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 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.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More picking on the Vikings appearences: I think I've decided that new Vikings coach Childress is actually a clone. Seriously, he looks more like a human template than an actual human. My suspicion is made greater by the fact that I'm pretty sure my high school keyboarding teacher (Everding!) was made from the same template, as was that doctor hologram guy from Star Trek: Voyager. Childress here has added a mustache to disguise this fact, but mustaches don't fool me. I'm very certain that I've seen other Childress templates wandering around or on TV, but I can't think of specifics right now...

Friday, September 22, 2006

I just realized something w/r/t that argument the guys on ESPN radio were making about place-kicking sucking lately because of so much specialization. Morten Anderson is coming back to kick for the Falcons because the Falcons decided that their experiment of having Koenen do both punts and place-kicks wasn't working, which means that their argument goes something like: Morten Anderson is coming back to kick for a team who needs a place-kicker because they've been having their punter do it and he's not all that great at place-kicking, but the other reason that Anderson can come back is that place-kicking has been getting pathetic lately, and the reason place-kicking is pathetic lately is because the kickers aren't the same guys that are doing the punting anymore... I mean, not only is their argument just really stupid, it doesn't even make consistent sense with itself! Once again, these guys are getting paid to say this stuff.

Haha! Some guy named "Superfan" posted this in the comments of the ChicagoSports blog:

Bears 92 - Vikings 0 - Vikes defense is no match for Bears starting QB Mike Ditka. Ditka throws and catches his own hail marys 4x in the first half. The second half gets only worse for the chaps up in MN as they are forced to watch William Perry's infomercial on weight loss drugs, Mongo McMichael's greatest wrestling moments, and Ditka's ability to return an interception and score a safety on the same play.

Da Bears.

Also, the new Vikings uniforms look absolutely hideous. They look like the fake uniforms they'd wear in some bad football movie whose producers didn't want to shell out the cash for the rights for the actual uniforms to be used in the film. And, not to be overly crude or anything, but the little yellow borders of all the white kind of look like pee stains... No one deserves to win wearing uniforms that are so ugly.

Looks like I get to rag on Ian Dembsky again this week. He not only picks Minnesota over Chicago this week, but he adds this inexplicable thought: "If Minnesota can hold serve, then the Week 13 game in Chicago will likely be for the division crown. " I think there's just as much a chance of that happening as there is that by that point the game is so meaningless that some of the Bears starters get to rest. Yeah, sure, the Vikes are 2-0 right now, but everyone saw John Fox forfeit the game last week, and Washington is just way overrated, as usual.

