Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This is this week's comment from the DVOA's for the Chargers: "That's about as bad as their quarterback can play, and they won the game convincingly. Super Bowl, here we come."

This is a comment about the Bears from a few weeks ago: "Here's my opinion on the Chicago quarterback controversy: Brian Griese is going to be much more consistent than Rex Grossman. But just as the lows won't be as low, the highs won't be as high. The Bears have almost no chance of winning the Super Bowl if Evil Rex shows up during the playoffs, but their deep passing game becomes useless with Griese under center. To win it all, the Bears need to figure out how to get the Good Rex every week."

Fuck. You. Football. Sportswriters. Everywhere. The only reason that everyone is raving about how awesome San Diego is that they can when even when their new great quarterback sucks it up like a giant black hole is that there isn't there isn't a big media frenzy about whether or not Rivers's backup (who is who, exactly? exactly.) should be starting in his place. Well, maybe that and LaDanian Tomlinson. But, anyway, because the Chicago sportswriters are fucking d-bags and think the only way to cover a team is to act at all times like it is falling apart unless it's blowing away all of its opponents by thirty points, because that, they write all this useless shit about how Grossman needs to be benched because he had some bad games, which then makes it so the Bears coaches have to address that bullshit in press conferences so then national writers and tv folks use those as their cues to talk about it like its actually an issue, which of course then managed to visibly eat away at Grossman's confidence until he almost literally shit his pants on the field against Minnesota, so then instead of people talking about how incredible the Bears defense and special teams are and that they have a solid enough running game now that they actually have a fucking offense for the first time since like 1993, all anyone says is that they probably can't win the Super Bowl with Rex as their quarterback because he's not a great quarterback. Bullshit.

It is probably true that the only team with a similar shot at winning the Super Bowl this year as the Bears is the San Diego. And both teams are in that position because the entire teams are really good so it just doesn't matter all that much if the quarterback has an off day. Any part of either team can win a game for the team.

I don't know why, but I've never been so pissed off about sports coverage as I am this week. I haven't read any article, anywhere, talking about how now that the Bears have given themselves home field through the playoffs they've done everything they could've done up to this point to give them a good shot through to the super bowl. It would not matter if they'd won every single game that they've won by two hundred points and if they'd not given up a single yard in any of those games. Their defense has been dominating most of the time that it has needed to be, and even when it wasn't dominating it has been one of the top three defenses in the league. Their special teams has actually won a few games for them, which is probably more than any other team in the league could hope for. And their offense has even chipped in a few times. All of that adds up, quite reasonably, to the best record in the league.

Yes. The Bears can be beaten. But why is it that being a beatable team means, for the Bears, that they are actually terrible and don't deserve to have their record, whereas other teams are allowed to be beatable and destined for the Super Bowl at the same time? AAAUUUGGGHHH!!! Why are sportswriters all so goddamn worthless!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Every single one of the Tribune's and the Sun-Times' columnists write today that the Bears need to cut/fire/nix/git rid of Tank Johnson. Aside from the fact that sportswriters tend to relish every opportunity to take the "moral high ground" and condemn the players they write about, I don't quite understand why they're all so uppity about the Tank thing. Yes, he had a bunch of guns that he failed to procure a license for, although the licenses that he didn't have are licenses that aren't even required by most states. They weren't purchases illegally or anything; it's just that Illinois has this extra gun-licensing thing and he didn't get that license. If he lived in Utah, people would by getting ready to storm the police station if they tried to charge a guy for gun possession--except that he's black, so, who knows... His only other crime was having a pot-smoking friend and owning some pitbulls... I mean, yeah, all of it might seem kind of stupid if you're an educated urbane white guy, but none of it is actually illegal, or even, really, in violation of any moral standards, either. I mean, Ricky Manning Jr. actually helped his friends beat up a guy, and there was nothing like this journalistic outcry for his head.

It seems weirdest to me that the fact that Johnson's friend got killed is being written about as clinching proof that the Bears need to get rid of him, even though the police have gone out of their way to state that it appears Johnson had nothing to do with the shooting. I suppose it probably just makes them feel better to write about how Johnson is a terrible person as they reflect on the fact that they themselves aren't friends with any black felons and they don't go to those types of clubs... I mean, just look at this garbage:

"The team employs nutritionists, masseuses, security guards and all sorts of other personnel intended to meet their players' every need. They could use more baby-sitters.

They need to consider restricting the independence of players who lose the benefit of the doubt the way Johnson did after he was arrested twice before Thursday's incident. Johnson evidently is not as equipped to handle adulthood as many of his teammates. It's one thing to tell him to just grow up. It's another to show him how.

The shooting death early Saturday morning of Posey, who described himself as Johnson's bodyguard, sadly reinforced how concerned the Bears need to be about the company Johnson keeps."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm still pulling for SF to win their division. And with their convincing victory over Seattle, it could still happen! Now all SF has to do is beat Arizona, which shouldn't be a problem, and then beat Denver, which would be a little tougher, but Denver won't be playing for anything since they'll likely be out of wild card contention at that point (cross fingers!). Also, Seattle has to lose to San Diego, who'll be playing to clinch home-field in the playoffs, and then they have to lose to Tampa... That last one is probably the most unlikely, and I'd really hate to see Seattle win their division because they beat a shitty team like Tampa... but, then again, they are playing at Tampa, and that's a pretty long trip to make, and I wouldn't put it past Seattle to lose to pretty much anyone... I don't know why I want this to happen so badly, but, for some reason, I just hate Seattle this year...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Um... so Tank had a bunch of guns that he didn't properly obtain a permit for, and he kept some of them loaded and without proper safety things, etc., and possibly was shooting them in his backyard. So, um, he's kinda dumb and he loves guns, and apparently is too stupid to bother buying the guns by legal means, or to file the proper paperwork or whatever. But, um, why is the Chicago press acting like this is the hugest deal ever, but they were pretty silent about Ricky Manning Jr. actually beating up a guy for no reason? And also, people on the message boards seem angrier about this than they did about Manning. Um. What?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This is from the FO forums, about the possibility of putting Hester in on offense as well: "They should just replace their entire offense with their kick/punt return unit whenever Evil Rex shows up. The long snapper could just hike the ball deep to Hester on each play! Think about it! He would even get three chances." The funniest thing about it is that it almost seems like an actually good idea...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In the middle of the Dallas NO game it has just occured to me that there really isn't a team in the NFC that is capable of beating the bears. NO is crushing Dallas because the NO offence is pretty good and the Dallas defence isn't great. These are the two other best teams but their both good because of offence. The great thing about the Bears is that their defence is simply amazing. No one can put up more than 20 points on them and if they have to they can score 21 with help from Hester. The AFC is a little more tricky because New England and Baltimore have very good defences, not as good as the Bears but close enough that Chicago might need a competent offence, at least one that can stay on the field and punt, to beat them. The NFC is a complete lock though, the Bears are already in the Super Bowl. The only question will be if Rex can settle down and get them there or if Griese will have to do it.
I have a good feeling about Grossman as well. The thing I don't like is that we have no idea how practice has looked for Grossman the last month. It would be nice to know if he's struggling all the time or only on game days. It sounds to me, based upon last week's interviews that he spent all week struggling before the Minnesota game. I think this because no one really sounded like they were too surprised with his performance. It was as if they knew that he had been feeling pressure and simply wasn't playing like he had been and it sounded like he was really questioning what was going on, why he sucked. Turner said after the first practice this week that Grossman had had a very loose and good practice so hopefully that has continued. My prediction is that the day off watching early-season film combined with last weekend's total collapse will have Rex playing without pressure. I think that he'll feel like he just needs to play and if he's good he'll do well if not he simply isn't good enough to finish out the season.

Either way this season has been amazing, but most of the actual games have been weirdly boring because I absolutely believe that the Bears will be in the superbowl and it's almost like the games don't matter because I already know the result. All year it's been like the games are on delay and the score already flashed on the bottom of screen.

As if out of an attempt to hold my prediction bravado in check, last night I had a dream that Grossman went out against the Rams, threw two passes for two touchdowns, and after the second one he was hit by a lineman and ended up lying on the ground with with both of his knees bent completely backwards. And then Griese went on to dominate the Rams for the rest of the game. So... I guess now we get to find out whether my intuition or my dreams have the greater predictive power!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not for any reason other than that I have a "feeling" about it, I'm going to go ahead and call Monday's game to be a huge rebound game for Grossman. Mainly because, there's not really any way a quarterback could have a worse game than he had last week, so he's got to have realized he's basically hit bottom, and also that he's just really not actually that bad, so he doesn't really have anything to lose. I'm imagining him throwing an interception on the first drive of the game because of some weird fluke, and then suddenly it will click again. The last three quarters of the game will look like the first halves of the games against the Bills and the 49ers. That's what I see happening.

