Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
By Frankie O
Its the ultimate question isnt it? We ask it about others and sometimes even ourselves. While we dont have enough time or space here for me to ponder this question about myself, I have spent considerable time trying to figure what this question means as it pertains to my professional football, um, rooting interests.
Its what the first four weeks of the regular season are for. Now that we can put the preseason behind us, (Good thing we used all of the things we learned there! I love how people use a teams performance during half-speed time to predict regular season results. Indy was 0-4. Detroit 3-1. Houston 1-3. And Im sure you remember the Bears staggering through a 0-4 summer. Did any of this predict what we see now? I always find preseason prognostication as a waste of time. Do you know how many of the local experts picked the Bears last year as a double-digit winner and playoff team? How about every one of the ones I read or talked to. Why watch the preseason? Just drink your Kool-aid, then make your picks!) its time to try and figure out the truths, and the illusions, that are in front of us. Of course, as always, I do this for conversational purposes only!
How could I not start with the Bears? Has 2-0 ever felt this good? Well as a matter of fact, it has felt much better. The last time the Bears started out this well, 2006, they went to the Super Bowl. That team though had a lot of expectations. They were coming off of a playoff appearance and had a dominant defense that was in its prime. This team? Well, with the stench of the last two campaigns still not totally removed, theres more apprehension than expectation for this team. They have a maddening ability to pull the rug from out of under you every time that you start to believe.
One difference this year is Jay Cutler. Last year at this time, Cutler-mania was in full bloom. The team started out 3-1 (after a 3-1 preseason!) and all was great. Wasnt it? After a horrid 4-pick effort in the opener, a loss, he had a 7-1 TD to interception ratio in the next 3 games, all wins, so the natural summation was that he was headed, along with the team, to the promised land. We all know how that turned out. But as we watched, there was a feeling that thing were not all good. There was just a feeling that the team was not as good as its record. And in spite of some of his success, Cutler did not seem to always be on the same page with his receivers, or he was just plain reckless with the ball. 26 interceptions later, we saw how that played out.
I know its still early, but Im going to go out on a limb and say that Cutlers results are going to be different this year. Im still not sold on the O-lines ability to protect him, but he has a different feel to him this year. I think all of the negativity, following a summer of love upon his arrival here, has had an effect. I think hes motivated to make amends and reclaim his status as a golden-boy. This also includes his interactions with a media that he disdains. Ive not seen many guys, who just because of their personality, get so much scorn and ill will with media members. I know that we all are entertained by Peyton Manning and his sense of humor, which is on display in many places, but what makes him Peyton Manning is his ability to lead a football team.
3-13 quarterbacks are just not funny or lovable. Combine this desire with an offensive coordinator, who I think gets him, and also gets aggressive, pass-oriented football, and I think that good things are in store for this Bears team on the offensive side of the ball.
On the defensive side, I dont know if I feel as good. Big win and thats what its all about, but giving up 410 yards is giving up 410 yards. Much will be made of the swagger and big hits, but is that enough to stop Aaron Rogers? What you have to like is that in spite of the amount of yards given up, it was bend-but-dont-break, only yielding 1 defensive touchdown.
Also, in what I think will be the most telling stat for the defense all year, were the 3 turnovers created. Turnovers have a way of negating yardage and also get into the head of an opponent. They also are supposed to be a trademark of a Lovie Smith defense. In this defining year of Smiths tenure here, they better come in abundance.
So who are the Bears? Do any of us know? This is the NFL and that stands for: Not For Long. Things we see now may not be what they appear. One thing for sure though, a home Monday Night game against the Packers, with both teams 2-0, should be the barometer we need. 3-0 would be time for everyone to hop on the Bears express. Who are you?