My predictions for the Bears game this week: The Vikings do actually look like they have a better defense than either Detroit or Green Bay, but the headline for ESPN's scouting report says "Fierce defense on display," yet another indiciation of the lack of understanding around the commentariat of just how much better the Bears defense is than other "good" defenses. The Vikings defense will probably be able to stop the Bears more than they've been the last two weeks. In past years, this would've made for a good game, since the Vikings offense was probably good enough to make the game difficult. However, Grossman hasn't just looked like an average quarterback taking advantage of weak defenses, he's looked like an amazing quarterback completely taking defenses apart. He's made some throws (like that one to Davis last week that he set down perfectly in between three Lions defenders and hit Davis exactly in stride) that almost nobody else in the league would make. Minnesota will be extra jazzed up at the beginning of the game, so it would be perfect if they managed a quick score, but probably it will take until the third quarter before they manage to break the game open. I'd like to think the running game could finally get something going this week, but that Vikings line looks pretty tough to run against. But all they really need to do, though, is get a few more first downs from the running team and they'll be able to really limit the few chances Minnesota will have to win the game. On the other side of the ball, Alex Brown and Ian Scott will probably have tougher time with Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk than anyone else they'll face all season, but at the other end of the line, Ogunleye and Harris (and Tank Johnson) will be able to fly right through their half of the OLine. The Vikings had a tough enough time handling just Julius Peppers last week. Johnson won't have a lot of fun on the ground all day. I really don't think the Bears'll give up a touchdown this week, but if they do, that will mark the end of offensive production for the Vikes.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In keeping with the trend over the past ten minutes of not exactly Bears-related posts, but, you know, SPORTS!, um, here's one of many articles written recently full of hand-wringing about the possibility of Johan Santan winning the MVP. The funny thing is that they argue about whether or not a pitcher can win an MVP award like the MVP is some sort of actual thing that exists outside of the realm of things that a bunch of sportswriters just made up anyway. This is called reification. So they started having MVP votes and then they decided they were giving them to too many pitchers and then later that since they'd stopped giving MVP votes to pitchers they invented the Cy Young award so there would be an award for pitchers. But these were all actions carried about by people, and now they've hardened into these kind of abstract realities that people seem to believe exist outside their own collective power. Most of the arguments go along the lines of: MVP is this thing, and this is what I believe about that thing. I have yet to see anyone propose that they get together and just decide through some sort of a, like, vote thing, whether the MVP award can go to a pitcher. This type of thing happens all the time in sports, not just with awards and things, but with any type of rule. For instance, when you get sportswriters arguing about a certain call, say that weird call on Polamalu's interception during the AFC championship game last year, they start to talk about it as if there is this thing out there that is an "interception" and what we need to do is somehow get at that thing and really understand what an interception is, instead of the reality, which is that an interception is whatever the people who make the rules have decided that it is, because all of the rules are completely made up. Football isn't real, it's just a bunch of made up rules that people have agreed to follow. If people don't like the way a rule is implemented, what they need to do is get together and focus on the actual rule and how it could be changed or whatever. All of this thinking that what they're doing is chasing after something that exists outside of their own decisions only serves to make the process absurd. This is also like, to use one of my favorite examples, what happens in slam poetry, which is that: people invented this thing called slam poetry which involves giving poems a score and performing them in competition with each other according to certain rules, because it's kind of fun, even though the idea of poems competing is sort of dumb, but after a while slam poetry becomes this thing and the people participating in it lose sight of the fact that they just invented this system of rules and judging purely for the sake of having rules and judghing and suddenly you get all of these slam poems about "fuck the judges! fuck the scores! I don't need the score to tell me if my poems are good!" Well, sure, no you don't. But really it's like you just invited these people to give your poems and arbitrary score and now you're saying that you don't care about their score, and isn't that kind of stupid? The funniest thing, though, is that the slam poems about "fuck the scores!" always get huge responses from the audiences, and, best of all, tend to get high scores from the judges, who're like, "Yeah! Right on! These scores can't tell you what's good! Here's a ten!"

As a Bears-loving, Viking-hating, Twins-loving (in that order) South Dakotan, here's even more reason to hate the Vikings. They're selfish jerks! I guess the Bears'll just have to blow them out of the water this weekend to show them exactly how much right they have to try to claim importance... Average NFL franchise vs. ALCS-bound baseball team? Um... it's time to gain a little perspective, Vikejerks...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So I was listening to ESPN radio on my way to the Wal-Mart today and the two guys who were arguing with each other or whatever it is that they do on their show were talking about how Morten Anderson is apparently coming back to the NFL to kick again, which they used initially as a jumping off poing for various "jokes" about NFL pensions and how nice it would be to have someone almost as old as them in the NFL, etc., and then they moved on to their more serious point which was that Anderson's return is just another sign of how bad kicking has become lately in the NFL. So, they wondered, why is that? Why has place-kicking sunk to such a sorry state? Well, it's because of specialization, of course. Back in the day when football players had actual balls and stuff it wasn't like you had some guy who just kicked, he also was the quarterback and the safety, too. And sometimes even the coach! Nowadays, you have guys who, I mean, all they have to do is kick, and so they just sit there on the sidelines and think about kicking, and that's why they suck at it. Because the more you have to think about one thing, the worse you become at it. Really, that's what they said. Obviously, this explains why pitchers are so much worse now than they used to be back when they also hit, and, you know, also why golfers used to be better before they had caddies.

