Thursday, August 23, 2007

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.

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