Friday, August 31, 2007

The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

These are the two most significant things that happened in the Bears practice against the Browns today: Tommie Harris played for seven snaps, so now everyone can stop worrying that Lovie Smith is (for some completely incomprehensible reason) lying about Harris's health. He looked pretty okay. Didn't make any huge plays, but I did see him on one play throwing his blocker around like a rag doll.

The other thing is that Greg Olsen injured his knee, which sucks. Now, if I were an imbecile and actually believed anything David Haugh ever wrote, I might be under the impression that the Bears could have avoided Olsen's injury, because there's no discernible reason for Smith to have been playing Olsen at that point in the game, ("The value of Olsen to the improved offense begs the question why Smith still would have had him on the field with absolutely nothing to gain."). If I lent any credence to what Haugh is paid to write, I would think that Olsen is also upset about the fact that he was still playing at that point, ("After trainers examined him on the sideline, Olsen smacked his hand on one of the tables in disgust. It was a reaction to which any Bears fan watching could relate.") I would also learn that Lovie Smith is a complete idiot asshole who is incapable of realizing when he's just fucked everything up by being a total retard, ("Asked if he second-guessed himself for leaving such a vital part of the offense on the field after he had pulled his starters after three plays, Smith didn't hesitate [to answer that he didn't]").

Fortunately, I am not an imbecile. I don't read David Haugh's articles to get any insight or information about the Bears. I gave that up long ago. I read David Haugh's articles to become enraged! As such: Oh. My! GOD!!! Lovie Smith is easily the best coach that has been in charge of the Bears since Ditka, and may actually be a better coach than Da Coach! I know you think it's your job as a "sportswriter" to question everything and to criticize where you see fit, but you're criticizing this guy for things that don't really deserve any criticism! Greg Olsen is a rookie! He might be a freakishly huge and fast rookie who already looks in his first training camp like he could become a legitimately dangerous weapon in this league, but he's still an effing rookie! He has to learn how to play at a pro level! That is just something that rookies have to do! And how does a rookie learn what it's like to play with the pros? Practice! That's right. Somewhere, sometime, somebody decided that they should play practice games against other pro teams so players could get used to playing against other pro players. Some people have already been pro players and have played lots and lots of games against other pro players, and so there's not really a whole lot of value for them to play these practice games, and the risk of injury in them really outweighs any gains, so some people think it's a good idea to let these veteran pro players sit out good portions of these practice games. Lovie Smith, coincidentally, seems to be one of those people. However, there are people on a pro football team who have never played against pros before, and who are new to the team they're playing for, and who really can use all the practice against pros before they have to play against real pros for real. Greg Olsen is one of those latter people! He was in the game because he (as Lovie stated, although Haugh for some reason seems to think he was lying, because David Haugh believes Lovie Smith is a pathological liar) is not a starter!

In other words, Lovie Smith felt that Greg Olsen would benefit by getting more playing time before the regular season started. David Haugh apparently thinks that Smith is wrong about that. Which is fine. But he could at least present arguments for why that is the case. He could have written, for instance, "Greg Olsen is the most talented guy EVAR who has wonderful beautiful blond hair I want to eat him who can catch everything ever and is so also really tough and is a big man with big muscles everywhere and who is way smarter than ever doesn't need to practice because of his immortality powers generating out of his man region prodigious girth wow just big big big fast zoom zoom and would have with just one ginormous hand annihilated San Diego's defenders without practicing." Instead, Haugh flat out accused Lovie Smith of pointlessly exposing his players to injury, when in actuality Lovie Smith appears to have made it the major focus of this offseason to avoid injury. Frankly, David Haugh's article would much more appropriate if Smith had instructed Olsen to go out on the field and catch a punt, not signal for a fair catch, and then stand there waiting to get creamed by a sprinting backup safety, just so he could feel what it's like to be a man.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Sigh of Relief

Ten minutes before the beginning of the Cleveland game, I just wanted to say how happy I am that there are no more Lance Briggs stories in the Chicago press. Well, at least there are no columns. There was an article about how the police are done with there investigation because they just don't think there's really anything there. I'm sure David Haugh is chugging the Mylanta over it, but at least he's back to writing mediocre sports reportage instead of bizarrely inept psychological speculation.

Also, my girlfriend is here visiting me, which means I'd probably be about as happy as I am now regardless of what the Chicago press decided to write.

Pretty much the only thing of even remote interest about today's game is whether Tommie Harris plays any snaps. I think I read that Rideau got cut, which didn't surprise me after he ended up playing with the first team for a bit last week, but the story kind of got buried when Lance Briggs publicly raped a baby lion and then fed a human baby to it and Lovie Smith apparently didn't care. Oh, what? He just lost control of his ridiculously high-end sports car and crashed it and then panicked and made some mildly stupid decisions in the aftermath? That's all? Weird... I could've sworn he'd done something certifiably evil... Oh, well..

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Can't Wait for Football Season to Start, for All the Wrong Reasons

I just don't care about fourth preseason games, usually, but tomorrow night's game cannot happen soon enough. Why? So the Chicago sports press can shut the hell up about Lance Briggs already!!!

There are plenty of interesting non-football issues to talk about, even, if they want to. Like, check out this story about how some guy is getting charged with cyberstalking Adam Archuleta's girlfriend.

You know how you get random readers to stop on the sports page Chicago Tribune? Run a huge photo of Adam Archuleta's girlfriend! Maybe include an interview with Archuleta about what it's like to have your gf cyberstalked. For fun, ask Archuleta what they talk about. What the last book they read together was. Stuff like that.

You're the sports press. I understand you want to talk about "real" issues, because despite the fact that virtually every NFL game is sold out (and only because people want to see the games! bizarre!), somehow you don't think actually covering the NFL is a "real" job. Take a deep breath. Resolve yourself to the fact that you just don't have a real life baddy on your hands like those lucky cats in the Atlanta sports press do. Go get drunk and vent your moral outrage at each other. And stop fucking polluting my sports pages with your infantile garbage!!! Go ask Lovie Smith some football questions already!!!

You wanna know how weird it is that the sports press can't leave this stuff alone? Can you imagine if Forbes just started filling it's pages with stories about every accident or DUI that every high-level manager got into at big accounting firms? In fact, the people who cover the current administration in the mainstream press seem to have the opposite problem as sports reporters. Maybe they should switch jobs! The mainstream policy wonks could all come to cover the sports arena, where it would suddenly be of value for them to get over things like this Briggs thing rather quickly. And the sports reporters, seething already with moral outrage, could finally have something to really get upset about! Can you imagine David Haugh putting his deconstruction skills to one of Tony Snow's press conferences? Then at least he'd be doing a service to our country!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What Would An Ordinary Person Do?

I'm just going to rant for a little bit. As a Bears fan who is not and never has been a member of the press, I don't have access to the coaching staff or the players of the Chicago Bears. The Chicago Bears only just played their third preseason game last Thursday, and they'll be playing their fourth in just two nights, and there are loads and loads of things I'd like to ask the Bears coaching staff and players so I have a better idea of what to expect out of the game or out of the upcoming season. But since I can't do that, I rely on the real press to do it for me. And right now, the press is not doing it's job. Apparently, this is because the members of the sports media doing the writing are so out of their league when it comes to basic issues of morality that they have to just write and write and write about it, to the exclusion of all else, until an actual game occurs and suddenly they're forced, probably much to their chagrin, to actually cover sports. Maybe they were all forced to become sports writers when their ambition to become moral philosophers didn't pan out, since they're kind of retarded when it comes to morality.

Over at Da Bears Blog, they've apparently decided they want to have a debate about whether or not fans should be upset by the Briggs thing, inspired by this piece of garbage hacked out by Mike Downey at the Tribune. Downey is disappointed in the hypothetical football fans he (granted, rightly) assumes won't be all apoplectic about Lance Briggs's accident. Even better, he wrote the piece just about as soon as it was possible for him to have heard about it, which means he didn't even bother wondering what had actually happened before he got all disgusted at all the other people who won't get pissed about it.