Later, at work, on Sportscenter they did a little segment about how Rex Grossman is so awesome, which I have to admit made me geek out a little bit. As part of the segment they interviewed Desmond Clark, whom I'd never thought about too much before, but, seriously, the man has an incredibly beautiful beard, one whose power this fish-eyed photo of him completely fails to capture. Suddenly, I'm quite keen on Des, as Lovie called him in he Clevelend-from-Family-Guy-like voice on the radio the other day. I hope he has some really great games in the near future just so I can see some more of that beard on the TV and be insanely jealous.

Manning supplants Harris in the starting lineup.
Man, what with Des and his power beard suddenly becoming a legitimate threat at tight end and Bernard Berrian averageing a 40+ yard touchdown per game and Muhsin catching everything thrown in his vicinity and even John Gilmore, the backup tight end getting two touchdowns against Detroit, and now Manning starting only three games into the season, that draft is starting to look actually pretty great. I mean, I was never one of the haters, but I didn't really expect any of the draft picks on defense to make such an immediate impact. I just figured they would prevent something like a random-ass third stringer whose name I'd never heard before covering Steve "God" Smith in the playoffs again...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why I love the Bears defense:

"after the Bears dominated their second straight opponent ... a despondent Mike Brown just shook his head discussing the game in front of his locker. Giving up seven points in the first eight quarters of the season apparently didn't sit well with the emotional leader of the defense."

It's funny, cuz I was kind of thinking the same thing. I know they won by 27 points and all, but it really made me sad that they gave up that touchdown.

From FoxSports, a little teaser/summary thing for an article about Maurice Clarett:

Matthew Zemek says Maurice Clarett is going to prison because he was in such a hurry to get where he wanted to go that he ended up going nowhere ... fast.

Wow. Apparently Fox has decided to just use a random cliche generator to write the blurbs for their articles...

Well, it looks like David Haugh has replaced KCJohnson as the Bears beat writer over at the Tribune. I really will miss KC, and I wonder what happened to him. Hopefully he got a better job somewhere or something. Oh, well. Haugh's little "Two-minute drill" thing today was not too bad... Although all the little ellipses everywhere made it seem more like a blog post than an actual column... Was that the point?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hm. And just because I wanted to say it: So, will they have to have a ceremony when they take the Super Bowl XLI trophy out of the Panthers' headquarters this week, or will Sean Salisbury and Eric Allen (or any other random pair of ESPN/SI/FoxSports Talking heads/writers) show up and break down the trophy case with the bare hands and walk stoically out of the building, heavy with disappointment, pausing only to look at John Fox and slowly shake their heads like all those church folks at the end of Cruel Intentions when Buffy's little crucifix breaks open and there's coke all over her shirt. Or something. (And both of Steve Smith's hamstrings are sore? And people still think he's going to come back and be amazing again this year?)

Wow! Check this out: another actually good sports columnist writing in the Chicago area! I'd never even heard of the Southtown until Rahula Strohl had a link to it on the What's Goin' On blog over at ChicagoSports, but it's nice to know there's another source out there for decent sports writing about the Bears.
Furthermore: two weeks in a row now the Bears have crushed a team and the buzz everywhere has been about how the team they faced might be one of the worst teams ever. I mean, I guess it has been the Packers and the Lions, but, how long before the Bears start to get some respect? They do have an incredibly easy schedule, but Indy put up 43 points on Houston and people at least still give Manning the credit.

thoughts after

Well, that was fun. Sometimes it's nice to be very wrong. Apparently there was no reason to worry about that nasty Lions defense or even Shaun Rogers, as Grossman had time all game to look around and check everyone twice before he threw it if he wanted to. I really thought that this would be Grossman's breakout year, but I wasn't expecting him to look this good until at least midseason. The only person with a higher quarterback rating yesterday was Ryan Longwell, the Vikings punter, who through exactly one pass for a touchdown. Grossman was worth more fantasy points (at foxsports fantasy) than anyone else in the whole league. Good thing he was riding my bench! Sure, Grossman got lucky that when Dre Bly intercepted his pass and returned it for a touchdown someone else was yanking on Berrian's facemask so it didn't matter, but that was the only throw all game that looked like a questionable decision. The only other throw I can remember that looked bad was his first bomb to Berrian when he led him too far. Oh well. It's looking pretty good that he and Berrian can get into a bit of a rhythm.