It's funny, because there's no way that anything could possibly convince me that that won't happen until the game actually happens. It's one of those weird things where I just feel like it's an objective fact, even though I have no really good reason to believe that it's true. Exactly like the belief I've had since they lost to the Panthers in the playoffs last year that they are going to win the Super Bowl this year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Bears have a two game lead over the entire NFC and if Dallas beats NO sunday they have the tie breaker over any team that is two games behind allowing them to loose two games without dropping in the standings. Rex Grossman is the quarterback unless he has three turnovers that are definitely his fault in the first half of any game until they loose or, more likely, clinch homefield in the NFC. Lovie knows that this defence and special teams are the best in the leauge and can probably win any of their remaining regardless of the offence. Lovie has the luxury of allowing Rex at least two more games to prove he can still play. If Rex sucks the move to Griese will be made for the final two games of the season ensuring homefield in the NFC or just allowing Griese to work the rust off.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Possibly the most worthwhile thing Aaron Schatz has ever said about the Bears? "I'm sure he's a nice fellow, but is it possibly time to question Wade Wilson's qualifications as a quarterback coach? In three years in Chicago, he's had bad middle-aged quarterbacks (Jonathan Quinn), bad young quarterbacks (Craig Krenzel, Kyle Orton), and imploding young quarterbacks (Rex Grossman). He was also quarterbacks coach in Dallas from 2000-2002, where he mentored (so to say) Ryan Leaf, Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, and Chad Hutchinson."

For Not Benching Grossman

While the Chicago sports media is busy calling for Lovie's head because he keeps stating that "Rex is our quarterback" with little elaboration, I can't help but wonder if they're really all so nearsighted as to not have noticed that Lovie isn't exactly interested in discussing every nuance of his decision-making process with the press. Frankly, I doubt that the reason Lovie is standing behind his quarterback is that he has failed to notice how shitty he's been. It's probably more along the lines of "he needs to play through this slump" type of a thing. And, I guess, I can sort of understand that. Personally, I would've benched Grossman at halftime in the last game. He was just so obviously messed up in the head that you could quite literally see his self-doubt affecting the way the ball flew out of his hands. He did not once set himself in the pocket and throw the ball. In fact, it even got to the point that he tripped over his own legs dropping back to hand the ball off. But I would have benched him out of pity for him and not because I thought it would be better for the team. From the very beginning of the game, it was pretty obvious that the Bears defense was going to be able to handle anything that the Vikings did, and really it wasn't going to be necessary for Grossman to do anything for the Bears to win. And, looking beyond that, judging by the rate at which the team has been able to win over the past two seasons without an offense, there's not really any reason to expect that they won't make the playoffs, no matter what Grossman does. Which basically means that the Bears have to really figure out what they have in Grossman. We already no what we have in Griese: a pretty competent quarterback who plays at a steady average level, one who could in all likelihood manage the offense Turner gave to Orton last season with the same level of aptitude. That offense will manage not to lose games for the Bears, and if they switched to Griese now, they'd go into the playoffs knowing that they can't rely on the offense to ever win the game for them, so they just have to hope that the Defense and special teams would manage to pull out wins. Frankly, I like their chances even given that possibility to at least make it to the NFC championship game, where, worst-case scenario, they'd face Romo and the Cowboys, a team that I'm pretty sure they could handle as well. The thing is, with Grossman, we have seen that he has the potential to be pretty damn good and run a pretty spectacular offense. At this point, it is obvious that the only thing holding Grossman back is himself. So, really, I think you kind of have to let him try to play through it. If he hasn't managed to pull himself out of it in the next two games, then I think you have to pretty much pull the plug on the guy for good. He's just not able to handle the pressure of the league, at this point. Maybe give him some intense sessions with a sports psychologist over the off-season, try to bring in a legitimate long-term option to compete with him for the starting spot next season and then see what happens. But, if you bench Grossman now, you still won't know what you have with him. Is he capable of becoming the great quarterback he obviously has the talent to become? Grossman has been an unknown quantity for the Bears for the last several seasons, and there's not really any reason to continue having him on as an unknown quantity. Give him every last chance in the world to correct himself, and if he doesn't, he's done.

Or something like that. I think Lovie has a much more complicated idea for what's going on than what he expresses to the media, and I think he's done enough in the past that it's probably okay to trust that he'll make a good decision when it comes time for the decision to be made. But, really, there's just no reason for that decision to be made immediately.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ugh. Why is the Chicago sports media so terrible? After a week of articles following the loss to the Pats in which they seemed to be talking about an underperforming team that was blowing its shot at the playoffs, Rick Morrissey actually has the nerve to write his article for the Tribune about how the Bears need to lighten up because they're acting pretty grumpy for a 9-2 team. And of course, there was David Haugh's weekly article about how Benson is such a terrible distraction to the team and his big mouth is dragging them down. I think Haugh must be jealous of all the articles that people get to right about TO, or all the articles the Mpls journalists got to write about Randy Moss, and has just decided that he's going act as if there is such a person on the Bears, and that person is Benson. Seriously, though, why would you decide, during your first season as the beat writer for a franchise in one of the biggest markets in the country, to make your mark by singling out a player and trying to blow him up into the Villain on the team? It either has to be personal, like Benson said some asshole thing directly to Haugh, or else Haugh is just lazy and decided that it's a lot easier to just pick a guy to rag on and run with it than it is to actually write up some meaningful analysis of the team. Frankly, the Tribune owes it to the Bears fans who read their paper to fire Haugh at the end of the season and to try to find an actually good sports journalist to be their Bears beat writer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I just wanted to say how much fun I thought last night's game was. Seriously. It was the type of game that I don't think has really happened with the Bears in a long time. It was a game against a high-quality opponent, and really the only important thing about the game was pride. Sure, I would have liked to see the Bears win, but it wasn't like they got blown out or demonstrated any glarins weaknesses. They played really well against the Pats, and maybe if Grossman hadn't hurt his hand or not fumbled that snap they would've won, but it really wouldn't have made too much of a difference. The game was really fun to watch, but it was a game between two teams who both know they're going to the playoffs and with little likelihood of effecting either team's seed in the playoffs. So, essentially, it was a practice game for the playoffs. Before I get back to feeling sad about the fact that the Bears didn't beat the Patriots, I want to be sure to really enjoy the fact that the Bears were in the position to be playing a playoff primer game. This team is really good, and I really think they're going to make it at least to the NFC championship game, which is something that has seemed basically impossible for so many years. Also, it seems pretty safe to say that they will be contenders for the next few years, and so, I guess, I just want to make sure that I enjoy it while it is happening, instead of wringing my hands over every little hiccup and then, in eight or nine years, when the Bears go back to stinking it up and looking up hopelessly at Green Bay and Minnesota, thinking how much better it was back when the Bears were at least competetive. I'd love to see a Super Bowl, but really I'm happy with the fact that the Bears are finally one of the best teams in the league, and look to be so for the near future.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nobody's talking about Rex's hand. It seemed like he was playing really well until he hurt his hand, and after that all of his throws were really off. After they came back from the first half, though, and the sideline lady said the Bears had said Rex's hand was fine, there wasn't another mention made of his hand. All those downfielf throws didn't quite work because none of the throws were quite on target, and it seems like if he'd hurt his hand and it was hurting his accuracy, he's got to realize that and change his game appropriately, or the coaching staff's got to make a decision to put in Griese. Also, although I do think it's stupid that they went for the big throw when they had a full two minutes left to try to get a drive going, Davis did have Samuel beat and if the throw'd gone to the right spot it would've been a sweet play. Which brings up, again, the question of if Rex's hand was hurt and if that was effecting his accuracy, and if so, why he was still in the game if he wasn't capable of doing what he needed to do. Oh, well. I just don't think this loss was a very big deal.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Over at the FO blog, Aaron Schatz confirms statistically what was already obvious to anyone who has watched all of the Bears games this year: Rex Grossman is way worse when playing from behind than playing with a lead, and especially worse when playing from more than a touchdown behind. Mr. Schatz thinks that as a Bears fan I should be worried by this, since the Bears will be more likely to fall behind playing a good team in the playoffs than when playing a shitty team. While that claim may seem to be kind of a truism, if you look at recent Bears history I'm not so sure that it's as obvious of a truth as it seems at first. It seems pretty obvious that the biggest weakness the Bears have right now is overconfidence, and going back to last season, it has seemed like when they face a really good team their defense gets all amped and freaks out all over everything and pretty much makes it impossible for the other team to do anything. I fully expect that to happen in the playoffs this year. If that does indeed happen, the only thing that Rex Grossman has to do is not turn the ball over. Hell, he could throw only incomplete passes, but as long as they're handing the ball off to Thomas Jones enough to give the defense a little time for rest here and there, the Bears will win. They may not win by thirty points, but they'll probably win. That is, of course, barring some sort of random turn of events like DBs tripping over their shoelaces.