But, seriously, come the fuck on Chicago Tribune. There's a reason most people aren't that upset about what happened: it's not really that big of a deal.

Here's a simple metric for trying to figure out if you should be really upset about something a famous sports person does: If your friend did the exact same thing, would you consider no longer being friends with him or her? It's not a perfect metric or anything, but it's way better than whatever random technique Mike Downey apparently uses when trying to judge human actions.

So, let's see, imagine your friend happened to have the kind of money that makes a $500,000 sports car practically disposable, and one night he went out to a few nightclubs and had a few drinks, not enough to get drunk or anything but enough that it would be smarter for him to give someone else his keys, and then he hopped in his new pimp-ass car, a car that is notoriously difficult to handle until you're used to it, and while he was driving it he lost control of the car and crashed it into a light pole. Then he panicked and ran away from the scene of the accident. He called the police to report the car stolen, but then called them back ten minutes later to take responsibility for the crash. Let's even imagine, worst case scenario, and remember this is a guy who's never been in any trouble with the law before, who you've never seen get out of hand at parties, let's imagine that he maybe was legally above the .08 blood alcohol level--again, not especially drunk or anything, but still it was dumb for him to be behind the wheel. Also, maybe, since he was in a brand new Lamborghini on an empty freeway at three in the morning, he was speeding. Say your friend did all that. What would you do? If it were me, I'd call that friend a dumbass. Maybe I'd pop him on the back of the head. I'd give him shit about it. I'd make sure he realized it was a really stupid thing that he'd done. I'd be really glad he wasn't hurt or killed. I'd say, "That sucks," about him getting charged with the various misdemeanors involved in his actions, and about his car, "but you deserved it." But, come on, really, I would not think all that much less of him as a person. I would not suddenly think that he should probably lose his job. I would not argue to all of our other friends that we should never talk to that guy any more, that he's suddenly revealed himself to be an evil moron who will only drag us down. I mean, realistically worst case scenario, if I imagine his accident had ended up with another person being killed, I'd feel absolutely terrible for the family of the killed person, I'd feel bad for my friend and I'd think he deserved everything the law was going to do to him, but I'd probably still keep being friends with him. I'd probably even argue for leniency toward him whenever and wherever I could. People sometimes do stupid things. Sometimes even the best people do stupid things. Sometimes those stupid things have much more serious consequences than others.

If, however, my friend didn't learn anything from this. If, say, in a few months, my friend crashed another car, or got loaded and beat someone up, something like that. That would complicate things. If he continued stupid and bad behavior, say a bunch of incidents that each in isolation wasn't especially terrible, well, they could add up, and I'd probably stop hanging out with him at some point, or maybe I'd try to arrange some kind of intervention or something if I thought it might help.

Or lets say it turned out my friend had been running a secret dog-fighting ring, and he personally hung and electrocuted a bunch of dogs, and killed other dogs with his bare hands by slamming them into the pavement. Or lets say he killed a guy in a bar fight, then did everything he could to blame his friends, and never showed the slightest bit of remorse for having killed a guy. Well. He simply would not be my friend any more. Relationship ended.

Really. It's not all that hard. These situations aren't even as morally difficult as a Steven Spielberg movie, for crying out loud. But for whatever reason, Chicago sportswriters just can't figure them out.

Right now the Tribune has three different main columnists trying to tackle it, and what do we get? Rick Morrissey calls Lovie Smith an "enabler." I've already addressed Downey. And then there's David Haugh.

Oh, man. What a total fuck he is. Here's an excerpt:

"Briggs' admission that he first lied by reporting his car stolen suggested a premeditated response to the accident more than a panicked one. Besides committing a crime by doing so, falsely reporting a stolen vehicle implies Briggs considered the ramifications of being so forthcoming with authorities. A guy with nothing to fear or lose doesn't instinctively lie to police.

Fleeing a crash scene because of shock might be more believable if a whopper of a fib didn't follow that alibi. That disclosure put Briggs' episode back under the microscope for another day of scrutiny.

Aaugh! Haugh apparently lacks the basic human empathic ability to realistically imagine himself in the situation of another person. Since when does lying suggest a premeditated response more than a panicked one? Hasn't he ever been caught or caught another person by surprise in the middle of doing something possibly wrong? The first thing you do is lie! I mean, even the guy who wrote the Family Circus had that one figured out. Calling the police to report your car was stolen is exactly the type of thing you might do if you're panicking in that situation, and it shows not that you've thought through the consequences but rather the opposite, that you're not thinking about how when you report your car stolen the police will wonder where you were when it happened and it's probably going to be pretty easy to figure out that it wasn't actually stolen. Briggs's actions indicated he didn't want to get in trouble for what he'd just done. How the hell could that confuse you?!

Actually, it's hard to tell what the fuck Haugh is even trying to get at here. He seems to be trying to argue that there is something much more nefarious going on, but what exactly he thinks it could be isn't clear. "A guy with nothing to fear and nothing to lose doesn't instinctively lie to police." Yeah, but a wealthy black man who's just crashed his car all by himself with nothing else to fear and nothing else to lose just might make the kind of dumb decision to lie to the police, thinking momentarily that by doing so he might avoid getting in trouble. There is absolutely nothing at all surprising that Lance Briggs might have behaved the way he says he did in this situation.

Lance Briggs Equals Worlds Greatest Teammate

While most of the Bears were sitting around feeling annoyed that all they had to do after their show-off game against San Francisco was answer questions as if their quarterback had sucked, Lance Briggs decided to prove he is the best teammate and do something about it. So he took his quarter-million dollar Lamborghini and rammed it into a lightpole and then used his world-class speed to get the eff away from the scene. There is not an analogy I can think of that hasn't been overused, but suffice it to say the media are like some kind of mindless organism that is drawn inevitably to and cannot control itself around certain attractants, and an abandoned destroyed ridiculously expensive sports car owned by professional sports player is just such an attractant. Briggs is smart. He figured in his little head as he sprinted away from the wreck frantically calling the police and making up stories that no way would anyone in the Chicago sports media be able to write a story about Rex Grossman or even any other actual football issue now. And it worked! For more than a full 24-hour news cycle the Chicago press has not written a single article debating whether or not Rex Grossman will ever take his team to the playoffs! I want Briggs on my side, too! I hope Rex is man enough to send Briggs some nice roses for this act of selfless teammateness.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Maybe it's actually Rex...

I have to apologize to Haugh. Football Outsiders Week 3 audibles mentions how much Rex sucks twice in the first 15 lines. (They also forget it's the preseason and tell the Bears to stop playing man coverage. It's practice people! who better to practice man coverage against than the top passing offense in the league!) It's not Haugh who's in a different reality, the truth of the matter is that Rex Grossman is the real-life person that the female vortex character in Night Watch is based off of. If you don't believe me, watch the movie. Rex has a giant vortex of evil swirling around him causing everyone he comes into contact with to feel a little sick and pretty down about what's going on. Without the Night Watcher's help the world will probably implode at some point this season. Thankfully Lovie Smith is the chosen one who knows that the only way to keep the vortex from swallowing our reality whole is to keep Rex's focus on quaterback fundamentals. This is no doubt why he told Olin Kruetz to start fucking up the snap. Rex was playing too well and his mind could start to wander. I'm currently working on finding a dark other to make an illegal deal with me and allow me to join the good fight. Even though it will mean I have to drink blood, and see flies and generally seem drunk and sick all the time!

Piling on Haugh

Not only is Haugh in a different reality, but in his reality he and the misguided public that agree with him deserve to have their quarterback fantasies addressed because, well, because it's obvious that we will never know how good the Bears could be with consistently average Brian Griese running the show? "Finish the preseason with the feeling the Bears have addressed every possible quarterback scenario," quoth Haugh. Do this because the starter, who is obviously the starter but still has a little maturing to do, not to mention as much work with the first team center as possible, simply could not get any better by playing another couple series!? I'm about one Haugh column away from boycotting the Trib for at least a month. yaaarrrrr!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What Is This Place?