Game Highlights: The cut to Martz after they made Kitna fumble on their first drive, when Martz was just staring at the field and then screamed "Oh, come on!" into his headset, about the most helpless thing a coach can say. I also liked watching Marinelli scream at the refs after the facemask penalty that nullified the interception. Of course, if I were him, I'd have been pissed, too. Also, I have to say that the Grossman pass that impressed me the most was the one toward the end of their first drive in the third quarter when he rolled out to his right and he was looking all over for someone to throw to, and then he kind of dropped his arm down and dropped his head and it looked like he was going to sort of trot out of bounds and cut his losses and you could see the defense (what little of it you could see on the screen, at least) let up and figure that the play was over, and then at the last second before stepped out of bounds he suddenly whipped the ball to Clark on the sidelines for a first down. He is so good at selling fakes. It's wonderful.

In other football news, I'm just going to focus on where I was right. See, I told you that Jauron would know how to handle Culpepper. The little bit I saw of the beginning of that game, the Bills defense was making Culpepper look silly. He fumbled two out of the first three times he touched the ball! Classic Culpepper. Good thing he's riding the bench on my fantasy team. New Orleans did beat GB, because Drew Brees took over the game, not because Favre sucked. Favre actually had a good game, which I figured he would, and D.Driver had one of the best games around the league yesterday. Ahman Greenfumbles managed to have the most significant giveaway. I do think that GB is pretty bad, but I don't think they were as bad as the Bears made them look, just like I don't theink the Lions are as bad as the Bears made them look. Actually, judging by their performances this week and last week, I bet the Lions will start to look pretty scary by the end of the season. Also, Carolina doesn't know how to win without Steve Smith, although they had Minnesota beat before they tried that bizarre punt return/backward pass thing and basically gave Minnesota the points they needed to tie the game. Minnesota is not as good as everyone thinks they are.

There was no internet at my work last night, so I was forced to watch the Washington/Dallas game. For all the hype those teams get, it really just seemed that they are not very good. Both of them seemed slow, and it took until the third quarter before Dallas decided that they might as well go ahead and win the game. But, seriously, neither of these teams would stand a chance on the field with Chicago or Cincinnati or San Diego or Indianapolis. Also, that NBC highlights show is actually pretty good. The guys are pretty funny and it doesn't sound forced like they're trying to be Sportscenter dudes, and it actually seems like they watched some of the games they're talking about.

My only worry about the Bears right now, really, is Thomas Jones. For all his complaining about how it was the nine-man fronts he was facing that held him back, now that the passing game is really lighting it up it doesn't really seem like he's running any better. Actually, it seems like he's almost exactly the same as he's looked for the past two years. Most of the time he gets about two to three yards a carry, not really enough for the running game to really roll, and about every ten carries he'll break one for fifteen. I'd like to see him get more like four yards a carry before I'll be able to really get behind him. I like seeing how excited he gets when he has a nice run, but he just needs to pick up an extra yard or two on his regular short runs.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thoughts on today's game (before)

Shaun Rogers:I haven't actually seen Rogers play much, but from everything I've read he sounds pretty scary, and the little bit of the beating Detroit's defense gave Seattle last week, I have to admit, makes me really hope that Chicago's O-line is better than I think it is. It's too bad that you can't move around linemen to get the best matchup, cuz I would love to see Kreutz vs. Rogers. I'm pretty sure Kreutz would have him on his back all day. Sun-Times reports that Rogers will probably mostly be going up against Ruben Brown, in whom I have far less confidence. May he prove me wrong!

Another kinda scary thought: both Rex Tucker and Rex Grossman will be playing in Chicago today, two Rexes who both have a recent history of freak injuries sidelining them for whole seasons... And, hey, "Rex" rhymes with "Hex"! Actually, it's kind of surprising that their wasn't a big Mulligan or Telander or Morrissey article about this fact, with "Rex" and "Hex" in the headline. Come on guys! You're missing comedy gold here! Anyway, I'd put the chances both Rexes make it through the game w/out one of them accidentally choking on some gatorade on the sideline, causing an epiglotis sprain that keeps them from being able to control when they're breathing or swallowing, effectively putting a permanent end to his career, at about 1 in 9. It's like they're both in Final Destination, and they cheated their career-ending injury once and now the abstract concept of career-ending injury is out for revenge, causing random things to go haywire until they finally get what's coming to them. Maybe Rex Tucker will be the last Lion making his way onto the field and the tunnel will suddenly collapse on him... Anyway, there were reports earlier in the week that Mark Bradley might play, too...