Even though this next week's game might be just about the least meaningful game on the rest of their schedule, I really really really hope the Bears hand it to Tom Brady and the Great Satans. I mean Patriots. Seriously. I hate New England. I hope they shut them out. Probably they won't though. I expect New England to put a little more into the game than the Bears do, and the Bears will at best walk away with an unconvincing victory. And it won't matter at all. The closest team(s) in the NFC is 6-4.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

LOL! Patriots fans are so funny! The Jets managed to cream the Patriots last week, but instead of everyone realizing that the Patriots are just not all that good of a team, they've all decided that the Jets are actually really good. I mean, I already thought that the Jets were better than everyone gave them credit for, but they're just running around with all of the slightly-better-than-mediocre teams, which make up about 90% of the league. Anyway, the Jets beat the Patriots last week and so this week Bill Simmons talks about how the Jets are actually really good and makes fun of Jets fans who don't think that the Jets are really good, and then he goes on to pick the Jets over the Bears! Which I think is pretty frickin' hilarious. For one, there's no way that the Bears fall into the same trap they did with Miami and Arizona, because no one thinks that the Jets are absolutely godawful. Some people are actually picking the Jets to win. Lovie Smith's 2006 Bears only lose games when they're unanimous picks and when the '85 Bears crap reaches a certain level.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The last sentence of Aaron Schatz's comment about the Bears in this week's foxsports dvoa commentary, "Here's what would worry me if I were a Chicago fan: can you really trust the inconsistent Rex Grossman to play well in three straight games?," is another example of the offensive bias seemingly everyone brings to their understanding of football. The fact is, Chicago does not need Grossman to play well in order to close out the season as the number one seed going into the playoffs; Chicago needs Grossman to not be ridiculously awful. Specifically, they need him to avoid turnovers. With the defense the Bears have, there is no way that they will lose another game this season unless the offense turns the ball over. There have been so few times that a team legitimately drove down the field and scored a touchdown against the Bears this season that the only one I can think of right now is the three- or four-play drive the Giants had yesterday that ended with B.Jacobs's longest run of the season. The scary thing, though, is that it has seemed sometimes that Turner does not recognize this fact, and therefore does not impress it strongly enough on the trigger-happy Grossman. Someone needs to impress upon Grossman that losing yards, failing to get the first down, throwing incomplete passes, none of those things is very bad when you have the caliber of defense behind you that he does. The absolute most important thing for him to do, possibly even more important than scoring points, is avoiding turnovers.

Anyway, I'm only so hard on FO because I think they're easily the smartest football analysis site anywhere, and it's annoying to see them making such simple mistakes sometimes. A simple look at Chicago's record and DVOA rankings in offense, defense, and special teams, even if one had not watched a Chicago game all season, should be enough to tell someone that the Bears' quarterback is not the most important player on their team, even if you're a Patriots fan and so trying to imagine another team winning w/o a Tom Brady-level quarterback stretches your noodle a little bit...

Monday, November 13, 2006

While watching the first part of the game last night I found myself thinking, "wow, the Giants really schemed the first part of the game incredibly well, I just hope that once the Bears adjust they turn out to be enough better than the Giants to win," which, I guess turned out to be kinda right. It made me wonder a little bit, though, if the Bears ever actually do work out specific schemes or game plans for each game, and how smart/dumb of a strategy that is. They always talk about how they don't really cater their system to specific opponents, but I think I've always kind of figured they were just blowing smoke, but it does sort of seemt that Lovie's brilliance lies in his scheme and general strategy. He doesn't appear to expend much energy on creating specific plans for specific teams. I don't know too much about Coughlin, but he seems more like the opposite kind of guy. I know from various media reports that he's absurdly anal and a total control freak, and that type of person would probably want to script as much of a game as he possibly could, which could never be more than very much of the first quarter, and then his ability to deal with what's happening in front of him would kind of fall apart as the game progressed, which is pretty obviously what happened last night. Although I don't know if it applies to any of his other games this season. It's hard to really tell how good the Bears are at half-time adjustments and things like that. They fell apart after the first half of the Miami game when they didn't have to and would have been served better by just focusing on what they normally do and continuing to do it, which is what they seemed to do last night. But in the Arizona game it seemed like they came out in the second half and, at least the defense/special teams, really went after a win. Pretty much the rest of the games this season they've been so far ahead at halftime that there wasn't anythign to adjust to.

Mainly, though, I wonder if the overall shape of last night's game (and last week's game) is something we should get used to for the second half of the season. It's been pretty obvious that the way to beat the Bears is to go all crazy at the beginning of the game and freak out their O-line and make Rex panic, which results in turnovers galore, so any team with a non-comatose coaching staff is going to come out doing exactly that. It won't matter, though, if Rex manages to reign himself in or calm down or whatever, like he did yesterday, and play like the good version of himself. But can he do that every game? And did he really manage to calm down yesterday or is it just that when Madison got injured the Giants' didn't feel they could keep blitzing because they didn't trust their nickel? I think, after the giddy first half of the season, it's going to become obvious again that what wins games for the Bears is their defense, since it's going to be up to Defense to play extremely well while Rex figures out each game if he's going to spiral downwards that day or if he's going to focus and make the defense really beat him instead of just scare him. We already know that the defense can win some games all by itself, so it's not so much of a worry to realize that Grossman's got some king-size flaws, but I can't imagine we're going to keep seeing the type of win we saw so many times in the first half of the season.

In other news, how funny is it that the 49ers just beat other NFC North teams two weeks in a row? Seriously, the Bears might have enough wins already to make it to the playoffs...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

LOL! John Madden on Giants' Madison getting beat by Mark Bradley for a touchdown: "He was beaten! He was beaten! He blew a hamstring, granted, but... he still got beat."

I'm so excited for the game tonight Although, for the first time all season, I'm actually kind of nervous about the game as well. There is a pretty decent chance that this will be the most important game the Bears play during this regular season, since it's possible that the Bears and the Giants could end up tied for best record in the NFC, in which case the winner of this game gets homefield advantage during the playoffs, and judging by how the Bears have played at home versus how they've played away so far this year, that is a pretty big advantage for them to have. I would absolutely love to see them beat the Patriots in two weeks, since I hate the Patriots so much, but there's just not much of a chance that game could end up meaning much of anything. It just effects the win/loss column. And that makes it kind of insignificant, especially considering how easily they've been beating pretty much everyone else all season and that there's every reason to believe that will continue as they play the rest of their games against bad opponents. So, basically, this game tonight is the most important game they'll play until the first playoff game, and I hope they realize that and come out like they did last season against Carolina/Atlanta, and how they did against the Seahawks in week three. A loss tonight would be so incredibly annoying. I might even cry.

So the lead-in blurb or whatever it would be called for John Clayton's mini-article about the Bears/Giants game on ESPN.com says, "Everyone expected the Bears to be what they are: perhaps the NFC's best team. But the Giants?" Um, really, everyone expected that? ESPN's Preseason power rankings put the Bears at number 13, with five NFC teams (including the Giants) ranked above them. After the preseason, the Bears were still at 13 with five NFC teams above them, this time including the Bucs instead of Washington. They did jump five spots after their week one humiliation of the Packers, and every NFC team that had been above them except for the Seahawks dropped tremendously. I think it's just kind of annoying for ESPN to be all like, "Yeah. We saw the Bears coming," when I don't remember anything on ESPN before the season started talking about how the Bears would probably be the best team in the NFC, or even be in the running. I think they mostly talked about how they had a decent chance to be in the playoffs because everyone else in their division was terrible, but they'd been "exposed" by the Panthers in the playoffs, and they screwed up their draft, so they would just not be as good this year as last. Why not just admit that you totally screwed up in your assessment of a team that has clearly become a powerhouse.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I finally got around to reading the AGS. Somehow I missed it when they posted it. I'd been looking forward to it, because I'd been thinking there'd been some good stuff on FO lately, but I actually thought the AGS was pretty terrible. It doesn't offer a very good explanation of how the Dolphins won the game, nor does it provide any useful insight to the Bears or Dolphins teams in general. I kind of wonder if he even watched the game or if he just analyzed the game based on box scores and FO statistics.

The stupidest part of the article is when Macey discusses the Bears special teams. He actually seems to say that the reason they fumbled so many times is because their special teams had been playing at such a high level before, so there had to be some kind of correction to that freakishly high level. This is a very common cognitive mistake people make all the time when they think about averages and things like that, but I'm surprised to see it pop up on a site where everyone gets all high and mighty about their superior statistical analysis. While the Bears special teams may not be able to maintain their mutant-like level of play for an entire season, they have proven that their a solid unit. We can probably expect that they'll drop off a little bit, but it's more likely that they'll play at a closer-to-average level than that they'll suddenly be terrible. Macey: "One final problem for the Bears is that much of their early success has been the result of an extraordinarily high level of special teams play. They have excelled in almost all aspects up to this point, creating enormous field position advantages for both their offense and defense. That is a problem because it is simply unsustainable." Hey! Idiot! It is never a "problem" when one aspect of your team is playing at a high level. Think about how blatantly stupid this would sound of someone wrote "One final problem for the Colts is that much of their early success has been the result of an extraordinarily high level of quarterback play. That is a problem because it is simply unsustainable." Macy goes on to mention that the previous high for special teams over a season was 7.8%, and that the Bears had been playing at 13.7%. He then says, "Their DVOA started to drop early in the second quarter." He seems to be assuming that the 7.8% level is some kind of actual concrete thing toward which the Bears will be pulled, and that they will actually be penalized for overachieving by having all sorts of things go wrong as DVOA asserts its omnipotence over their special teams skills. That's just not how numbers like this work. Probably more things will go wrong for the Bears special teams during the second half of the season than did during the first half, just because a way higher number of things went right for the special teams than one could normally expect. That does not mean, however, that they will have some kind of overcorrection of loads and loads of bad things go wrong in order to bring the average back to the center. Really, I'm just pissed off that FO published such an obviously stupid bit of analysis.