From David Haugh's post-third-preseason game article: "for the Bears to ascend to the Super Bowl contenders they consider themselves, their quarterback cannot help the opponent score."

I've only finally just realized something that is actually pretty horrifying: Poor David Haugh is trapped in an alternate reality in which the Bears are not Super Bowl contenders! Who knows what is happening in the world Mr. Haugh has become stuck in? Maybe the Bears didn't even make the playoffs last year, because Rex Grossman didn't throw for a single completion to a Bears receiver! It's really sad, because I assume that on some level Mr. Haugh is a Bears fan, and he unfortunately missed out on the greatness of last season and will miss out on what is shaping up to be a second straight season of the Bears being card-carrying members of the NFL elite. That is the only explanation I can think of that Mr. Haugh would assume one of the only two teams to make the Super Bowl last year is not yet a Super Bowl contender.

It really doesn't say much for the editors of the Tribune, though, that they continue to run articles written by someone who's obviously reporting on a reality other than our own. Unless... Maybe they are actually aware of this fact, and know that only by running Mr. Haugh's articles can they stay in contact with him, and are working as we speak on a plan to rescue Mr. Haugh from this no doubt Raider-dominated universe. Good luck to them, I say! And my best wishes to poor Mr. Haugh. Wherever he may be...

Cut Down Becomes Eliminate

From the Daily Herald: "Although he shows Pro Bowl skills at times, Grossman can't seem to eliminate the mistakes."

The most insidious thing about the hole Grossman redug for himself after last game is that with the rekindled fear of Grossman collapses, people are going to start saying that Grossman needs to eliminate his mistakes to take the team to the Super Bowl. That's not true at all. Eliminating his mistakes would be a superhuman accomplishment. No quarterback could ever eliminate his mistakes. All Grossman needs to do is cut down on his mistakes. Grossman went 13/20 for 211 yards with 2 TDs and 1 interception. Yes, he had a fumbled snap, but there was lots of silly fumbles because the field was very wet. Going into the game everyone knew to expect some fumbles. But, of course, because of Grossman's last game, his fumbles could not be seen in the context of this game.

Basically, Grossman came out and did exactly what everyone should have said he needed to do. He came out and made far more good plays than bad, and didn't make any completely ridiculous mistakes. But his bar has been set at perfection by all the Grossman bashers. He will not be talked about as having a legitimately good game until he plays a perfect game. Which won't happen.

Maybe, hopefully, if he manages to have a season more consistent with this game and the first preseason game and the rest of camp, rather than the game against the Colts, by the end of the season there will be less pointless Grossman bashing. Hopefully that will be both because Grossman has really played better and because people have recalibrated their perceptions to more closely align with reality.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Secret Slumber Party is Over, So It's Time for Football

Random perk of living in San Francisco: 49ers preseason games are broadcast on the local CBS broadcast channel. Which means I get to watch the Bears game tonight even though I don't have cable. I don't even have to wait for the NFL Network rebroadcast.

Apparently the story of the presason for the 49ers is that the offense has looked sharp. Let's see how they look against a really strong Bears Defense.

First two plays: San Francisco kicks the ball out of bounds trying to avoid a return. Grossman goes deep to Berrian for about thirty-five yards. Pretty nice.

49ers broadcast guy apparently doesn't understand football rules. On 2&10 Grossman threw to Berrian in the end zone, but Berrian was out of bounds. There was a penalty on the play, because the corner pushed Berrian after the five yard zone, so it was a 10-yard penalty. 49ers guy says "The ball wasn't in the air, so I don't understand where the interference was." Three straight decent runs lead to 4 & a short one from the two-yard line. Chicago goes for it and Benson punches his way in for six.

"Bear dooooowwwn, Chicago Bears!!!!" My roommates are looking at me funny...

It was Walt Harris who got beat on that deep Grossman-to-Berrian on the first play.

We still don't get to see the real Bears defense, cuz Tommie Harris isn't playing. Mark Anderson makes the -1 yard stop on the first running play. 49ers broadcast guys just laugh about how incredible the starting lineup of the Bears defense is, then 49ers punt to Hester, who breaks a number of tackles for a return back to about the fifty yard line. As they're cutting to commercial, 49er color guy says, "That guy is just...."

49ers wanted to come out and prove something after their humiliation at the hands of the Bears last season. They're not doing too good a job of it.

3-yard pass to Hester. The only kind of play I've seen go to Hester so far: Grossman throws immediately to Hester on the line, who tries to jump around for a couple of seconds and then gets gang tackled.

Grossman still looks pretty good. Laser for about twenty yards to Des Clark. Then he goes to Davis in the end zone, but it was just over his hands. Then Grossman fumbles a snap... what the hell... everyone boos...

Grossman makes a nice throw to Bradley, but Bradley wasn't expecting the ball so he it's fourth down. Field goal, Robbie Gould. 10-0 Bears.

49ers kick returner is so afraid of Bears special teams coverage that he just falls down all by himself for about a ten yard return. Bears defense is in the backfield on the run, but 49ers pick up a couple, than a couple more on another run. I don't think Gore's running, though. Bears look like they go offsides on 3&7, but, no, it's a false start. 3&12. Bears were all over the 49ers backfield again before the refs stopped the play. Bears stop the running back before the first, M.Brown jumps up screaming so loudly I can hear it here in SF. Berrian's returning punts now... or at least fair-catching them...

I wish the 49ers crew would tell me what's up with Hester, but I assume that since they haven't it's nothing too serious. They cut to the trainers looking like they were sort of rubbing his shoulders, so maybe he had some kind of a stinger or something. But if he is kind of injured, why is our starting receiver now returning punts in a preseason game? He called for the fair catch while no one was anywhere near him, so maybe he's not going to risk anything.

Benson gets five, then Grossman for eight yards to Jason McKie. Jason McKie? Did he catch any first down passes all last season? Grossman for about twenty-four yards to Greg Olsen. SF defense isn't even challenging the Bears offense. So far they've only stalled because Grossman fumbled that snap and then Bradley dropped the ball. Benson gets two yards on a pass, then about six on a run up the middle. It'd be nice to see Benson break one at some point. Peterson's in and he picks up the first. Benson's back in for about five or six right side off tackle. Another run around the right side to Benson, but he's flattened after jumping over his blocker for no real gain. End of First quarter.

Can't complain really about much in that first quarter, aside from another fumbled snap. At least this time, Grossman shrugged it off and has continued to look like he did before the fumbled snap. And it is wet out there. Anyway, doesn't look like it's a problem the same way it was last game.

First play of the second quarter: Grossman to Berrian for a TD. Then Berrian gets penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebrating with Rashied Davis. Maybe the refs just figure they need a little practicing making that call. Extra point is good. 17-0 Chicago.

Oh yeah, Gore has the hurt hand, I just remembered. 49ers showing some beefcake photos of Vernon Davis from Muscle & Fitness and talking about how Vernon Davis might be the best athlete in the NFL. Who's Vernon Davis?

Alex Smith has time in the back field, but settles for a three-yard dumpoff to somebody who gets immediately leveled by Briggs. Robinson runs to the right side and is followed the whole way by the entire Bears defensive line. Gain of a few feet. I guess Vernon Davis is a tight end, who isn't satisfied with what he's done so far in this league, and he is reportedly and "emotional player." Good for him. Alex Smith doesn't think anything's working (he's right0 so he calls time out, hoping that will help. It won't. A GMC commercial at least affords me the opportunity to listen to Modern English for about thirty seconds. Now Alex Smith does his best Rex Grossman and fumbles a snap for a loss of two yards. 49ers are totally screwed. Alex Smith mouths "fuck," then the Bears replacement punt returner somebody James fumbles the punt. 49ers ball on the Bears six. I agree with Alex Smith. 49ers run up the middle for about a yard and a half. Another run up the middle gets 49ers to about the two yard line. It'd be nice to see a big stop here, but I'm predicting a 49ers touchdown. Let's see: yep. What a revoltin' development. Poor Drisan James just screwed up his only chance to make the Bears team.

