I want to start today by noting that I believe in the power of optimism. When a person is able to continually focus on positive thinking, feelings, and outcomes, I am one of those whackos who actually believes that can have a directly positive influence on that person's life. That being said, I think the Bears players and management are simply drinking heavily before each interview or press conference they give.
Think about it; this explains a handful of odd occurrences. Consider the obvious weaknesses highlighted in the team's preseason with the ceaseless confidence seeping from every soundbite players, coaches, and higher-ups have given us, it is apparent that the Bears:
- Have not been conscious during any "practice" during training camp
- Forgot about each preseason-whipping immediately following each game
- Believe they have won numerous championships in recent history
- Think that each Bear fan is deaf, dumb, and blind
If so many people within Bears' organization have had this happen to them and have committed to such beliefs, is not near alcoholism the only reasonable explanation for all of this? Consider, now, what actually happened:
- There was no blocking for Jay Cutler last year, and this preseason has looked even worse
- The offense looked sloppy at best, both in training camp and the preseason
- The Bears stumbled their way to an 0-4 preseason with a litany of concerns presenting themselves in every aspect of the game
- The team has not made the playoffs since losing the Superbowl to the Colts in '06-'07
- Throughout the offseason, training camp, the preseason, and, now, the week leading up to the first game of the season, Bears players, coaches, and management have all pumped nothing but ill-conceived ego down fans' throats
All fans have heard is how amazing this new offense will be, what a genius both Mike Martz and Jay Cutler are, how quickly the smart (are you kidding me?!) wide receivers are picking up the new playbook, what a big impact the unable-to-block Greg Olsen will be in a scheme which demands the TE to block, how the same defense that has been average at best over the past three seasons will somehow once again become dominant, and how this coaching staff, fronted by a man with growing arrogance and rapidly shrinking results, filled with exiles from dismantled staffs around the league, is a super-group of minds that will do nothing but extract only the best results from the aging, talent-stunted roster they have to work with.
As I said, I am an optimist. I urge people to look into the power of positive thinking, and the Bears are right: if all of this turns out to be true, then it should be a very exciting season for the Bears. However, what this actually looks like is a team absolutely plagued with questions, weaknesses, aging veterans, strong egos, and not enough talent to overcome any of those issues. I don't expect the Bears to be as bad as they have looked thus far, but that is about as bad as it could get. Likewise, much of this could improve and bring the team to a respectable position in the league once again.
In the end, the ceiling is decently high for the 2010-11 Chicago Bears, but it's a long damn crawl up from where they are now, and the basement appears to be a bottomless pit. If the team doesn't sharpen-up within the first three to four weeks of the regular season, look out for the edge of that abyss Bear fans: once the team falls in, they likely aren't climbing up again any time soon. [View the Bears' 2010-11 Season Schedule]
At best I see the Bears going 9-7, or possibly 10-6 and eeking their way into the playoffs. Realistically, I think the Bears will be much like they were last season, and the one before that. They will tease us by staying close in a number of games that they ultimately lose, while going on one or two impressive, but small, streaks, and finishing around 7-9 or .500. The scary part is that this roster simply could be a 5-13, 4-12, or maybe even worse, football team.
I'll lay 7-9 out there as my prediction for the Bears this year. I will hope for better, and be continuously paranoid about an epic failure until they reach that seven-win mark. At that point, we will have to hope that nine losses is enough for the team to move on from Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo, and (fingers crossed) Ted Phillips. The worst part of the team surprising us all and succeeding in making the playoffs this year is that we know we will be stuck with the same regime for at least one more year.
I guess the silver lining going into the opening kickoff of the new season is that, either way, Bears fans will have a silver lining. We can either deal with a terrible or mediocre season and hope that Lovie and others get the boot, or we can cling to a surprising winning season and pray for the team to somehow surprise us all again in the playoffs. All we know is that we don't really know anything about this team yet; things could easily go either way.
Something tells me, though, however things go, that I'd enjoy it all the much more if I got some of the Bears' preseason Kool-aid. That stuff must be strong!