Also, the Sun-Times is predicting a score of 17-13 Bears. I wonder how they come up with there scores. Do they realize that they're predicting the Lions will score a touchdown? Probably, but that seems like a dumb thing to predict. The Bears went through a significant streak last season without giving up a touchdown, and the Lions last week never really threatened to score a touchdown on the Seahawks, who do, apparently, have a decent defense, but one that is not nearly as dominating as the Bears'. Plus, it's the home opener, and they're playing against a team coached by Lovie's special roomie buddy guy, I just don't see how the Bears give up a touchdown to the Lions today... Maybe they're thinking the Lions will get three field goals and two safeties, which would definitely have been more likely two years ago. Speaking of Shea, what ever happened to that guy? I thought Martz had picked him back up as a Q coach in St. Louis. Did Martz manage to bring him along to Detroit? I haven't heard anything about him being there, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Devin Hester: Here's a nice little puff piece on Hester by David Haugh. It's mostly not too bad as far as boring puff pieces go, but Haugh spends too much time trying to be cute in the beginning that it's hard to tell if he's saying that Hester proposed to his girlfriend in line for concessions, which doesn't really sound all that awesome, or if his line about "expecting nothing more that just a trip to the concession stand" is just a throwaway. But, anyway, who's the David Haugh guy? What happened to K.C. Johnson? Did he get fired for being way too good of a writer or something? He hasn't had an article all week, and I miss him. He's not even listed in the Tribune's "Reporter's Pick 'em" or the blog's list of staff picks... Hopefully he's just on vacation or something... The only other Chicago Sports writer who's even half as fun to read as K.C. is Rahula Strohl, but he just writes for the blog and does the Bear with us stuff... come back K.C.!!!! Also, I'm calling it: Hester has another touchdown today, and it's not the only touchdown scored by a D/ST person...

Anyway, just cuz it's fun, here are my picks for the day: Bears (duh); TB beats Atlanta and everyone forgets how good Atlanta looked last week (I'm sure I'm wrong, too); Cinci blows Cleveland away (have I mentioned that it's going to be a Cinci/Chicago Super Bowl? I had a dream about it...); New Orleans, who have Drew Brees and Reggie Bush now, by the way, handle GB easily, although Favre has a good game; Indy over Houston; Buffalo over Miami, just cuz I think Jauron has to have noticed how easy it is to beat Culpepper if you just go right after him at the beginning of the game; Minnesota beats a Steve Smith-less Carolina; flip a coin for Philly and NYG, they're both equally over-rated; Baltimore sends in the third string at half time and still creams Oakland; San Francisco freaks everyone out by eeking out a victory over the "resurgent" Rams; Seattle plays at home so they'll beat Arizona; Denver beats KC and everyone puts Plummer back on their fantasy team; Jets beat New England (please please please!!); San Diego over Tennessee; as with all NFC East games, you can flip a coing for Washington/Dallas; Jacksonville beats Pittsburgh unless Roethlisburger plays.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Okay, this is bizarre. I guess FoxSports allows people to host little sports blogs on their websites, and this guy posted a thing in response to a post on FO's Fox blog. His blog his hilarious, although not really because he's got a good sense of humor, but because it's completely unintelligible. Plus, he's one of those people who either don't notice that they left the caps lock on or can't be bothered to switch it off, or, an even more horrifying possibility, actually think it's a good idea to type in all caps...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Here's Mike Tanier in FO's Rundown on the Bears-Lions:

"The Lions defense may be improving, but their offense is still a sputtering mess. That makes them the Lite Bears. Lovie Smith's team kept the Packers from reaching the red zone — heck, they kept them from reaching the Bears' 35-yard line — but their offensive highlight reel consisted of one Rex Grossman-to-Bernard Berrian bomb. Of course, last year they didn't even have an offensive highlight reel, so Lovie is making progress.

