Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 5:00 p.m.
By John Mullin
Mmmm, maybe not
I don't have a rooting interest one way or the other but I'm not sure I'm buying this.
SI.com's Andrew Perloff, in a segment folded into Peter King's always-enjoyable (if a little heavy on Steelers-Ravens this week) "Monday Morning Quarterback," opines that the Packers will win the NFC North and simply are a better team than the Bears, which Andrew still sees making the playoff and being "dangerous," he said.
Andrew's reasoning: The Packers "have that explosiveness on offense," whereas the Bears are "not making the plays like the Packers are."
He appears to be more fascinated by highlight play like Aaron Rodgers' memorable game-tying pass to Jordy Nelson to force a recent overtime against Atlanta. Andrew sees the "new" Bears as more balanced offensively with the combination of Jay Cutler's passing and Matt Forte's running.
But "when it comes down to it," he concluded, "Rodgers is the MVP and Cutler is just a good player."
You who know me know I am a reporter first and that I had no vested or rooting interest when I pointed out the night of the DenverCutler trade that a restrained reaction might be the call since Cutler had never had a winning season as a starting quarterback since high school.
But right now, he is a very good player, which he was not last season or through the first half of this one aside from isolated situations. I would be concerned about the number of hits Cutler is taking (48 in the last five games, between sacks, QB hits and runs he's made).
But the fact that Cutler is being called a "game manager" (usually a diss of a quarterback) should -- and I think is -- sending a tiny shiver through at least the NFC North. As long as he was just a thrower, even a passer, he could be counted on to error away the moment.
Not any more. The Packers could well win the division but my guess is that it'll be by tiebreaker, in which the Bears, who'll make good my "10 wins or better" prediction for the season, will be the wild-card team absolutely nobody wants to play.
As he has on a number of occasions in the past when he's unhappy with the play of his guys, Lovie Smith let them know about it at halftime Sunday. The particular target was the defense, which was coming in after allowing a third-string quarterback to direct the Detroit offense to 253 first-half yards.
Clipboards did not hit walls, fists did not hit lockers, and players like Julius Peppers seemed to be more stunned by the poor play of the defense than by the Smith equivalent of a hissing match.
But just as players once spoke of "The Look" they dreaded getting from Dick Jauron, they don't like to hear Smith deviate from his fairly constant volume and venom levels.
"He was still mild-mannered but maybe instead of talking at a '5' he's talking at a '9,'" said safety Chris Harris. "Lovie is not a guy who swears. He's still a mild-mannered guy. But when he's angry you know he's angry. His point comes across and gets across to the players the way it should."
Smith's reaction to his reaction was, well, mild-mannered, naturally.
"We weren't happy with how we played the first half," Smith explained. "Guys realized that. As far as the '9,' you media guys know me. I'm a '5' most of the time. I try to be."
I'm still amused by some who view the Bears' 2010 results (12 games of them at this point) as "lucky" or "getting the breaks." It calls to mind former Mets and White Sox pitcher Jerry Koosman dismissing former teammate and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver as just "lucky."
"Seaver was just lucky," Koosman said, "because he was always pitching on the day when the other team wasn't hitting."
A few other observations on the whole "lucky" nonsense:
Bear Bryant's legendary proclamation the "Luck follows speed" definitely applies to the Bears, who are a universally fast team.
And my favorite James Bond assessment comes into play: "Once is chance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action." Lucky is once; oh-come-on is twice; 9-3 is not lucky.
I'll be on the Comcast SportsNet set for Chicago Tribune Live at 5:30 p.m. (and later rebroadcasts) but then I'll be on CSNChicago.com from 7-8 p.m. for our weekly online chat. Always fun (well, mostly) to noodle over what just happened the day before.
And absolutely, I'll have the Pats-Jets on at the same time.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.