Danieal Manning returns the kickoff and it looks like when anyone else returns a kickoff. Hester makes me spoiled. Benson runs for a loss of two, and the 49ers hope there's a tide being turned... Grossman throws it out of bounds over Rashied Davis's head, and somehow the Bears lost a yard on an incomplete pass: it goes from 2&12 to 3&13. Grossman hit as he throws to Clark; 49ers dback made a decent play to almost pick it off in front of Clark. Maynard bobbles the snap then runs for a first down. Go Bears special teams!!! Refs missed a hold by McGowan, according to 49ers comment guy. 9-yard throw to Berrian make sit 2nd and 1. Benson rumbles through the line for about three or four. 1st & 10 leads to 2nd & 10 after Benson is leveled at the line of scrimmage. Nice throw for about 25 yards to Mark Bradley. I heart Mark Bradley. Hope he breaks out this year. Reverse to Berrian picks up another first, I think. Yep. Now it's 1st & goal from about the six. Benson leans forward for four yards. He really looks consistent, but, like I said, it'd be encouraging to see a break every now and then from him. Grossman zips the ball into the back of the end zone to Clark, who spikes the ball emphatically almost before the cameraman catches up the ball. 24-10. There probably isn't much point for the Bears first team to play any more. I wonder if they will?

Michael Robinson fights pretty well for about three or four yards, and the 49ers guys try to plug him for us for a while. Like he matters playing behind Gore. Another couple of yards for Robinson. 3rd & 5 leads to a 1-yard sack shared by Briggs and Ogunleye. Rashied Davis watches the punt roll out of bounds. So far the 49ers punter is the only guy who hasn't fumbled a snap in this game.

Bears 1st team offense still in. Benson runs around the left side for about six yards after pushing a couple of guys off of him, and then McKie is clobbered for a loss of one yard. Peterson's in on 3rd & 6, and Walt Harris picks off a Grossman throw and takes it back for a touchdown. Grossman has 2 TDs and 1 Int. Can't really complain about that ratio, but I'm sure people will. It was a good play by Harris, not really a stupid mistake by Grossman. Actually, on replay, it looks like Olsen could've done more to make sure he got the ball rather than Harris, but he was falling away from the pass. 49ers miss the extra point.

Rashied returns the kickoff from the end zone to about the 22-yard line. No commercial break, so Grossman's back with the ball in his hands less than a minute after throwing an interception. The 49ers guys now are talking about how Grossman is terrible. He's the only quarterback in the league who would be getting that criticism right now after the game he's played today. There are legitimate complaints against him, but he's had a great game so far today. first play is another decent Benson run for about three, followed by Grossman throwing the ball out of bounds in the general direction of Davis. First down pass to Mike Haas. Lawson jumps McKie's route and was somewhat close to getting a second pick. Bears fans boo and grumble. Come on, Bears fans! Get it together! 49ers run Lawson talking about planning his celebrations. All well and good, but he still doesn't have anything to celebrate. Peterson takes a screen pass about eight yards; 4th and about two. Bears punting after two-minute warning. Williams calls for a fair catch, and still backs away in fear of the advancing Bears special teams. Nice.

Bears take the ball out of Robinson's hands, then Vasher picks up the fumble and runs backwards for a while, looking like he was trying to get some blockers set up in front of him, then runs back about twenty yards. Bears ball on 49ers twenty.

Benson stopped at the line of scrimmage. Mike Haas apparently in with the first team right now. Grossman to Olsen for about fifteen; Olsen knocked off a 49ers helmet on his way out of bounds. Olsen runs off the field with a limp-looking shoulder. Hopefully nothing serious. Doesn't look like it as no one's looking at Olsen on the sidelines. Grossman rolls out on 1st and Goal, then throws the ball out of bounds when nobody can get open, but 49ers had 12 dudes on the field, so it's first and goal from the 2.5 yard line. Benson loses a yard on a run at the left side. 49ers read that play perfectly. Peterson takes it up the left side into the end zone. After the extra point, it's 31-13. That's a palindrome! 49ers comment crew reports a lot of frustration in the 49ers coaching booth next to them. Natch. Now some footage of Bill George destroying people, followed by Dick Butkus, then Singletary. I love the Bears. Have I ever mentioned that?

The Bears kick the ball to the 49ers for the second time after the two-minute warning, and then the 49ers run the ball just so they don't look like pussies, and let the clock run out.

At half, Grossman is 13/20 with 211 yards, 2TDs and 1 INT. He only has one-third of the fumbled snaps so far. Anyone who complains about his play in this game so far is stupid, but I guarantee there are people who pretty much think he came out and fumbled the ball all over the field and threw all sorts of interceptions. Benson has continued to look like a solid workhorse back, but I really do think I'd feel a lot better about him if he could get a couple of big gains now and then. I just haven't seen him come close to doing that yet. The half-time show is about the 49ers "Gold Rush Girls." Lame. I'm glad the Bears don't have cheerleaders.

I think that's it for me and this liveblogginng thing for now. Tip of my hat to Mr. Strohl: this is really pretty hard. I'm just gonna watch the second half for fun.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Welcome Back, Pack

Pro Football Prospectus predicts that the Packers will win the NFC North this year. Frankly, that's crap. It won't happen. But the Packers really do look like they've decided to discontinue their two-year experiment with awfulness.

I'd read in various places, PFP included, about how the Packers defense had become one of the league's better defenses, but I really didn't watch much Pack football last year and I didn't really believe it. After watching the first half of the Pack/Jags game, I'm convinced. Green Bay's defense is pretty scary. They look like they want to be the best defense in the league. They won't be even be the best defense in their division, thanks to Chicago, but they definitely want it. Hawk and Barnett both look like they're ready to beat up on some people, and Green Bay's defensive line also looks really tough. They don't really have too much to brag about on secondary, though, so if teams can take advantage of that with some deeper throws early on, to make the LBs drop back into coverage (where they might be good, I don't know, Jacksonville is only good at running the ball).

On the other side of the ball. Favre doesn't look like he's close to needing to retire, but he spent most of the first half obviously pissed off at his receivers, so who knows if he'll stick around after taking all the passing records this year. Behind him, though, Aaron Rogers looks really good. Plus, he's now sporting an uber-macho handlebar mustache. He looks like he just arrived at the game from pounding some poor nerd in a biker bar--either that or he just stepped off a float at the Green Bay gay pride parade. What? They don't have those in Green Bay?

The Bears appear to have some legitimate competition for first place in the North. The Bears will still take it, but they might have to actually work for it this year.

Incidentally, FOX is advertising thusly, "The greatest NFL season anyone has ever broadcast is about to begin on FOX!" Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? Or is it some weird attempt to get people who don't really watch football to watch FOX this year or something? No one who cares about football really lets the station determine which games they watch; it's the teams. No one who doesn't care about football is going to watch, so why bother? All it does is annoy people like me. Knock it off, FOX.

All Wisty-Eyed

CBSSportsline finally has their camp preview of the Bears up, and while it's not an especially wonderful example of sports writing, it's still pretty fun for a Bears fan to read. Because it brings up the word "dynasty."

Which reminded me of something I wanted to get down here before I forget. I'll allow it a bit of setup. First, while I was watching the second half of the Bears-Colts game, I realized that this point in the game was way more interesting than three-fourths of the Giants-Ravens game on Sunday night. Sure, some of it probably has to do with my being just naturally more interested in the Bears than either of those teams, but a good deal of it was that the players on the field for the Bears (and probably the Colts, although not to such a degree) were far better players than the depths of the Giants or Ravens roster. During that Sunday game, it was obvious that most of the guys on the field were hardly ready to be out there, if they ever could be. In this game, though, Kevin Payne and Corey Graham, back ups for the secondary, practically took over the game for a while on defense, and looked like almost as much of a mismatch against the Colts lower-team offense as Brian Griese looked against the Colts defense. All of these guys are really too good to be playing backup positions, but the Bears actually have better people ahead of them. And then there were Greg Olsen and Garrett Wolfe. They both still look like rookies at this point, but they look like rookies with some freakish talents who really are going to be able to do a few nice things with just that talent, before they even grow into a true understanding of the pro game. It's nice to talk about depth, but it was really on display in this game. The Bears depth is for real.