The other major thing that bothered me about this article is that it didn't really do much to describe the way the game actually went. Macey makes it sound like the Bears lost because they failed to stop the rush. That's not really what happened at all. The Bears only gave up one big drive that resulted in points: a field goal. The only other big drive the Bears gave up ended in ABrown's interception. The Dolphins scored one touchdown when they were given the ball within the Bears ten-yard line, and pretty much immediately scored another when Taylor got a great read on Grossman's throw. Obviously, the Bears defense will stop most teams from getting a touchdown out of that fumble more times that most other defenses would, but it's still a pretty high-percentage shot that the Dolphins get seven points. At that point in the game, the Bears were down 14-3 despite outplaying the Dolphins pretty significantly. Grossman's first interception, even, wasn't that horrible of a play on his part; it was a very good defensive play by a very good defensive player. The drive when the Bears scored, to get the game to 10-14, proved that the Bears were in control of the game, and if both teams had gone out and executed similar game plans to what they had in the first half, the Bears would've very likely won the game. The Dolphins didn't appear to change much, but the Bears did. Instead of calming things down at half time, the Bears came out and looked jittery and scared, like they didn't know how the win the game. It was actually kind of weird. It really bothers me that there isn't any mention of this aspect of the game in the AGS article. Instead, the Bears lost because their offense never worked w/o Berrian and because they couldn't stop Ronnie Brown and because Grossman was terrible. That's just not how the game was decided. That's only a description of the fourth quarter. And what especially irks me is that, over at the FO blog, Aaron Schatz, in his annoyingly neverending campaign to justify DVOA to people who are never going to buy it anyway (why is it, by the way, that FO's spent so much time trying to justify themselves, by the way? it's like they're more concerned with all the people out there who really don't want to inject intelligence into their football analysis and who probably don't even read what they say. anyway), Schatz wrote in his explanation of DVOA a fake description of a game in which a team outplays another but still loses the game. The funny thing is that his fake description works as a more accurate description of the first half of the Dolphins/Bears game, with just a tweak of minor details, than the AGS article this week.

Especially annoying, too, is that now I'm kind of suspicious of any analysis this Ned Macey guy does. If he fucked up this game so badly, why would I trust him on any other games that I don't watch...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This weeks AGS feature on footballoutsiders is pretty well done but it fails to offer insight into anything but why the bears lost to the dolphins. Looking forward they failed to notice that chris harris and mark bradley were both inactive for the game. I would like to hear the coaching staff's explination for this, which I can only assume is health because otherwise it's incompitance, as bradley is clearly the second best deep threat on the roster and berrian has a tendency to get hurt at least once a season. also, Davis has apparently never practiced in the X slot and Gage is worthless unless griese is throwing. The whole situation is dubious to say the least. I can't remember exactly why turner was a bad head coach, but I think his player management was part of it. It seems that Lovie is going to have to step up on this front for the team to continue their early season form.
The bears run defense clearly suffered this game, though i don't think quite as badly as the numbers show. I don't really remember more than one sucessful run per possession for Miami, so I don't think there's too much to worry about. But I hope Harris is healthy next week because Johnson just isn't a starter. I didn't even know McGowen was practicing and suddenly he's active on sunday before Harris?
Anyway, I still think the bears are the most solid team in the NFL. Though they have one obvious weakness. They seem to lack composure. Every week that Rex has struggled the only answer provided after the game is "We'll have to look at the film, then we'll let you know what went wrong." What went wrong was that when you get down you forget that there's still time to win the game and Turner and Rex go all crazy. The coaching staff needs to step up their preperation level and more importantly their in game awareness level. When Rex starts to rush, Turner needs to slow down. Let the line block for Jones, maybe even call three running plays in a row!
Sorry, this post is a little rambly. I clearly should have mapped my thoughts a bit before writing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Well, that kinda sucked. The most annoying thing, I think, is that now that they've lost to the Dolphins, if they keep winning, it's just going to increase all the annoying '85 talk.

That was a really weird game, though. I would have felt worse if they'd lost to the Cards, I think, than I do about this game, because at least the Bears weren't really outplayed this game. Though Grossman failed to come through in the end to give them the win, it's not like he really threw the game away, either. The Bears were still very much in the game in the second half of the third quarter, down 21-13, and if Turner wouldn't have panicked and decided that they absolutely had to win this game immediately and started calling only passes, allowing the Dolphins to blitz every down and make Grossman feel uncomfortable, and an uncomfortable Grossman is a very bad Grossman, if Turner would have instead have stuck with what had been working all game, was a run-heavy balanced offense, the Bears could have easily won the game. The Dolphins offense only really earned 3 of its points all game. Grossman's first interception was a bad Grossman mistake, but the other two important turnovers were jsut kind of freak things. It seems like, this year, the Bears haven't played a game in which the breaks went both ways. Either everything is going the Bears' way or nothing is going the Bears' way.

I guess you just have to figure that, most games, you're not going to have such a ridiculous number of breaks go the other way, so you can't get too worried about this game. It revealed very little about any weaknesses the Bears have. But it did show us, once again, that Turner doesn't know how to call plays from behind in such a way to give his quarterback a good comfortable shot at winning. Which is kind of troubling. But it's not the type of thing that can't be worked out, if someone around there is willing to work it out.

Next week against the Giants, though, is suddenly far more important than it would've been if the gods hadn't decided to spit all over the Bears this week.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

how pathetic are the dolphins?

I just looked over the bears schedule and they literally have two difficult games on the entire thing. The Giants in NY in two weeks and two weeks after that NE at foxboro. Before the season this looked like the toughest spell of the year, which it is, but it looked far more daunting with a tough miami team coming to town before the three game east coast trip. The 'fins are dancing very close to the 2007 first overall pick and certainly aren't going to change that on sunday, but it's the old dolphins the undefeated dolphins who are really pathetic. They accomplished something amazing 34 years ago, 13 years before the bears last were dominant, and they spend every year getting together to celebrate the final first loss of every season. This isn't just a private ritual either, they make a big deal out of this event, and apparently they even feel qualified to weigh in on each teams chances of accomplishing what they did. Great guys you were good two generations ago, let it go! You don't know any more about the current NFL than Mark Schlereth and hes a flippin moron. This years bears probably wont go undefeated, but they have a very legitimate chance of doing it. The giants seem to me to be a solid team, but nowhere near the bears level. Eli has never taken apart a great defence and Tiki barber is merely good, not even great, and hes afraid of playing next year, so each week and each hard hitting defence he sees hes going to think of the end being oh so near. And Tom Brady and the Pats are going to lose to Peyton and the Colts, exposing all their defensive shortcomings and the bears are going to come in rested after the bye week that is the NY jets and Urlacher will, single handedly if necessary, ensure that Tom Brady starts to think the studio doesn't look so bad by the end of his pathetic day. Or maybe the bears won't come through in the end, either way i will still think the 72 dolphins players are pathetic human beings.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I hate Tom Brady. I hate him so much I can't even feel good about him annihilating the Vikings.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm still a little bothered by the fact that the MNF game is being referred to only as a gigantic choke by Arizona, first of all, because I think that takes some credit away from the Bears for what they did to win the game, and secondly because I'm not even sure that "choke" properly describes what Arizona did.

