Random News: A Bears season about nothing?

Random News: A Bears season about nothing?

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
12:51 p.m.

By Joe Collins

Moments after the last episode of Seinfeld aired on May 14, 1998, critics blasted the performance. TV and entertainment pundits labeled it as a shabby, weak performance that wasted a lot of potential. The living room onlookers thought the same, saying that it never came close to meeting expectations. My reaction was the same.

But every time that I have watched that final episode in syndicated rerun form, I have come to respect it a little more. No, not because the episode was funny (it's still lukewarm compared to, say, any episode from the '94-'95 season), but because of what it represented: an unexpected smash hit that had sustained success for quite some time -- much longer than anyone, including their competitors, had predicted.

You know, kind of like this Bears season.

People didn't take Seinfeld seriously until the fourth season, and even that wasn't saying much because the show barely dented the top 30 in Nielsen's weekly rankings that year. In the fifth season (midseason in football terms, if you will), the show took off. The Bears had a somewhat similar fate. Their season began as "a show about nothing," more or less. Vegas gave them a 401 chance on winning the Super Bowl. Not exactly a lot of expectations right off the bat. Then the Bears got a season-opening win against the Lions thanks to a fluke call. The 3-0 start didn't do much to get people excited, especially after a crushing defeat in New York the week after. Two losses going into the bye week didn't help either. Then the Bears took off: five straight wins, including a convincing victory over the Eagles. A first place title in the NFC North followed, followed by a home playoff victory against Seattle.

Then all hell broke loose. The Bears lost their starting quarterback, lost the game, lost the shot at the Super Bowland some fans lost their minds in the process -- especially when Todd Collins started taking snaps. Talk about entering the bizarro world, you know? Jay Cutler immediately took the role of Newman (fair or not) and 20 hours of injury PR damage control ensued. Tweets and Facebook status updates blew up at several points during the game:
The Bears (stink)! We are who they thought they were!"That bike won't get you to Dallas, Jay!"You guys are ruining it for Chicago and everybody else south of Wisconsin!"Put Moses Moreno in!Epic failurethanks for choking!

The Bears stink? Seriously? An epic failure? Really? Im not sure if I buy all that. Based on the social network updates, you would have thought the Bears were 1-15. The Twitterverse was also on fire just after video surfaced of Jay Cutlers jersey getting, ahem, torched. Have we all lost our minds?

We have become a society that is so reactionary, so irritable, so -- pardon the pun -- knee-jerk when it comes to the way we respond to certain stimuli in the sports world. Lets face it: the Bears, a great team, were beaten by the an even better one on Sunday. No question about it. Tip your hat and salute our northern neighbors. Did we forget that the Bears were playing with house money since the first game this season? It is said that, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Yes, the Bears were goodgreat even. The offensive line rebounded after a horrendous start. The running game was solid and the passing game eventually found rhythm. The defense dominated at times. The special teams unit was nothing short of elite. But how many strokes of luck did they get this year? 10? 20? How many times can a team claim they went up against threethreethird string quarterbacks? And even if Cutler hadnt injured his knee, do you think he could have carried the already-wounded Bears to the promised land? Im not so sureespecially the way the Packers Ginsued their way through the Bears defense in the first half. The Bears could have easily been down 21-0 or worseheading into halftime.

The Bears had a great season. It was a nice run. The last game was a stink bomb. And I know that the exit from the playoffs was a painful one, especially given the opponent. The hype was tremendous and the loss was nothing short of ulcer-causing. But we need to realize that the Bears had a great season that completely surpassed expectations. When you were watching the Bears stagger through a winless preseason, did you envision them in the NFC Championship? When you saw Cutler get squeegeed by the Giants defense in the Meadowlands, did you think the Bears would be a late drive (or two) away from a ticket to Dallas?

One can only hope the Bears answer the call next year. The pressure to win will be enormous. Anything less than an NFC Championship would be considered a failure. But if this Bears team has shown us anything, its resiliency and the power to overcome any kind of adversityespecially from us in the media that sunk the team at 6-10 before they took one regular season snap. We should look back at this season, not with anger at the finale, but with joy on a run that few thought possible. I know that's easier said than done today, especially with Bears fans questioning the leadership of the starring role behind center. The Bears -- and especially Cutler -- can and should rebound. Let's hope, anyway.

Maybe they will start off with a few wins next year andyada yada yadatheyre in the Super Bowl.

Stay tuned.

Or something like that.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.” 

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.