At some point during the second half, the MNF crew started talking about Dungy's book and then about how great of a coach Dungy's been, and they mentioned that Dungy's taken his team to the playoffs for the past eight years. Six of those years Dungy's team was the Colts. I thought, how great would it have been to be a Colts fan all those years? Any of those six years, the Colts easily could have won the Super Bowl. Sure, the post-season disappointments, but that's all so much better than season after season sub .500 records. I'm not even really a Colts fan, but I've enjoyed watching them do it, every year having a team to cheer for going into the playoffs after the Bears were done with the regular season.

The thing is, I think Lovie Smith is nearly as good of a coach as Dungy, if not better. It's easy to get bogged down in the particulars of this season, and wondering if Grossman will every be able to cut out his mistakes, and to feel like this is the Bears' chance, they have to get the thing won this year, and if they don't then they're up and we'll be back to 6-10 hoping for some divine strike of a season like 2001 because that's about the best we could hope for. But if Smith manages to put together a career that approaches the consistency of Dungy's, the Bears could be Super Bowl contenders for the next six or seven years. Looking at the depth the Bears have assembled under their key positions, I really think Smith could do it. We really might be on the verge of a really great stretch of Bears fandom. And that has me way more excited than just the possibility that they might win the Super Bowl this year. It's just going to be so fun to be watching a team that's always in the playoffs, with all the intensity that comes with playoff games.

Some day, the Bears will be terrible again; it's just inevitable. But I'd be really surprised if that day comes sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rex Complex

People often chalk up Rex Grossman's poor quarterbacking moments to being a bad athlete, but that's really not the case. To the careful observer, it is obvious that Rex Grossman's quarterbacking problems are largely mental. When his mind is uncluttered, he looks like a really sharp, borderline Pro-Bowl quarterback. But when troubles invade his inner sanctum, shit hits the fan.

This aspect of Grossman's game is rarely reported on, however, because sports reporters have a hard time understanding complex psychologies. When they do write about them, it generally just comes out as a giant lump of shapeless drivel. Peruse your way through David Haugh's archives for examples. When he sticks to football, he's alright, but as soon as he tries to comment upon the vast uncertainties of the human mind, it's like reading the pathetic attempts at self-expression of a lobotomy victim. Poor guy.

Fortunately, I am on my way to becoming a professional Creative Writer, which means that I am capable of understanding and describing the stream of a person's consciousness. After extensive imaginary conversations with Mr. Grossman, I am now able to present a generalized description of his thoughts during the game last night. We pick up just after Grossman has demonstrated his newfound ability to step up in the pocket and "scramble," resulting a beautiful 28-yard pass to Bernard Berrian:

"Man, that throw was totally sweet! That must have looked like a vintage Favre throw! Or Dan Marino! I bet this is how Dan Marino must have felt all the time. Oh, wow. Exhilerating! I have finally arrived, you know! My shit is going on! I bet everyone watching this is totally jealous of how great I look out here right now. I should just go ahead and draft myself on my fantasy team this year. I bet I'm gonna go so low that I'll just be an insane deal for anyone who gets me. This'll be great! Oh, man, I wanna do that again! Come on pass rush! Try and take me! Oh, I wanna just fuckin whip this rock into somebody's chest! I wanna make their heart hurt! I wanna shove it right in--what the?! OH SHIT! Dude just knocked the ball out of my hands!!! Fall on it! Fall on it! Got it! Huh.... Dammit... That sucked. Ugh... Come on... shake it off... It's okay... Alright. Just, you know, focus on the next play. Okay... Wow. I just fumbled. Shitty. But, I mean, it's not like it matters. It's preseason... Hm... Wait, yeah, that's right. It doesn't matter. I mean, I whipped that ball twenty-eight yards, and it felt great, and now I fumbled, and it feels terrible... but... both plays... I mean... both plays just... god... I mean, both plays matter exactly the same amount... Why am I even out here? Fucky... It's just all so goddamn pointless. Ha! I could do literally anything out here, and it wouldn't matter at all! I mean, I could throw an interception from my own 14-yard line! Like that! Here, Mr. Colts, take the ball! Hahaha! Oooooh, an interception! Now everyone's gonna be all, "Bad Rex is back!" Ha! Fuck. Those. Tards. It's preseason, right? Hey? God, I don't even want to be here. Seriously. It's bad enough that most things I do in real life don't matter. I mean, I've read The Stranger just like the President, I know that you could go and kill an Arab on a beach for no reason and it really wouldn't matter... It's just all so pointless... everything... Which, when you think about it, I mean... Wow, I've never realized it before, but that's why I love football so much! It creates this tiny little world where stuff actually matters, y'know? When I'm playing football, it's easy to see the actual, tangible, meaningful consequences of my actions! All the rules are consistent! It's like this oasis of meaning and sanity in an absurd, meaningless world... But, now, here I am, out on the field... The football field, where I should be safe from meaninglessness, where ennui can't get to me, but... it's fucking preseason... and nothing matters... Augh! They've robbed me of my only sanctuary! You miserable fucking shitting bastards! This is so meaningless that I could just drop the snap, like this, hahahahahahaha, Whoop! There it is! On the ground! AND IT DOESN'T GODDAMN MATTER! How 'bout I just do it again! There you go! Good-bye ball! On the ground! Whoop de do! Flurple flopple! Oh... Jesus H... I need some Jack in me... well, at least I'm getting paid, right? God.. I just wanna get out of here. Maybe if I just take the ball into the end zone myself they'll let me not have to stand out here through this worthless shit anymore..."

All of which means that as long as Grossman manages to cling to the meaning-bubble created by a regular season football game, we Bears fans should be fine. But I hope new Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton keeps Grossman away from the French literature, for goodness sakes.
The first thing I noticed today, the day after Rex brought doubting him back into vogue, is that the Daily Herald are the only Chicago media source that employs good sports writers. The saddest thing is that they only have one story a day usually. But their game recap is what sports reporting should be. Instead we're subjected to people like Mariotti and Rosenbloom who jump at every chance to insult the flavor of the day and never offer any insight to those of us who aren't lucky enough to get paid to offer other people information about Chicago sports.
About the game, I think the snap problem is a total fluke, and a glove on Rex's left hand should take care of any worry. The real issue is that the Bears O-line doesn't look great and Fred Miller in particular appears a step slow. If this insn't fixed we're gonna see a lot of short passes this year, which doesn't really suit the strengths of the offence.
The good news is that Graham played excellent, and he's still in a fierce battle to make the team. Hass deliverd some great plays but is still well behind Rideau, if Rideau's ankle injury isn't serious. Garay showed up on a few plays and I assume must be pushing Adams for a roster spot. I assume Idonije is a lock and I haven't heard much about Adams. Okwo and Bazuin have also been mostly invisable thus far, but I don't get to watch practice. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know how the battles were looking in the heat of camp, not just under the lights!?
Finally, Payne had an incredible night. And Briggs looks like he's worth every dollar in the stack of 7.2 million that he has in his living room. Williams and Wilson also deserve note for being very physical and on screen almost every play in the 2-3 quarters.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This Is Just to Say

In fewer than twenty-four hours, the Bears will be playing the Colts on Monday Night Football. I'm excited about it, because it's the first time I'll get to see the Bears at all this season.

But, once again, it's preseason. There might be some pre-macho part of me that hopes the Bears come out with all fists pounding to pulverize the Colts for the first quarter when both teams' first units will be out. That probably won't happen, though, if they did come out with something like that in mind.