I'll start with the second one, cuz it's a little easier. If you want to call that game a choke, I think you'd have to point to some point where Arizona just stopped playing well, and that never really happened. It's not like the Arizona defense, which had been playing amazingly all game, suddenly stopped playing well and let the Bears score 21 points on them. The Arizona defense kept clobbering that Bears' offense all game. I mean, it looked like they even made it harder than it should've been for Grossman to kneel down at the end of the game. Likewise, the Arizona offense. It's been established that Arizona had trouble running the ball all game, just like they have all year. Fine. And when Arizona scored the fourteen points they scored at the beginning of the game, they did it by passing. Yes. But they did all of that in the first quarter, when apparently the Bears defense wasn't ready for the game to start. Arizona got a lot of yards and both touchdowns when receivers weren't stopped by the first people to get to them. That didn't happen the rest of the game. Arizona got two field goals in the second quarter because Grossman gave them the ball in field goal territory, but they didn't get anything running or passing, really, after the first quarter. Lots has been written about how the Cards lost because their play-calling got conservative and they stopped passing, but, by my count, in the fourth quarter, which is when the Bears won the game, Arizona passed fifteen times and ran the ball ten times. Of those plays, nine of the runs were ineffective, with a majority of them being stopped by Urlacher, one of them resulting in a Bears touchdown. Eight of their fifteen passes were completely ineffective, either incomplete or short gains when long gains were needed, and every one of those ineffective passes were because the Bears defense was playing extremely aggressively, hitting receivers as soon as they touched the ball, nailing Leinart just after he let go of the ball, chasing Leinart around so his throw was more difficult. Three other of the passes were short gains that were somewhat effective because they were on early downs, but again, on every one of these, the receiver was stopped as soon as they got the ball and Leinart had to deal with pressure. Of the remaining four "effective" pass plays, there were still none on which the receiver got any yards beyond the first defender to reach him. That means, in the fourth quarter, there were only five effective offensive plays by Arizona, out of twenty-five total. And none of them were effective for anything much more than first downs. There was one passing play that moved Arizona into reasonable field goal range, and it was the last pass they ran, setting up a 2nd down with 2-yards to go for the first. It's at this point that a lot of people point to say that Arizona gave it up, becuase they were jusrt playing for a gimme field goal from forty yards out. I don't think, though, they were playing for a field goal at that point. It's second and two, and even though they hadn't been able to get much running, I think you have to figure, if you're a coach, that you can pick up two yards running the ball a couple of times. It looked like they were trying to run for the first down. And I think there's a good reason at that point to try to run for the first down when you have two yards to go and two downs left in which to do it, which is that if you try to pass it on eithe r of those and it ends up incomplete, which seven out of your fifteen previous passes have been, you stop the clock. And, when you're almost in easy field goal range, and the clock is low, and you need two yards in two plays to keep the drive going, I don't think you want to risk stopping the clock. But, aside from avoiding that risk, if you're an NFL team, you have to figure you can pick up two yards in two plays by running. Even if you're Arizona. They didn't exactly choke at that point: the Bears defense forced them to try for the field goal from farther out than they wanted to. It's not like they ran three straight runs with ten yards to go; they ran two straight runs with two yards to go. On the first run they picked up a yard. It's third and one, you need one yard to pick up the first down and then you can move a little farther into field goal range, if you try to pass and it's incomplete you have stopped the clock and given the Bears more time to try to move themselves into field goal range should you make it, and, I mean, it's one frickin yard, you should trust your running team to pick that up: I just don't think it's the wimpy conservative thing to run here. I think it's a better idea than passing. Another thing about the Arizona passing game: five of their seven not-ineffective passing plays came on that last drive, and it was because Chicago switched back to a softer cover from the aggressive pressure defense they'd been playing. I personally think the Bears should've just kept going right after Leinart on that last drive to absolutely eliminate the Cards from the game, like they'd been doing the rest of the quarter, but that's not what they did. Anyway, on plays when the Bears defense was really going after the Cardinals, the Cardinals passed nine times, six of which were incomplete, and one of which was a 4-yard pass on 3rd & 8. So to say that Arizona had been effective while passing but they gave up on it and then lost is not exactly accurate. The Bears defense pretty much stopped Arizona for three-fourths of the game, and it's more their fault than Arizona's that Arizona couldn't get into decent field goal range at the end. In fact, when Barkley was in the booth in the second quarter, he said something about the fact that Arizona couldn't get to the end zone was a pretty big deal, and I think even said that if the Bears stopped them it was going to be a turning point in the game. The MNF guys kind of laughed at him, but it was funny that he was actually more right than they were about it. When your celebrity guest is analyzing the game bette than your paid commentators, you've got a problem, ESPN...

What bothers me most about all the choke talk is that it doesn't give the Bears credit in an area in which they really, I think, deserve some credit. This has to do with the flukey nature of football in general. Everyone knows that things can change suddenly on one play, if the defense, say, recovers a fumble and runs it in for a touchdown, or if a punt is returned for a touchdown. The Bears had several of those things happen in the game, and those things are the reasons why they one. Of course, because those events are so sudden, they seem to be flukey, and to a pretty high degree they really are pretty flukey. But what I think the Bears and Lovie Smith don't get enough credit for is that, instead of taking the normal approach to those events, which is to try to ignore them or play in spite of them and take what you can get while shrugging off what you give, they try their best to make those things happen. That is how Lovie got the Bears to win that game: he had them go out in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter, and try to make something crazy happen on every play. He did the unexpected on-side kick, which easily could've worked had Gould kicked it just a little lighter. He went for the block on the punt. He brought Hester in to return touchdowns, too. He knows that on every play, it's possible to create the possibility to score, and he had the team really attacking to try to create that possibility. Most people have a more rational approach to the game and try to get their team to win by minimizing mistakes and through solid play and stuff. But a football game is just as likely to be won by "freak" plays that lead to sudden changes in the score, and Lovie has his team playing with an eye to that fact in a way that I don't think any other football team plays. If you say repeatedly, as Lovie has, that your defense and special teams are out there not just to create opportunities for the offense but to actually score themselves, and then you win a game for precisely that reason, I think you have to get some credit for that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

By the way, congratulations to Matt Leinart, who was officially granted manhood following the Monday night game. Apparently Michael Irvin saw some pubes popping out of the former boy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Everyone is talking about how embarassing the loss was last night for the Cardinals. And I guess that it must have been, but, not being a Cardinals fan, I don't quite see what was so embarassing about it. After watching that game I came away convinced that the Cardinals are actually real team. Leinart is going to be a fricking good quarterback, and their defense actually looked really good. I mean, granted, they had their amps turned up to 11, and Grossman pretty much threw away any hope of having an offense during the game last night, but that Arizona defense looked legitimately tough. The few times when Grossman was able to settle down enough to get a few throws in, the d-backs punished the receivers in a way that I was not expecting at all from the Cardinals. Plus, everyone's acting like the fact that the Bears won without scoring an offensive touchdown means that Arizona took it away, but that is a serious slight to the Bears defense. They took the game away from the Cards. The Bears defense and special teams have been built to win games without an offense, because that's what they had to do for the past three years. They were 11-5 last year, and doubtlessly one of the three top teams in the NFC, and that was without an offense! Last night's game might have seemed flukey, but how many times does the defense have to win a game by itself before you have to acknowledge that it's not a fluke every single time it happens. People look at football, mostly, this way: the offense scores points; the defense stops the other team from scoring points. The Bears defense thinks that they're out there to score points just as much as the offense. Sure, it may be harder to score when you're on defense, since the other team gets to decide what is going to happen to the ball initially, but, if the Bears have decided that they're going to score points on defense, and then they do it, on a relatively consistent basis, at some point it just has to be accepted that Lovie Smith is revolutionizing the way defense is played and thought about at a professional level.

That said, I sort of felt better about last night's win than any of the others so far this year, except for maybe the Seattle game, b/c the Bears managed to pull off a victory despite almost nothing going right for them for the first three-fourths of the game. That comeback easily ranks as one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Right up there with Indy's comeback from 28 down against the then-defending Super Bowl champs Tampa, a game that ushered in the Payton Manning era in football, and the Bears 2000 back-to-back Mike Brown interception returns. I love football because of games like that.

Here's probably what happened: After two years of carrying the team without any semblance of an offense, the Bears' defense was starting to feel a little sad and neglected after all of this talk about Grossman being the new McMahon/Luckman and how the Bears offense was now so flashy and awesome and all of that. Everyone seemed to have forgotten about the defense. I mean, sure, there was talk about how they were dominating and such, but they were no longer the sole focus of all the talk. The defense and special teams frankly got a little jealous. They thought, "Hey! We know how to win games all by ourselves! Sure, a working offense is nice, but, c'mon, it's just not all that necessary!" And in order to prove it, Mike Brown and Brian Urlacher got together and worked a little magic, with the help of the Chicago football gods, and spiked Grossman's gatorade. Just to further their point, they decided to take the first quarter off and give the Cards a 14-point head start. Shutouts are nice and all, but where's the excitement? No one could doubt the greatness of the Bears D/ST if they managed to pull off a victory all by themselves in a game they once trailed 20-0, right?

Seriously, though, hopefully someone on the Bears offensive coaching staff will sit down with little Rexy and make sure he understands how unnecessary he is for wins. It's nice if he can put together a decent drive now and then, and, seriously, it's easier to throw the big play after you've lulled the other team's defense into thinking you're just going to manage the game, but if you try to start out with the big play and it doesn't work, you need to get ahold of yourself and build off of some solid play. Okay? You're not necessary to win games, but it makes it a little tougher if you're going to be all Favre-like and throw the ball to the other team four times... sheesh...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Well, after two weeks of decent fantasy scores for my team, pretty much nothing worked for me this week. I've been struggling all year because I completely failed to take into account the importance of running backs and the dearth of decent ones in the league before my draft. But I managed to pick up Domonic Rhodes several weeks ago, who hasn't really put up many points but at least has been used a few times each week. And then a two weeks ago I managed to pick up M. Jones-Drew, who last week finally gave me decent fantasy points for a running back. Both Rhodes and Jones-Drew had bye weeks this week, however... I thought I'd be alright, though, cuz I'd picked up M.Turner along the way, and the way San Diego had been running their back, it looked like there was a really good chance of Turner putting up some stats against the 49ers. Well, San Diego put up 48 frickin points, but Shanahan decided this week to only give Turner the ball once for no yards. Augh!! Now I know why fantasy owners everywhere hate coaches like Schottenheimer... The other running back I had as a starter was Musa Smith, who for the past couple of weeks was looking more and more like he should take over for Jamal Lewis as Baltimore's starter, since JL sucks a lot, so of course, this week, Smith decides to audition for a losers league spot and fumble the ball one of the two time he touched the ball. Augh!! And then there's Randy Moss, who is on a team so hapless they don't even know how get him some touchdowns. I saw about five minutes of the Oak/Den game last night, and every time I turned to the game Oakland was giving up the ball. No one could exaggerate how bad of a team Oakland is. And then I've got Travis Henry on the bench, who I picked up last week just in case he looked like he might get good enough to take a spot when Tennessee plays weak run defenses, and he rushed for 178 yards against Washington... I've got Grossman, Gould, and Bears D/ST all left to give me some points, so hopefully they decide to give Arizona an unprecedented beatdown. So here's hoping Grossman throws for five touchdowns, none to Berrian (who's on my opponents team), the defense sacks and/or intercepts Leinart ten times, causes and recovers ten fumbles, scores five touchdowns, and doesn't give up a points, and Hester returns a couple kicks for scores, and for good measure, Gould kicks eight field goals. It could happen! It will happen!