The Bears will win this week, but steer clear of that touchdown-plus spread. As for the 32 point over/under, here's food for thought: the over/under for Bears games has been 33 or less fewer points 13 times in the last five years. The game has gone under ten times. And that's the naked truth."

I too wouldn't really be surprised if the game ends with a low score. Detroit's defense looks to present a bit stronger of an obstacle than Green Bay's. But to say that the Bears only highlight was the Grossman-to-Berrian bomb kind of ignores the rest of the game. Grossman looked very good the whole game, and his interception only happened because he was getting hit while he threw it; it was actually a good decision. And Tanier's final paragraph looking at Bears games over the past five years and their chances of beating the over/under: it's hard to really say how relevant any offensive stats from previous years are to the Bears offense this year. Last year, Orton was the quarterback for most of the season. When Grossman came back at half-time of the Atlanta game (a game the Bears weren't really in any danger of losing anyway since Atlanta's offense was getting pounded by both the Bears defense and the weather), the offense visibly improved. The O scored 24 points the next week against Green Bay, and then actually managed 21 points against a good Carolina defense. The year before, the offense was Terry Shea/Quinn/Crenzel/Hutchinson... it shouldn't have even counted as an offense. Before that, Jauron's last year, well, it was John Shoop running the offense... Anyway, I just can't see taking stats from any of the previous five years of Bears offense and applying it to the current offense in much of a meaningful way. That said, 32 points total in this game? Probably not... Detroit might be able to put up a couple of field goals only because their D might get the Grossman and co. off the field more quickly and consequently leading to defensive fatigue. I think the Bears O won't be as surprised as Seattle was by how hard Detroit'll play, and Lovie probably has a better idea of what both Marinelli and Martz will be up to. But an over/under of 22 points might be a little better...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This dude, Ian Dembsky, over at has this to say about the NFC North:

"I’m convinced that the Vikings will win the NFC North. It comes down to two simple things: The running game, led by Chester Taylor and Steve Hutchinson, and the smart, efficient quarterback play of Brad Johnson. The Vikings’ defeat of the Redskins was a perfect example of what I expected to happen. They pounded the ball with the run, used the short passing game to help get first downs, and occasionally took advantage of the big-play ability of Troy Williamson (though it’d be nice if he could hang on to a few more of those passes). On defense, the Vikings were able to consistently get pressure from their defensive linemen, which will go a long way toward controlling the defensive side of the field. The Bears seem like the consensus pick for the division title, but I don’t believe Rex Grossman will handle the Minnesota defense the way Brad Johnson can: Taking advantage of everything given to him, while giving nothing away."

It's easy to follow the logic behind his argument, but I think he's missing a few things. Maybe, like most of those guys at FO, he maybe hasn't paid much attention to the Bears. In their little "Audibles at the Line" thing they didn't even mention that Bears/Packers game. I just don't think that Ian here realizes how good the Bears defense can be. Yes, his reasoning that Johnson's mistake-free play could win out against an inexperienced risk-taker like Grossman would make sense assuming that the Vikings and Bears defenses were roughly comparable. But they're not. The Vikings defense is good enough to keep people from scoring now and then and to get their offense back on the field; the Bears defense has proven itself capable of completely shutting down other teams and even single-handedly winning several games in a season.
Oh, and check out this paragraph from Tribune writer David Haugh:

"On the sixth play Sunday against the Packers, Grossman's fake handoff was so convincing that safety Marquand Manuel found, for an instant, that his feet were frozen in the slippery tundra of Lambeau Field. It bought Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian what amounts to an eternity in an NFL secondary, and his extra half-step went a long way toward the Bears taking a quantum leap of faith in their passing game." (italics mine)