If special teams doesn't improve upon their apparently lax performance last week, it might be time to admit that their special teams just might not be as good as it was last year.

If Rideau outperforms Mike Haas tomorrow, I imagine it'll pretty much seal his place at that spot. The only question that will remain is if that spot will even exist.

Those are about the only two actually important things I can think of to watch for tomorrow. Other than that, it's all about fine-tuning everything. As happy as I am that I get to watch it, I sort of think it's funny that this stuff gets televised nationally.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oakland: Where Former Vikings Go to Die

I miss Daunte Culpepper. Sure, it was infuriating to watch him roll up so many points for the Vikings, but it was always fun to watch him play against the Bears, where the defense could be counted on to take advantage of his fumbling fetish. Sometimes it didn't even seem to have anything to do with the defense; he's just drop back and apparently forget he had the ball. High comedy. When Moss went to Oakland, it appeared that he only brought the negative aspects of his game and forgot where he put the good parts. Culpepper seems to be off to a good start at following in the footsteps of his former friend (/adversary?). From Mike Tanier's description of Culpepper's first few plays for Oakland the other night:

"Culpepper took the field midway through the third quarter and promptly fumbled a snap. On his next possession, Culpepper dropped to pass, got sacked, and fumbled on the 4-yard line."

I really hope Culpepper's starting for Oakland by Nov. 11. With Oakland's line, it will be like the Bears are playing with a 2-apple rush on. I'd like to see Culpepper shoot for a new record for fumbles by a single player in one game.

Happy Bears

Yay! Bears football is officially back today! I was kinda bummed because I missed it, but I missed it to play free early-eighties vintage video games all day, so that's okay. And then I came home to see if I could find out what happened in the game today, and there on the chicagosports website was Rahula Strohl's brand new Bear With Us game liveblog thing! I'd completely forgotten about it, and my sudden rediscovery has just made me so happy. Here's a highlight:

"the Texans returner (didn't get a name, sorry) breaks through the first wave and up the sideline, then tries to make it a big play by cutting back to the middle of the field, where he gets leveled in the open field by Adrian Peterson shy of midfield. Note to kick and punt returners: If you want to break one against the Bears, I don't care how open the field looks beyond him, don't run in the direction of AP. He will end your return."

I want Rahula Strohl to be my friend.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Hate Preseason When It's Not Polite

The Bears play their first preseason game tomorrow, which means it's time for all the sports media to show just how stupid they are by analyzing the game like the final score and victor are in any way the point of preseason games. Hint: they're not.

I watched a little bit of the St. Louis/Minnesota game today, and I have to say, Tavaris (or Tarvaris?) Jackson actually looked like he might know what he's doing behind center for the Vikings. Which was a little disheartening. I was hoping I'd get a season's worth of revenge for that Bears game we saw in the Metrodome when Henry Burris played the most comically bad game of football I've ever witnessed. Instead, Jackson looked fairly poised and ran the ball forward very effectively a few times. Of course, St. Louis didn't to much to make it difficult for him, so it's hard to tell how he'll react to a playoff-caliber defense, or even a halfway decent NFL quality defense. He didn't score any touchdowns, which is what the Strib article I read was mostly pissed about, but he was only in for a the first few drives, and they were his first ever starting for an NFL team, I think, right? Did he start a few games at the end of last season?

Anyway, I won't get to see any of the Bears game tomorrow, because I'm going to this, which I'd already decided to go to before I even knew it would be a possibility that I'd be able to watch the Bears game. Only one of the SOPcasts I tried worked today, so I'm just going to convince myself the Bears/Texans one wouldn't work tomorrow. But what's especially frustrating is that I'm not at all confident I'll be able to find anywhere a discussion of what happens in the game tomorrow that will actually discuss anything of possible importance that could happen tomorrow.

And, really, this is pretty much it:

-if Orton plays significantly better than Griese, it would be another significant step for claiming the backup spot, which would make him just one more Grossman freak accident from being the starter again. (At what point last season did the primary knock against Grossman switch from his inability to stay healthy to his neurotic brain? In any case, I wonder if he'll ever get to start a season with people thinking mostly positive things about him?) I'm kind of rooting for Orton to overtake Griese. Mainly because, I think, Orton said his dream vacation destination is Iowa. That's just so cute! Also, Griese's name is a homonym for greasy, which is a synonym for sleazy, which makes it hard for me not to think Griese must be a total sleaze ball.

-all those receivers battling it out for a roster position that may not even exist. I'd say it's only about a 50/50 shot the Bears will even keep a sixth receiver. If they do, I think it'll be because they don't expect Hester to end up being the type of receiver option they can count on as more than a novelty (even so, he'd be a hell of a novelty), and they want one more receiver who could potentially be an every-other-down receiver if injuries start to pile up. From the sounds of it, there are actually some pretty talented guys playing for the spot, especially David Ball and Mike Hass. Watching these guys try to make a play every single time they get to move should be pretty fun. And there might be three sentences about it in the Chicago Press.

Meanwhile, there will be a at least one entire article about how undominating the defense was against the hapless Texan offense. The article will make it sound like that matters. Get worried, Bears fans!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dante Wesley to the Patriots?!

This sucks. I didn't feel all that strongly one way or the other about Dante Wesley, but just about the only weakness the Patriots appeared to possibly have this year was their secondary, what with Asante Samuel pulling a Lance Briggs over there and some other guy being all injured. The thing is, Wesley is actually good, and it seems likely he'll end up with significant playing time for the Pats. Which means now this will happen: When the Bears meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl, up by only three points with a minute and a half to go, Rex Grossman will get so excited that he'll forget you don't have to go deep for a TD when you have the ball and the lead with almost none time left, and he'll launch a deep ball directly to Wesley, who will then scamper back for a TD. Game over. Belichick will scowl boredly on the sidelines, hoping none of the guys can smell the pit odor wafting off his unwashed hoody/rag thing he wears, but then he'll figure, Fuck it, these guys don't matter to me, I'll smell however the hell bad I want to smell, I'm goddamn Bill Belichick and I just won more Super Bowls than Jesus, Hell, I'll just shit my pants right here on the sidelines because I can do that, normal rules just don't apply to me, no one can make me take a bath or wash my clothes, I don't want to enjoy anything, screw everybody here, God it's loud, God I hate it here. This will happen. Angelo just pretty much guaranteed it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Laurence Holmes, on the Other Hand, is a Wonderful Camp Correspondent

The very end of Haugh's latest thing contains this little snippet:

"Even after seven seasons in Chicago, linebacker Brian Urlacher only reveals his personality in snippets. Another one came Monday night in an interview with Zach Zaidman on WSCR-AM's 'Bears All Access,' when Urlacher addressed the realities of his fame.

'I'll never be able to be the way I want to be or who I was,' Urlacher said. 'That's just the price you pay for the job I have.'

Of the Bears' signature Cover-2 defense, Urlacher summed it up well. 'I don't like it,' he said. 'But it works.'

Especially interested to hear more of the context of Urlacher's quote about not liking the Cover-2, I decided to head on over to the WSCR website to see if the interview with Urlacher was archived anywhere. What I stumbled upon was so much cooler:

Laurence Holmes, who is apparently the host of something called "The Me Show," has been keepinga daily Bears Blog of camp so far. It's really good. He manages to give you a good sense of what the practices are like, of the personalities of the players and so on, along with tons of information of how practices are going and who's performing well, etc. Too bad the website is gross. It looks like it was designed in the mid-nineties. And, once again, no .rss feed... wtf?

David Haugh is a worthless camp correspondant

While Brandon McGowan was outplaying Chris Harris for the reserve safety spot, Haugh was whining about Briggs not offering the fans enough. The next day Haugh arrogantly post-covered the Harris trade as totally not surprising, saying that "the only people who didn't sense the inevitability of a move at the overstocked position seemed to be the ones who play it." While, them and you jackass! The story is mostly about how surprised Haugh is that the Bears are sold on Archuleta and McGowan. Maybe if he'd take the time to report on who's looking good in camp to those of us who aren't paid to watch training camp we could have seen it coming! Days later it turns out that Briggs is actually "High on the fans' list" and Dante Wesley wasn't even invited to Soldier Field and is offically on his way out the door. A development sprung on us after the fact due to a lack of reporting about McBride's leve of play. Another indication that Haugh has no idea how to do his fucking job!

