What I’ve Learned About Fans (and NFL Conversation) Over the Last Week

| March 17th, 2023

Twitter has been a wild place since Monday morning, and arguably since its inception. But Elon’s “For You” function has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me because that feed seems to understand my uncontrollable desire to watch cats do ANYTHING while also thinking I care even SLIGHTLY about the World Baseball Classic. It’s an emotional maelstrom, replete with an equal number of “Awww” and “Who the hell is Tim Anderson” outbursts. The stream also highlights the Tweets of many Bears fans I do not follow and do not know and their moment-to-moment responses to this free agency has been…interesting. (Full disclosure: I have started muting and blocking most of them.)

What have I learned?

  • Most fans care way more about your ability to break a scoop than your ability to put together a great sentence, which for a writer is more than mildly dejecting. 75% of Tweets from fans are asking writers and media what they hear about potential future transactions. I’ve more than doubled my follower total since I got in the scoop business, and I can’t wait to be out of it.
  • There are numerous fans on the platform who can name the 13th best running back in the 2023 NFL Draft but can’t name a single starting offensive lineman in the AFC South. How does this happen? 15-20% of the players drafted in April will be relevant in the league. 100% of those AFC South linemen are relevant in the league.
  • The phrase “off-ball linebacker” needs to be retired. Tremaine Edmunds was signed by the Bears to a large contract specifically because of his ability to impact the football. He’s not a downhill, hole plugger like Lance Briggs. He’s a monstrous speedster, great in a coverage, whose range and length impacts throwing lanes as well as any linebacker in the league.
    • And I say this as someone who hasn’t missed a Bills game in several years. I had a business relationship with the head of Bills Mafia. One of my best friends is a die hard, and another close friend works in their building. I know that roster as well as I know the one in Chicago.
  • The battle has been waged and PFF has won. So many fans, and now media members, use their absurd grades in arguments now. These grades have zero value in NFL front offices but that doesn’t seem to matter in the public debate. PFF is in the bloodstream.
  • Every single starter on the 2022 Eagles offense was acquired via the draft, with AJ Brown being acquired with draft picks. Yet fans still think you can buy your way out of the basement in free agency. Bears fans on Twitter really wanted the Bears to buy a dozen new starters. When has that ever worked in the sport?
  • In the “what have you done for me lately” department: it has been amazing how many fans simply moved on from the DJ Moore acquisition, the most important acquisition made by any team this off-season. Moore is a veritable Number One receiver, and the consensus is one of those was not available in FA or the draft.
  • Two things that are driving much of the debate re: the Bears, and neither are surprising.
    • Fan obsession with Justin Fields. For many of these social media folks, arguing about Fields on the platforms is a full-time job. Poles not overpaying for a mid-level right tackle is considered a personal insult by many of these folks.
    • Fan belief in the quick turnaround. Can the Bears win the NFC North? Yep. Lions are currently +160, Vikings +275, Bears +330 and Packers +400 to win it. It is a crap shoot. But this will not be a championship-contending roster, even with a remarkable draft class. This is the year where the club/program needs to show significant progress and play meaningful games in the second half of the schedule.

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