Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
By Frankie O
As Bears fans bask in the glow of Sundays domination of the Eagles, instead of giving me a ton of grief, they give me a ton and all ask the same question: What do I think of the Bears now? I dont believe that its because a bartenders opinion is going to seal the deal, but rather part of a larger quest. Besides the burning desire to learn oneself, there is always that need to define others. When it concerns the local heroes, this is always taken to a new level. The essence of any sports discussion, or in the bar read: argument, is the ability to clearly and accurately describe what we have witnessed and how it will affect the future. People want to know. Who am I? Or who I am? Those are two completely different questions! This was forever etched in our sports consciousness after one of the most famous melt-downs ever, the Dennis Green The Bears are who we thought they were! rant after a Monday night game in which his team had a melt-down and handed the Bears the game. While us fans found what he said, and especially how he said it, to be hysterical, it brought to the fore the questions that keep my bar lively.
This couldnt be more true than in the discussions of this years Bears. The two biggest faces, Jay and Lovie, and the team itself have been analyzed over and over. (Analyze This!) Ill start with Jay. After his heroes welcome upon his trade here, no one has endured more scorn since he began playing. Throwing an average of two picks a game will do that. But also its the demeanor thing. The public has a perception of how it wants its star quarterback to look, feel and PLAY like. Cutler so far, obviously, has been all over the road in his play. The thing that loses him support is that when discussing his play, he looks completely disinterested to the point of boredom. Doesnt he realize how serious this is? Why do you think Derek Anderson is taking so much heat for being caught smiling and laughing on the sideline Monday night while his team was getting hammered? For fans its just as important that you carry yourself as a winner as it is winning, well when youre losing anyway, if you win, do whatever you want. ALL is forgiven with winning. That the Bears are winning now, and hes playing very well, has brought some understanding or should I say acceptance to his personality quirks. He also earned points with his rant towards the officials, for sticking up for his teammates. Funny, not too long ago the same act would have been vilified around here not too long ago for him once again being petulant. This is the same Cutler, just one who seems to be figuring out his third offense in three years, and one who for the first time in his career is playing on a team with a defense that can make a difference.
Lovie is a fun one to discuss now. I havent felt the overwhelming support for him yet, and I find that a little puzzling. Heres a guy that was given a second chance in fans eyes. I did not come across a single person at the bar last year that thought that he should have been retained as coach. (Nor Jerry Angelo as G.M. for that matter.) That he has taken this opportunity and run with it is all to his credit. Defensive play is what he is known for and the defense is playing great. Being a leader that can right the ship is just as important, and his influence over the offense to change when it was needed cant be denied. But once again it gets to the perception thing. During the awfulness of the last three years, his even-keel demeanor, lack of anger and say nothing coach-speak made him the number one target of fans discussing what was wrong with the team. Some even considered him to have an above-it-all arrogance. Well now, during the good times, he has the perception of a calm cool leader. It cracks me up that as maddening as I sometimes found his behavior, especially during the last two years, to be, that he is EXACTLY the same right guy right now. How funny is that? How funny is it that I think that right now, he should be considered the coach of the year in the NFL?
So who are the Bears? I think that right now, they are one of the best teams in football. The win on Sunday made that statement for all to see. But as Jerry Glanville once pointed out, NFL stands for: Not for long! Anything can change in an instant. Thats why I found it very telling when discussing the aftermath of the game, everyone on the team said its all about next week and moving forward. Basking in the glow in this league will get you beat in a hurry and turn you into yesterdays news. (Or LAST weeks Sports Illustrated cover!) This team being focused on that is a good thing. They have a five game opportunity in front of them and its going to be fun to see how they respond. They are playing at a level that will let them play for a while and thats the point. For as I have reminded everyone who wanted to give me the needle for Sundays outcome, winning games in November only gives you a chance, winning games in January and February are what we all will remember, and tell us all we need to know. (Analyze That!) (Get it? A sequel reference. A sequel!)