Friday, October 13, 2006

I think it must really suck to be a non-Bears fan in Chicago right now, at least if you care about football at all. For proof, head on over the the FootballOutsiders comments track for Week 6's DVOA. There you will find, starting kind of early but especially once you get into comments 200 and on, a poor man who goes by internet name of Fnor, who seems to have annointed himself the corrective to "everyone's" over-rating of Grossman, and thus the Bears in general. I don't know what Fnor means, but when I first read the name I figured he was a Vikings fan. However, after five weeks of NFL play, the Bears have so clearly dominated their opponents and Grossman's put up decent enough numbers that the words "Grossman" and "Bears" apparently got to him, and starting in the late 200s of the comments, he kind of flips and starts accusing everyone who thinks Grossman might not be terrible of being obtuse. My favorite part is when he exasperatedly reveals that he is a Steelers fan living in Chicago. I actually was kind of surprised to find out that he's not a Vikings fan, but really this was just because his posting name is "Fnor," although he seems to assume that people thought he was a Vikings fan just because he hates Grossman. But, anyway, after reading his desperate post about being a Steelers' fan in Chicago, I kind of feel a bit of sympathy for the guy. For me, one of the most annoying things about being a football fan over the past five years leading up to last season was how high all of the Vikings fans around here got on Daunte Culpepper. Sure, the guy was putting up some absolutely spectacular numbers, but every time I watched him play all I could see was how he seemed to fumble the ball if anyone touched him and how obviously flustered and shitty he got when his team wasn't rolling. It was obvious to me but no one else seemed to notice it. Of course, both ends were probably exaggerations. Culpepper did get lucky that in a lot of cases his ridiculous fumbles and stupid mental errors didn't hurt him, but he also was capapble of throwing a pretty good game in between the blunders. Really, probably every "great" quarterback was like this. But now poor Fnor is stuck in Chicago where everything is turning up Bears all of a sudden, and when he watches a Bears game, he sees the throws that bounce off of a d-backs hands and gives Berrian the credit for all of Grossman's successes. What's kind of lame about it is that he is apparently a game charter for FO and he's said he's been charting some of the Bears' games this year, and so to whatever extent that charting is a subjective process, he's got a chance of skewing the analysis against Grossman. Not like it matters. Mainly I am just feeling some pretty rockin' schadenfreude while I imagine the words "Grossman" and "Bears" and "Super Bowl" resounding in poor Fnor's ears everywhere he goes in Chicago.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I was just listening to the KFAN show with Brad Childress and the radio dude asked Childress what he would say to fans who've been complaining about their lack of a vertical passing game. Paraphrasing: "Well, I'd just say that we've been facing a lot of two-deep zones and they've been covering us pretty well, deep." So, basically, Minnesota, your coach says that they can't get their deep passing game going because the teams they're playing are using basic cover packages. Good luck ever playing an NFL game in which that doesn't happen. Unless you're the Bears' offense from the last couple of years, of course... But, really, Childress seems more and more like an idiot the more I hear from him. Yay!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here's something I found on ESPN: "The Bears have posted four wins by 25 or more points during their 5-0 start. The only other team in NFL history with four 25-point wins after five games was the 1941 Bears, who were coming off a 73-0 win over the Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game and went on to win another title in 1941." I was wondering if there was any precedent for blowing this many opponents at this point in the season...

I read Boomer Esiason's lips during the half-time program and he said, twice I believe, that the Bears are the best team in the NFL right now. If Boomer says it, I'm convinced. I was kind of worried that there would be a bit of a letdown after the last game, since it was all "this will be the game where we see how good the Bears really are" and some people stuck with that. Some people just said, "Look, the Seahawks just aren't as good as they were last year. Hasselbeck's struggling. No Shaun Alexander." After five weeks of football I think there's now a pretty established pattern: after the Bears play a team, there's a few more people on the bandwagon, and the rest of the people just decide that the team they played against wasn't very good. I think Buffalo, this week's team unfortunate enough to play against the Bears, are actually a pretty good team, but that only puts them better than about twenty of the other teams in the NFL. The Bears are way better than about twenty of the other teams in the NFL. Most encouraging, though, is that there was no letdown. A week after the Bears dominated in every phase of the game, they came back and dominated even more in every phase of the game.

Driving home from mom's I was listening, mainly I guess so I'd have something to complain about when it hadn't turned into a Chicago Bears praise station, to ESPN radio. The Chargers beat the Steelers, who are kind of stuck right now since Roethlisberger's decided to have his rookie pains this year. The Chargers are back to being in everyone's book as one of the elite teams, and they're defense does seem to be pretty good, but I think that their coach is really holding them back. He seems to actually have an aversion to scoring points. He wants to score just enough to win and then sit on the lead. Everyone knows this, but I don't think that even most critics of "Martyball" realize why this is actually a dumb strategy, which is that at any point in a game something freak could happen and the other team could all of a sudden have seven points that they didn't even earn. So sitting on any lead of fewer than seven points is stupid. Sure, you'll win most games if you get really good at it, but it's more of a gamble than most people seem to realize. You're not playing to win if you're not going for a big lead; you're only playing for a chance to win.

By the way, congratulations to Philip Rivers, who was declared a man today by the Westwood radio crew. They actually got to watch the "maturation" process, which in most humans take's several years and is only noticeable if you see a person about once every couple of months, but Philip Rivers grew hair where it matters right out there in front of everyone! I got to watch a little bit of the first half, and he did look kind of young, so I'm kind of curious to see him now with his new man-sized Adam's apple, and I really hope he has a kickass beard.

I won two fantasy games in a row! I'm so fracking jazzed! Guess who's carrying my fantasy team? Robbie Gould! No, seriously, I blew away my opponent this week, and as of right now have the second highest fantasy score, mainly because of Robbie Gould and the Bears' Defense. The guy I'm playing started Seattle's kicker. Seattle has a bye. So maybe he's not paying any attention to his team anymore. But I still won! and I would have beat almost everyone else in my league! If only I knew any of them so I could get all cocky about how I'm being carried by Bears fantasy entities...

Wait, Jacksonville beat NYJ 41-0? I didn't hear about that at all... wtf? People were too busy running stories about how TO in Philly turned out not to really be a story... god the sports media sucks...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So... last weekend was a little too awesome for words, but I found myself feeling a little down this whole. I couldn't figure out why, but I loosely blamed it on the fact that the Bears don't really have any competition, and I don't just mean in their schedule, I mean, I really think the Bears are capable of being historically great this year, and there aren't any other teams who have anything like that potential. So the Bears' awesomeness will kind of go wasted, since nobody can even hope to compete with them. But then I realized that I was just kind of sick. Which sucks. But now that I'm not quite as sick anymore, it's okay, and I can just be happy about how frickin' great the Bears are. On to other matters.

Rick Morrissey is weird. He writes a column about how the Bears should just go ahead and not lose for the rest of the season so we don't have to hear about the '72 Dolphins anymore, a sentiment that I can totally get behind. But then in his little blurb about his pick this week, he picks the Bears to beat Buffalo 21-7, and then says that people in Chicago are stupid because they think the Bears are so good but, c'mon, Seattle didn't even have Shaun Alexander! The victory hardly counts! So, Rick Morrissey thinks the Bears are great, but that people who think the Bears are great are laughable. Okay.

Really, though, I've been thinking about it all week, and the Bears really do have a chance to go undefeated. But then, lots of teams have had a chance to go undefeated. It's way harder to do than to win a Super Bowl. Not to mention the fact that if the Bears do end up, say, 14-0 or something, Lovie'll probably end up resting a lot of the starters, since 14 wins will probably end up being good enough for home field advantage in the playoffs. It would be pretty nice, though, if they did. Also, enough with the '85 Bears already. I love them as much as any Bears fan, but I kind of think it's more fun to just focus right now on how good the current Bears are. Mmhmm.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just because I feel like picking on Morrissey right now because I'm up way too early and I'm crabby: Rick Morrissey says, even though he picked the Bears to lose to the Seahawks before the season started and said they'd be 1-3 at this point, that they will win. He atttributes his change of mind to "a resolve" that "had been in hiding at times," whatever that is supposed to mean. Yeah, right, Morrissey. You're just an idiot. Actually, I'll be touching down in Chicago in about six hours, so I'm really not all that crabby. But, sheesh it's early.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Here's another thing that I'm suddenly kind of wondering about today. Most prognosticators like to list scores along with the games they predict, and, it seems, very often these scores are only three or seven points apart. The thing is, predicting that a team will win by seven points or less, in football, is really only predicting that the team you think will win is going to win because they got one more break to go their way than the other team. I think a team can only really claim to have "won" a game against the other team if they win by more than one score: more than seven points. This is because, in a football game, unless you're up by more than seven points, you're pretty much at all times one Chris Thompson falls on his ass for no reason or Kurt Warner fumbles a snap and a lineman picks it up with only daylight in front of him away from suddenly being behind. And that bullshit touchdown can be the end of a season. That's just how it goes in football. So, it seems like picking a team to win 17-13 is really saying that you want this team to win, or that you think they'll get lucky once more or manage to avoid the other team getting lucky once more than the other team. (sorry about that last sentence...) That said, I think the Bears are going to really beat the Seahawks this week. The Seahawks have always had a tough time on the road, and it really wasn't until last year that they started to shake that stigma, and only because they finally became a significantly better than most teams in the league. But the Bears are at that level, too. And I will be at the field this week wearing a Tommie Harris jersey, which, along with the however-many-odd thousands of other screaming Bears fans wanting to see Matt Hasselback on his tush and Seahawks running backs getting pulverized in the back field and Ricky Manning Jr. making me forget he's a psychopath for a few moments is going make it really tough for the Seahawks to do anything like they did last week. I've come to the conclusion that a team that relies on a powerful passing attack to win games will fail when they struggle, because so many things have to go right to put up 40 points and if you don't have other elements in place that can actually win games for you, when that passing game struggles, and it only takes a few things going wrong for a passing game to suddenly look bad, there's no where else to go, and the point total drops significantly. The Seahawks haven't really been able to run the ball this year, and they're not going to suddenly be able to do that in Sunday night at Soldier Field. The Bears' line (which has Tank Johnson, who would be a star on the line for most other teams, actually playing behind someone who's better than him) is going to get Hasselbeck out of his rhythm at least five or six times, and those times will be enough to prevent the Hawks from going off. Unless the Bears aren't as jazzed as I think they'll be, this is going to look like last year's first game against the Panthers except this time with a decent offense playing for the Bears, and the result will be, I'm going to give a range here, (17-30) Bears to (0-9) Seahawks. At least it better be. Because I'm going to be in the stands. And I've never got to see my Bears win in person. And I really really really want to.

