they’d like to cover and which they chose to ignore.
Lovie Smith: Getting a Bit Tough?
When Smith was asked about the Packers injuries this season, he responded soundly with “All teams have injuries.” The Packers have been flying the Injuries Flag for months and I’m tired of hearing it. Lovie followed that up with some of his most candid comments in a long, long while:
“We don’t like each other. You don’t have to be in love with someone, or you can have some dislike, and not put it out in the media everyday. Believe me, there’s not a whole lot of love for us coming up north.”
I can’t lie. I like it. I like an honest, angry Lovie Smith. And I hope it translates to the field on Sunday.