I only have one rule about being a Chicago Bears fan. If one of your best friends, who also happens to love the club, emails you from South Africa with concerns...there are concerns. (Even if this individual happens to always be concerned.) His email subject line, "this is why i worry", made me laugh. Why? (1) Because it should be the title of the Reverend's autobiography. (2) Because he really is in South Africa, worrying.
The quarterback is as good as advertised. The running backs and tight ends are the team's strength. The wide receivers have surprised even me. Defensive line and linebackers? Talented, inspired by new coaching and reportedly motivated. This leaves the secondary - the subject of Reverend's email. And we have a phrase in the theatre for what the Bears have done with the secondary (I'm sure it exists elsewhere too). When the structure of a piece is off and you simply make small edits. We call it rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
This is not a Doomsday report, announcing the demise of the Super Bowl hopes of our charter franchise. After only a week of practice, nothing is as hopeful or dire as fans in the current NFL like to make them. But one can't help but notice that almost all of the club's question marks are among a unit that ranked 30th in passing yards allowed, was brutal on third down conversions and became the object of opposing offensive coordinators' wet dreams down the stretch.
But the bigger question might be...
...does it matter? Outside of
Peanut, have any of these players instilled the kind of confidence that
makes their presence in NFL action more important than the next guy?
These guys failed in 2008 and failed often. Yes, they found themselves
getting thrown on every down from about October on. (1st in attempts by 17 - almost a full game over the Chargers) Yes, they lacked any form of substantial pass rush. (22nd in the league).
Yes, they picked off 22 passes, ranking them third in the NFL, but that
number must be qualified. Of the five teams with 22 or more picks, the
Bears picked off the lowest percentage of total passes (3.53). The
Ravens (4.92), Browns (5.15), Packers (4.25) and Bucs (4.63) each were
substantially more successful at turning the ball over in the air.
what's the verdict, you might ask? Who the fuck knows. What I do know
is this unit should not be expected to become Richardson, Frazier,
Duerson and Fencik. They'll be serviceable at times, terrible at
others and - in those rarest of moments - capable of altering the
course of the game. But it'll be up to the quarterback and offense to
compensate by putting more points on the board. It'll be up to the
defensive line and their apparently God-like position coach to pressure
opposing quarterbacks into making bad decisions. It's be up to Mr.
Smith to do his best impression of Mr. Bellichick and put these
underwhelming guys in position to make overwhelming plays.
it'll be Strawberry Fields for Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben, Matt Hasselbeck,
Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer and another hollow January.