Rick Morrissey is such a complete tool. It's kind of like he's the little brother of the egotists writing over at the Sun-Times. I'm not sure why the two big Chicago papers have this contest going to see whose columnists can be more worthless, but the Sun-Times has been ahead for a while now with Marriotti and Mulligan, and Morrissey and now Haugh seem to be trying to catch up with them. Morrissey's column today is a perfect example of the pointless whining type of article that all of these guys are so great at turning in. His column is kind of disguised as one of legitimate annoyance at the fact that Ricky Manning Jr. admitted to being a complete asshole--at the very least--to some random guy in a Denny's, and quite probably had something to do with beating him unconscious. Which is incredibly lame, and is an example of why my love of watching football is always tainted by the fact that the guys I'm cheering for are very often not good people. Of course, why would anyone expect them to be good people? In high school, they probably were allowed to get away with more than most other kids because they were good athletes, and then they went to college where there are probably people who are actually paid to make sure that the athletes don't ever have to be held accountable for anything they do because their team is such a gigantic magnet for money and then they make it to the pros where, once again, lip service aside, no one really is all that concerned with making sure they become good responsible people. Stay just this side of felonies, please, and keep your mouth relatively clean when there's a tape recorder in the area, but other than that, you know, there's not really any good reason for you not to be a complete jerk. So, frankly, I think it's a little more surprising that there are ever actually football players who are also decent human beings. Well, not exactly surprising, I suppose, but there's no reason to expect it to be the rule. Anyway, Morrissey's column pretends to kind of be about being upset about Ricky Manning, but actually it's about how it's so dumb that the Bears are defending Benson. He starts out his column questioning why there was no big comedown on Ricky in Smith's most recent press conference, but from there he turns his argument into this: It is outrageous that the Bears defended Benson from media criticism when Ricky Manning Jr is a jerk and John Gilmore probably smokes pot and Tank Johnson got in a fight with a police officer who decided not to press charges. Which is a completely stupid argument in the first place, but also he isn't really portraying the situation correctly. The Bears haven't come to Ricky Manning Jr.'s defense much at all, nor have they publicly condemned him, but really they haven't had to mention it because it's been a complete non-story in the press. Likewise Gilmore and Johnson's things. At best, all of those things will merit a throwaway line or two like they do in this column if someone wants to complain about something, but there has been no campaign at all by the press to get to the bottom of the Ricky Manning thing. In fact, the most in-depth thing the Tribune has done with the story is play host to Manning's defense (although, bizarrely, the content to that article is currently from some article about Notre Dame's stadium, or something about Notre Dame and tickets or something...). This week, Haugh's first "David Haugh" article about the Bears was a big thing about how Benson was pouty after the game, followed by his defense of Manning. So, why exactly would the Bears feel the need to mention the Manning incident? Haugh even devoted the first section of his Q&A this week to defending his assertion that Benson is a whiny teammate who should be kicked off the team before he costs them a Super Bowl with his whining. There was no mention of Manning. And, looking back beyond this week, the Chicago press, or at least the Trib and the Sun-Times, have devoted far more print to condemning Benson than to any mention either way of Manning. So, Rick Morrissey, why isn't the Manning thing more of a story? It's not because of the Bears: it's because of you, the press. If you really want to make a big deal out of the Manning thing: do so. Start dogging the Bears until you manage to get some answers out of them, which you probably won't, and then go out to LA and interview the guy who claims Manning beat him up and go look at police records and then demand an actual interview with Manning and the other guys there and find out if anyone else saw what happened and, you know, basically be a journalist and try to figure out what happened and make it into the story. And then question why it is that as a society we are apparently okay with cheering for psychopaths as long as they are wearing symbols that have significant emotional meaning for us (which is a really good question and I don't have any idea why it is, either, and I am just as capable of doing it as "society" is). There's a reason that the story hasn't been a big deal in the Chicago press, though, and the reason is that nobody really cares. The Columnists don't actually want to get to the bottom of the Manning thing because it doesn't really affect the team: they want to go after Benson because they have invested a lot of time in criticizing Chicago teams and they don't know another tack to take for their columns and they lack the analytical chops to find actual problems that maybe haven't been addressed, and something like "not being a good teammate" is an easy thing to go all apeshit about if there's someone out there who doesn't look like he's quite been able to fit in with the team in general. So, until the press actually does make a stink about the Manning thing, just using it as a prop to back up your argument that Benson is actually a loser and the Bears are dicks for not saying as much is unspeakably lame.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Becoming Men

We all know that sports jocks, like businessmen, speak almost exclusively in cliches. My easy little theory for why that is runs pretty much as such: Sports jocks for the most part don't read, and, especially in today's culture, they end up spending essentially all of their adult lives hanging out with and surrounded by, almust exclusively, other sports jocks. Enlivening their language is not a big priority. Thus, everyone is always stepping up... Anyway. It seems like every football season there's a particular cliche that annoys me more than others, and this year, for whatever reason, I've noticed that people seem to be "growing up" a lot. So, I've decided that I'm going to keep a tally of football players who have become men so far this season. This will include those who've been declared men by sportswriters (who, one would think, since it's their job to play with language, would be less prone to cliche, but actually seem to love the sports cliche even more than most players; which, by the way, is more of the reason that I like FO than their analysis. They rarely rely on cliches. They may have some kind of weird inferiority complex that makes them feel they have to "prove" over and over again why their "objective" statistics are more valuable than subjective analysis, and they may have a further tendency to appear blind to the various points at which their interpretation of their statistics is subjective, as well as to overvalue the predictivity (is that a word?) of their statistics for a game whose data pool is not really large enough to make the value of their statistics quite as much greater than 'subjective' analysis as they want it to be, but they also are, as they claim, outsiders, and so seem to have managed to avoid the indoctrination into sports cliches that most mainstream sports writers have undergone, and really have I think made a decent argument over the past few years of the value of analysts who have never been "inside" the sports world), as well as those who noticed by themselves that they suddenly had hair where there was no hair before.

First up: The Bengals offense. I can't remember where I read it, but I remember somewhere reading/hearing Chad Johnson claim that the Bengals grew up. I'm pretty sure it was after the game against the Browns, but, again, I can't remember. In any case, the entire Bengals offense became men at once, which must have made for an interesting locker room dynamic after the game...

Rex Grossman. He was declared a man last week by Peter King. Congratulations! I wonder if there should be some sort of a ceremony for when an athlete becomes a man, like a football version of a bar mitzvah.

In another case of mass sudden aging: Steve McNair apparently said after the Ravens game against the Browns that his whole team grew up that day. This probably meant the most, however, to McNair, who finally became a man at 33 years old and after eleven years in the league. Of course, Ray Lewis was probably feeling almost as proud, making it to manhood in only two fewer years. Congratulations, men!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh crap. Apparently God is a Seahawks fan and decided to heal Alexander's foot. It's strange, though, that God wasn't there to help him gain yards the past couple of weeks... Maybe someone was praying harder? Or, actually, it makes way more sense that God is just pissed that people are talking about the Madden curse so much without mentioning Him, so, just to show everyone Who's in control, he's going to toy with Alexander all season. One week He breaks his foot, and everyone's all "Madden curse!," and then He heals it, "guess not..." and then during the bears game He will personally cause Alexander to pull a Grossman and tear every ligament in his knee when he simply plants to make a routine jump, an injury initially speculated to be career-ending, "Holy cow! Madden curse!" but then He will heal him again, "guess not..." followed by, eventually, Alexander's on-field death for no explainable reason and his subsequent resurrection a few days later. Maybe this eventually leads to a no-holds-barred cage match between Madden and God? We can only hope...