He gets paid to write stuff like that? There must be a special sportswriter's school where they're actually encouraged to stuff as many cliche's into one sentence as possible...
Um, Detroit's new head coach sounds kind of insane. He went to Vietnam for a year and he won't talk about it; he has a mysterious limp and an elastic band around his left leg that he also refuses to talk about; he shows videos of predators tearing their prey apart to his players; he says things like, "Are you dying to be a great player? Do you claw the wall every day? Do you understand what that means? I want to get 53 men that live and die for footbal!" !!! He sounds like the crazy head coach from some early-nineties sports comedy, the one who acts like a complete hardass jerk for the whole movie until the hero needs some motivation because some other kid made fun of his poverty and so he just doesn't think he wants to show up for the last game of the season so then the coach sits him down and finally reveals the story of his limp, which involves the stripper from Saigon he was in love with and her pimp and killing men with his bare hands while he looks in their eyes and America and freedom and that mysterious ambivalent force we sometimes call God, and then the kid makes it to the final game with the killer instinct glinting in his eyes and he scores the winning touchdown after mowing down the guy who made fun of him.

Then there's Joe Cullen, who goes through drive thrus naked, and Mike Martz, who's, you know, Mike Martz, apparently so crazy that when he had to go to the hospital last season the team's front office used it as a time to cut him off from the team completely, and actually wouldn't let Martz talk to his players on the phone. And he was still technically the head coach... Anyway, I read it somewhere else and I think it's true: at the very least, Detroit should have an entertaining coaching staff.

But all the praise these random players are willing to lay on Marinelli has me a little scared, actually. Not that I'm worried about Detroit beating Chicago this week, or even this season, probably; they simply don't have the offense. Jon Kitna? Right... But they won't be the Mariucci Lions any more. It sounds like Marinelli will have them fighting to the last minute every game. And the Detroit defense was really beating up on Seattle last week. It's not that they were (completely) shutting them down or anything, it was just obvious they were playing way harder and much more physically than Seattle expected or was ready for. This week's game should at least be more of a game than last week in GB, when you could see the Packers pretty much giving up some time in the first five minutes of the game.

Plus, on top of Marinelli apparently being crazy and inspiring blind worship in his players, he and Lovie were roommates under Dungy when they first came to NFL, still call each other roomie, and refer to each other as best friend whenever the other is mentioned in an interview. I can't imagine that both coaches won't have their players a little extra riled up to show the other just what he's got.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Haha! Apparently Roy Williams is an idiot. As shown in last year's regular season walloping of the Panthers, the Bears D shows up in extra fine form whenever they think they're not getting enough respect. Roy Williams guaranteeing a victory for the Lions probably just did the opposite...
This is exactly why Chicago needs better sports media. The sportswriters currently in Chicago are so concerned with bitching about how crappy the teams are and finding any little thing to complain about that this poor average Bears fan actually thought that the Bears would not be as good this year as they were last year and now ends up losing $300,000 because they shut out the Packers. He describes the event as "beyond his wildest dreams." The poor guy probably reads the Sun-Times, which, according to Rahula Strohl, was recently rated by Sports Illustrated as the best source of Bears coverage in Chicago.

Seriously, though, what the hell was SI thinking? The Sun-Times columnists are terrible. Today, Mike Mulligan opens his column with this little series of questions concerning team pres. Ted Philips: "Hasn't the team president seen the Bears' 2006 schedule? Doesn't he recognize a juggernaut?" Maybe Mulligan should ask the same question of himself. All Ted would've had to do is read Mulligan's columns and some of the other Sun-Times' writers, during the preseason and he would have no choice but to come to the conclusion that at the beginning of Lovie's third season, the Bears are still a work in progress, with no idea whom to start at quarterback and not the slightest clue who their running back should be, not to mention that their supposedly great defense allowed the Niners and the Cards, two of the worst teams in the league, to rack up all kinds of points, so, you know, the Bears might be able to pull off a 9-7 season...

Of course, my personal favorite bit of preseason brilliance by Mulligan came when, on August 22, he wrote an entire column in which he castigated Benson for being a shitty teammate. This was in the middle of the Sun-Times' weird little campaign for Thomas Jones. Mulligan turned in a column eight days later pining for the ultimate team player: Terrell Owens.

And just to prove that not only are the Sun-Times columnists more concerned with their own egos and status as staunch contrarians to whatever might be happening to a sports team in Chicago, they apparently decided to go out and prove that they can be assholes about anything they want with this little gem concerning Steve Irwin's death.