Daily Herald Equals Daily (relatively) Awesome

I'd never checked it out before, but looking at the recent lists of articles they've posted, The Daily Herald has some pretty good sports reporting going on. They've even got an article about Wesley's demotion (which contained the fact, not mentioned elsewhere, that Wesley wasn't even at the Family Day practice tonight, he's that gone) and McBride's correspondent ascension. What's more, the article somehow manages to be informative without even mentioning(!) McBride's stuttering. If there were even the slightest chance that he'd read this, I'd say, "Hey, David Haugh! You should be taking notes!" Now if only The Daily Herald would join the modern world and publish an .rss feed...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

David Haugh Longs to One Day Write Stories for a Rural Weekly

How else to explain Haugh's tendency to cling desperately to the softest angle he can find when turning in garbage like tonight's piece about Trumaine McBride.

What makes this piece especially galling is that there actually is a story about McBride that would be really interesting to read. Buried in John Mullin's tiny headlined piece about tonight's practice at Soldier Field is this little nugget:

"Cornerback Dante Wesley, signed by the Bears in 2006 from the Carolina Panthers, is headed elsewhere. He was made expendable by the rapid development of rookie Trumaine McBride. "Dante is not in our plans anymore," Smith said. "We're seeing what options there are out there for him."

Now, the last I'd read, it sounded like Wesley was having an extremely good camp. Whereas I can't remember hearing much about McBride before. The fact that Smith has apparently decided to trade Wesley really speaks to how well McBride must have been doing in camp so far. So if you also happen to be running an article about McBride, why not make it about how surprisingly well he's performed?

Mr. Haugh? "Because McBride is a stutterer!!! OMFGWTF!!! Who knew they even allow stutterers in the NFL?!! And, like, he has overcome his stuttering!!! To play in the NFL!!! While he stutters!!! Hoo-Doggy!!! This'll get me that Pulitzer for sure!!!"

It seems to me that, as compelling as McBride's stuttering may be, the way to do this article would be to make it about how McBride has been playing extremely well in camp. I mean, he was a seventh round pick that you wouldn't have been surprised to never hear about again, and he's playing so well that he's managed to already replace the guy in front of him—an entrenched backup who had been singled out multiple times over the last two years for performing exceedingly well in training camp. You throw in a few quotes from McBride about everything he's learned from the coaches, along with a few quotes from coaches about how surprisingly good he's looked, how he has picked up everything really fast. Then, to add a bit of the human angle to the story, throw in the interesting tidbit that McBride stutters, which, oh btw, is something he has in common with Adrian Peterson.

Instead, Haugh makes the stuttering the focus of the article. Every single quote in the article is about how McBride has had to overcome his stuttering. I counted only four sentences that mention McBride's football skills without also mentioning stuttering.

And how's this for unintentional irony: "As sensitive as Smith is to what McBride has overcome with his language, he doesn't want anybody to overlook how uncommon the statement he has made this early in his first NFL camp is either." Yeah. Congratulations, Haugh. You just did overlook that.

God I miss KC Johnson.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bears Offense Sucks (Ssshhh!!!)

I'm currently enjoying a little schadenfreude reading about Moss's leg injury keeping him out of practice. I like Moss, but I don't know why the jerkface had to go and play for my two least favorite teams. And when he did go and play for a team I do like he spent the whole time slacking and being lame. I can't really hope a speedy recovery for him until either the Pats are firmly out of playoff contention or he's playing for another team, neither of which are likely to happen any time soon. So I guess that means I'm hoping that Moss's minor leg injury keeps him from playing football ever again. Wow I'm a jerk. But I am stubbornly hoping that the Patriots offense doesn't turn out to be as awesome as the consensus believes they will be.

On the other hand, I'm willing to buy all of the reports about the Bears offense looking really good so far this year. I have no problem believing that Grossman could have really gotten better in the off-season, mainly because it seemed obvious that his biggest problems were mental. When he felt comfortable it was fun to watch him; he seemed smooth. But it was obvious, as the season went on, he wasn't really able to make himself stay comfortable on the field for very long, culminating in the second Vikings game which was about as close as you'll ever get to seeing a professional athlete lose control of his bowels on national (or, what, regional? I watched it in San Francisco...) television. But, hey, I've been there. When I took Spanish my first semester at the University of South Dakota, I started off clean and smooth, picking everything up right away and not even having to study to stay ahead of the class. But we soon progressed to harder stuff and I got passes pretty quickly, so before I knew it I was sitting in front of a test quaking because I knew absolutely none of the answers. After that, even though I studied hard and managed to pull of a passing grade in the class, I never felt fully comfortable with any of it. A weird thing happened, though, during the year I took off of Spanish. It all sunk in. So when I came back and took Spanish 200, it was so much easier than I thought it'd be. I'd actually learned everything before, it was just that it took a while for my mind to become completely comfortable with it. And that has made all the difference.

Since quarterbacking an NFL team is so similar to trying to pass Spanish class, I've convinced myself something similar will happen with Grossman. He blew by the first few weeks, but then he thought he didn't need to learn anything new and got hopelessly behind, and so even though he actually did progress quite a bit in the last few games of the season and into the post-season (not counting the GB game, of course, which, I mean, come one, the game meant nothing, he's a person, can we really blame him for not caring?), but he just never managed to get completely comfortable with all of it. So now, after a break, his mind's had time to get fully wrapped around what he learned, and everything will probably seem a lot easier this season. Provided, of course, he doesn't get as cocky as what led to his downfall last season.

Plus, by all reports, the offense has gotten way faster. Berrian's looking even better; Bradley's healthy for the first time and having an amazing camp; Hester is looking like he'll work on offense much better than anyone hoped; and Greg Olsen is a 6'5" freak. At least if you believe everything coming out of mini-camp. Which I do. For fun.

But what's really got me excited about the Bears offense this season is that it's a commonly known fact that they suck. Grossman's terrible. Benson can't stay healthy. Their receivers suck. I don't know how much perceptions like that actually effect other teams' game planning, my guess is not all that much, but even if the Bears offense manages to play better than I think they will, it's still going to take until probably the tenth or eleventh week for that perception to waver. People will still expect them to start sucking until then. People probably will think that they suck all season anyway, even if they don't. They'll have no shot to win a playoff game. And not a chance in hell to win the Super Bowl. I hope that's how it turns out anyway, for the completely selfish reason that it's so much more fun to cheer for a team no one expects to do anything than a team everyone expects to dominate everybody. It makes me feel like I know something that other people don't.

It Worked!

"For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues." Mark 3:10

Wow! Never again shall I doubt the power of prayer! I spent all day muttering to myself the Hamstring Healing Prayer, and lo and behold, Hester returned to practice this evening! Of course, it's hard for me not to see such immediate action from God as a veiled threat... Now, I must walk only the true strait and narrow, for fear that any wavering will result in a retaliatory smiting of Devin Hester's leg from Our Mighty Lord!

Also, Go Defense! The article that buried the mention of Hester's return to practice is really about how the defense rose to Bob Babich's challenge to get six turnovers in practice. That's what I like to hear! Bear Down!

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Prayer of Healing for Devin Hester's Hamstring

I have to admit, I'm getting a little bit scared about Devin Hester's hamstring.

In 2004, Urlacher's hamstring first asserted its presence during the first weeks of training camp, and it kept messing with Urlacher throughout the season. Everyone kept insisting it was getting better, but Urlacher just never seemed to be playing at full speed that season. Then his leg blew up in week 11, and he missed the most important game of the season against Inianapolis, leading to a 41-10 loss. Urlacher's hamstring wasn't mentioned, but hamstrings are like the mafia Dons of leg ligaments: nothing goes down without the hamstring's permission.