I'd meant to say something about this before, but I forgot about it. The NO/Atlanta game on Monday was a huge media even for obvious reasons, so tons of media organizations wanted to cover it, including, gasp!, Al-Jazeera! If you know anything about the world outside of the US you probably know that Al-Jazeera is not actually a terrorist organization. While they probably have a tendency to be more pro-Arab than most western media organizations, they are not the official news organization of any terrorist group, or even of any Islamist group or anything like that. They're just the largest international Arab news organization. But I remember seeing, it most have been last week on Football Night in America, some TV guys talking about the fact that Al-Jazeera had been given press credentials for the NO/Atlanta game, and they were obviously upset about it. Costas said something about his initial response to hearing that being unairable. I always thought that Costas seemed a bit more knowledgeable than your average sports guy, but even he hears Al-Jazeera and thinks "enemy"? Or check out this story that came up first when I typed Al-Jazeera and NFL into Google news. This guy says, "Can’t wait to read his lead. “Michael Vick and his band of Falcon infidels destroyed other cowards named Saints. But we still don’t like Greg Knapp.”" So do most people actually think that Al-Jazeera is somehow our enemy and actually the media outlet of terrorists or something?

Some dude over at the FO forums posted a link to the article with this photo. The caption for the photo reads: Terry Glenn cut his left thumb Monday while his hand was in his pants. "Fortunately, he cut his hand," coach Bill Parcells said.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sean Salisbury on NFL Primetime w/r/t Brett Favre: "I think his demise is greatly overrated." Great job, Sean! You almost got it right!
I watched the whole first half and some of the third quarter of the game last night. I may not have told anybody about it, but I totally called a Saints victory, mainly because, did you hear? They have Drew Brees! And Reggie Bush! And Deuce MacCallister! And that rookie Colston looks pretty good, although maybe he just looks good because they have Drew Brees. Wait, the Saints have Drew Brees? I actually can't believe that more people weren't expecting the Saints to be pretty good. They've looked for the past couple of years like they should be pretty good, but Aaron Brooks was their quarterback, so finally they get a different quarterback and people stopped putting them in their "these guys might actually be pretty good this year" category. Why? Maybe nobody noticed that they got Drew Brees or something.

Also, I was already to pooh pooh this nonsense about it being such an emotional game and everything, but the Saints came to flipping play. They looked like they were running about four notches higher than the Falcons. How often do you see a team block both a punt and a field goal in the same half? And they weren't just "oh I got lucky and the ball hit my hand while I was jumping around like crazy behind the line" blocks, they were like Tecmo Bowl LT blocks, where some guy just runs through as if the blockers aren't there. Neither of the kicks had a chance. Anyway, I doubt the Saints are quite as good as they looked last night, since they won't be able to be so jazzed every game, but they are pretty good. At least, that's what ESPN tells me.

The other thing about the game last night is that, judging from the various stories during the run-up to the game that ESPN ran, I really thought that they had, probably as soon as the schedule came out, started planning their story, which would be something about how resilient New Orleans is and how much progress they've made and everything and how everything is all good and that they wouldn't let any inconvenient facts like how actually shitty it still is for most New Orleaners still get in the way of this amazing feel-good story. And, kind of, they stuck with it, but I was actually impressed, in spite of myself, with their discussion of the situation. Tony Kornheiser, who I guess now I have to hate a little bit less, actually looked, during his "opening comment" or whatever they call it like he had taken a good look at New Orleans and wanted to say to everyone how much help they still need. And he stuck with it through at least as much of the game as I saw. Every time he mentioned "the situation" he said that it's so important that people in America still send help and that the people of New Orleans want and need the tourists to come back so they can rebuild the parts of their city where they still live. I was expecting a canned story about how great it all is and Yay Us! and hey! it's U2! and Green Day! but the actual story was, folks, seriously, most of the city is still in shambles, but the parts that you would have come to see before anyway have been rebuilt so come back! Please! Also, they interviewed Spike Lee and didn't seem upset or uncomfortable (well, maybe except for Theisman who looked like he was hiding in the corner to get the hell away from the weirdo) that Lee was all "I can't believe that people in this country don't help each other!!! I'm so sad about it..."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Check out the little clip of Costas and Peter King they've got over at NBCSports.com. King discusses Grossman's pass to Davis and how Grossman made the play by looking the safeties off of Davis (King also mentions it in his MMQ thing). They showed an excellent shot of it from the field on "Football Night in America," where you could see really nicely Grossman's eyes through the whole play. I honestly don't know all that much about how often quarterbacks do things like that, but I have to say that its looked so far over these three weeks that Grossman is really flippin' good at faking people out. King says that Grossman "grew up." So now he's offically a grown-ass-man. Woo! Also, apropos of the discussion of the Jets toward the end of the clip, every time some says, "Eric Mangini," I think they're going to say "Mangina..."
Note to Childress: don't make the media mad at you.

Once again, Phil Arvia's column at the Daily Southtown is better than anything at either the Sun-Times or the Tribune. Not only is the column really fun to read, he also got this great quote out of Grossman, "There's going to be some passes where you've got to rush. You've got a 350-pounder in your gut and you've just got to trust it's going to work out the way you saw it right before you couldn't see anything." Not only that, but he uses the quotation later in the column, and he uses it well. If only the Southtown had an RSS feed...

First things first: Tommie Harris might be my new favorite player on the team. He's been incredible so far this season. He already has 3 sacks on the season, which is as many as he had all of last season, and then just in case nobody had noticed how good he is, he blew right past Steve "God" Hutchinson and practically beed Brad Johnson and whoever was in running for the Vikes to the handoff and knocked in on the ground. It wasn't one of those fumbles where the defensive guy gets a lucky punch on the ball that the running back wasn't protecting well enough; he just got back there so fast that nobody even realized he was there. BJohnson said he'd have to go back to the tape and watch the play again in order to see what happened, because he felt like he'd got the handoff. So, yeah, Tommie Harris rules.

The game was a little hard to watch, because it just didn't seem like the Bears were all there for most of the second half, and the first half ended with a series of weak calls by the refs that pretty much gave the Vikes an extra drive and an extra three points. But still, after watching the Bears offense run up the points that last two weeks, it was somewhat frustrating to wait until the fourth quarter for a touchdown. Maybe I've just been spoiled that quickly. Grossman's interception was a pretty bad one. He said in the postgame that he was trying to throw it away and didn't notice the corner there, and if that's true, it's not quite as bad as it looked, because it looked like he was trying to force a play to Jones who was lying on the ground. But maybe my perception of the play was moved in that direction by the commentators who said that Grossman "needs to learn to accept it when a play isn't there." Yeah, he probably does, but one of the things that's been so fun about watching Grossman so far is that he's living up to the "gunslinger" hype. In yesterday's game he averaged 12 yards a completion, and on the season he's averaging nearly nine yards per attempt, both of which are numbers the likes of which I've never seen for a Bears quarterback. He looked a little shaky there during most of the second quarter, when he threw his first interception, but it was really nice to see him come back in the second half look a bit more like he's looked all season. The Vikes pass rush looked better than either GB or Detroit looked, and he appeared to be a bit ratteld, throwing off of his back foot a number of times resulting in hesitant wobbly passes. His second interception seemed to be a bit more of an anomoly. They'd managed to score two field goals so far in the quarter, bringing score from 6-3 to 6-9, and their offense had been moving well against the defense, with some pretty decent running, finally, and the defense had finally started stopping the Vikes before they got to field goal range. It looked like, even if the Vikes remained stout in the red zone, that the Bears had the game pretty much in hand, as they had the ball again and could likely drive down the field and burn up some clock time and at least get another field goal making it 6-12, and probably they could have done the same thing again. There was no way the defense was giving up a touchdown to the Vikes offense. There didn't seem to be that threat all game. Grossman's interception made it so the offense had to score a touchdown, and boy it felt good when they did. It would have been nice to see the Bears a little more dominant, but they really pretty much had the game in hand during the entire second half, if it weren't for those pesky seven points Grossman gave to the Vikes.

Pat Forde's assessment of the Bears' D after the game reads as such: "
The Bears don't simply run to the football. They take the bullet train. Big holes and expectant big plays evaporate. Even on a Sunday when Chicago missed an unusual number of tackles, it still never suffered a serious breakdown." It's a little weird that that praise comes after the worst game the D's played this season, but it also is something of an indicator of how good the D is. Even on something of an off day, they look better than any other D in the league. I haven't watched Baltimore yet this year, and I haven't seen very much of Jacksonville, but, well, I don't care. If Pat Forde (whoever he is) says it, it's good enough for me!

Meanwhile, John "Mr. Mackey" Clayton writes, "The Bears rushed for only 51 yards against the Bears" [sic]. John Clayton has to be the best football analyst working today.

Other random football highlight: When I got to work yesterday it was close to the end of the third quarter, and the score was 42-3. The Giants managed to get a touchdown (Manning-Toomer), and Toomer actually celebrated with a big cocky walk and his arms spread and that slow head nod thing, which kind of seemed hilarious, since no one else cared. Then, with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter, Hasselback threw an interception, making it 42-17. Buck's comment on the touchdown: "And just like that, the Giants are back in this thing!" Maybe they were just desperate for it to be a game or something, since they're Troy "God" Aikman and Joe "God Plus" Buck, but if Buck wasn't embarassed for saying that, he at least should be.