Do you realize that the 2012 season, still more than three months away but it already is all but assured of making one group of watchers happy no matter how it comes out?
Heres how that works:
If the Bears do well, as in the third consecutive 10-6 or better assessment of CSNChicago.com (the 2010 call was right; the 2011 one was as well at 7-3 before Jay Cutler went down), the majority of Chicago will be generally happy. Players and coaches dont always get this, but Chicago wants to love its Bears.
The over-under point for the Bears is 8.5 wins, which has the faint feel of a suckers bet since the Bears won eight games last season without Cutler for six games, Matt Forte for almost five and Brandon Marshall for any.
Nothing is ever assured in the NFL, including the Bears improving from last season. So a team that should win 10 or 11 could wind up losing that many; just ask Mike Ditkas last team (5-11 in 1992 from 11-5 in 1991).
That fall from grace was enough to get Ditka fired despite playoffs the previous two and seven of the previous eight seasons. Obviously, if the Bears miss the playoffs for the fifth time in the six seasons since Super Bowl XLI, Lovie Smith wont be back for a 10th season (Ditka had 11).
That would make happy the Smith-haters who didnt think Smith deserved any more of a pass on last seasons collapse than Jerry Angelo got.
Gregg Rosenthal over at NFL.com is the latest to note the obvious that Smith is under immediate pressure to win, something made amply apparent in post-Angelo-firing remarks by George McCaskey and Ted Phillips and even more so in the hiring of Phil Emery.
Either way, somebody will be happy with the way this season turns out.
Smith signed a two-year contract extension in February 2011, running through the 2013 season. Matters will get interesting should the Bears go, say, 10-6 but dont make the playoffs.
Could happen. The 2008 Patriots went 11-5 and missed. The 2010 Buccaneers and Giants went 10-6 and missed, then New York went 9-7 last season and won the Super Bowl.
Then what do the Bears do?