The reports about Hester's hamstring are not as ominous sounding as those of Urlacher's were, but Hester pretty much sat out of training camp all week. Lovie can say that it's more precaution than anything, but that sounds an awful lot like spin to me. Regardless of how amazing Hester initially looked with the offense, he's new to the position and if he's going to be an effective offensive weapon, he needs as much time as he can working with the offense. Each day Hester just hangs out on the sidelines yukking it up with Moose is a wasted day that could greatly diminish his effectiveness.

Hamstrings are a serious issue, and like many a scared helpless relative before me, I would like to turn my my worry about Hester's Hamstring over to The Lord. One need look no further than The New Jerusalem Church on the Rock to see the gravity of the situation. Here we see that "A big problem that naturally occurs when peoples are hamstrung without freedom to develop and become righteously productive is that the hardships are heavily, overly balanced through lack of the 'goodships', so that persons are not easily reached by proper, righteous, balanced reasoning." During the opening days of training camp, Hester was able to provide all of us Bears fans with plenty of goodships to be thankful for. But the Hamstring has become a tool of the devil, surrounding our hearts and Hester's body with heavy hardships. And so, I'd like to offer this evening a prayer of Healing for Devin Hester's Hamstring:


each and every day I see You
Working Miracles in lives, in hamstrings,
and I know that with You all things are Possible.

Therefore with great confidence, we do ask,
that You will Continue to Guide us,
we that love Your Righteousness and Freedom,
towards the hamstring healing that we need
for our spiritual and worldly Salvation.

As ever, we pray for all who are in harm's way,
and for them with an insufficient hamstrings,
we ask for Your Healing to Prevail among them.


(adapted from

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Preseason Viewing Guide

This could be one of the most entertaining seasons ever! With the exception of McKie and Hillenmeyer, the entire starting line-up could realistically make the Pro-bowl. It won't happen, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

Grossman's second year could be every bit as good as his sophomore year at Florida. It sounds like he fixed his irksome tendency to run backwards and throw against his body every fourth play or so, and all game every fourth game or so. And even if he didn't, Kyle Orton spent the entire offseason turning into an NFL quality backup. With shotgun back in and 10 wins under his belt already, the passing game seems in pretty good hands. My only question is, if Chris Leak plays well enough that he can't be hidden on the practice squad for a year will the Bears hold four quarterbacks or are Griese's days numbered?

Benson is ready for at least 1500 yards—probably more like 1800 if he gets the bulk of the carries, and if Ron Turner doesn't start to think that it's too fun to throw to the ridiculous receiving corps below and totally stop running around week 9. Peterson has always shown potential and will be a sufficient backup, and I'm seriously excited about seeing Wolfe and/or Hester in the backfield.

Berrian could be the best deep threat in the NFL. Hester might be better at Reggie Bush than Reggie Bush. Davis plays the slot very well and is a better sixth option than most teams have. Bradley's back in the exact same situation as last year and Muhammed is now barely mentioned as the sure-handed, wily vet who will probably do most of his damage on third down and in the end zone. The question here will be the fates of Hass, Ball and James, all of whom I'm excited about watching during preseason.

Olsen and Clark will prove unstoppable.

The only real concern for this season is the lack of depth and age of the OLine: if Tait goes down or if two of the starters get hurt the Bears will be vulnerable, but otherwise the Chargers, Eagles and Broncos games should be the only possible blemishes.

The defense should be back to their Craig Krenzel-Kyle Orton days of domination. Lovie's scheme is simple and relies on speed and athletecism more than brains. The Bears have a ton of the first two and just enough of the last, with probably one of the fastest rosters ever.

Tommie Harris is back. Walker is an upgrade at Nose, and Dvoracek and Adams are upgrades from Scott and Boone. Idonije is great depth. Garray and Bazuin better get healthy quick or they're likely to get cut or put on IR respectively.

The linebackers are great, everyone knows this, and Williams and Okwo will both be more than adequate cover by midseason.

And the defensive backfield fits Lovie perfectly with Archuleta back in his system and McGowan, Manning and Payne much more athletic reserves than Harris, Worrell and Johnson were. The interesting question will be if Wesley stays ahead of McBride and Graham.

All around there is enough depth to lose two starters from each group and still have at least two pro-bowlers on the field.

The kickers are great. The returners are just as good. But the preseason fun will be watching Leak, Hass and Ball try to earn roster spots based on position play against both Ayanbadejo's, Wilson, Wesley, Graham and McBride working to make the team primarily on special teams.

Chris Harris Won't Have to Worry about Steve Smith Anymore

According to the Bears have just traded Chris Harris to the Panthers for a 2008 draft pick. Harris played extremely well as a rookie in 2005, and I thought he was poised for a breakout season last year. But he pretty much failed to break out. With Brown and Archuleta as the starters and Manning and McGowan the apparent backups, it was hard to see where Harris would fit in this year. Still, I kind of liked the guy, largely because of this Every Play Counts article from Football Outsiders in 2005, and I hate to see him shucked off to that stinkhole Carolina. But Angelo does like his draft picks. He was down one after the Walker trade, and safety is a spot with kind of extra depth at this point, so from that standpoint the trade makes sense.

Now, if only we had readers... I just checked the Bears home page and the front page poll is "which safety will have the most interceptions in 2007?" One option is Chris Harris, who I then voted for because I just couldn't resist. There could be a campaign to get Harris the lead in votes before they switch the question! Oh that would be funny! Reality would probably collapse in on itself, and suddenly we'd find ourselves living in a world in which there never were any Carolina Panthers, and Chris Harris would be a lonely mechanic living in the Arizona desert, filled with some horrible feeling that this just wasn't how it was supposed to be, and he'd pause every ten minutes to wipe his forearm across his sweaty brow and stare off into the sun-baked distance, waiting for something he just couldn't name...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let Us Now Praise Darwin Walker

He hasn't even played a game for the Bears yet, but already I'm in love with this guy. The Bears signed Walker to a long-term deal after having him for only like five days, so either they've suddenly gone crazy or they see something really special here. I'm willing to believe it's the latter.

But here's why I really love Walker today: he has his own website! And it's hilarious! Check out, especially, his To-Do-List, where he keeps track of all the quarterbacks he's faced and puts "SACKED!" across their face when he's got 'em. It's like those abortion-doctor hit-list sites, except not creepy and way funnier. I really hope he updates the site for the Bears season. Maybe he could convince other Bears defenders to set up similar sites.

Bizarro John Clayton Hearts Bears?

Apparently, John Clayton has been replaced by his Bizarro-world doppelgänger, because his little article about Bears camp is filled with nothing but praise for the Bears. Plus, there's this:

"The story of camp is Hester. Bears beat writer John Mullin officially named the 2007 camp, "The Devin Hester Experience." Watching him run routes is like listening to old Jimi Hendrix records -- explosive, exciting and unpredictable. Any fan would love to hang from the "Watchtower" to see the show."

There is no effing way John Clayton, the Mr. Mackey of the real world, has ever listened to old Jimi Hendrix records. I imagine that even if he sat there listening to Hendrix by himself, on headphones, he'd look around uncomfortably grinning and hunching his shoulders, waiting for the cool kids to come in and take the record away from him. "Silly Mr. Mackey! Hendrix is for stoners and jocks! Here's your favorite Burl Ives record. Do yourself a favor and stop pretending to be what your not!" Then, of course, they'd punch him on the shoulder and laugh-grunt their way out of the room.

And why the hell would you want to "hang" from the watchtower? Why not just stand on top of it, where it'd be easier to watch and you wouldn't have to worry about losing your grip and falling to your death?

It is kind of exciting to hear all this stuff about the Bears offense suddenly being so fast. Even though it makes me a little worried that the defense apparently isn't creaming them. Offense is all well and good, but the Bears just aren't as fun to watch when the other team's offense isn't clobbered into submission by midway through the third quarter...