Who are you?

Who are you?

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
2:32 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Its the ultimate question isnt it? We ask it about others and sometimes even ourselves. While we dont have enough time or space here for me to ponder this question about myself, I have spent considerable time trying to figure what this question means as it pertains to my professional football, um, rooting interests.

Its what the first four weeks of the regular season are for. Now that we can put the preseason behind us, (Good thing we used all of the things we learned there! I love how people use a teams performance during half-speed time to predict regular season results. Indy was 0-4. Detroit 3-1. Houston 1-3. And Im sure you remember the Bears staggering through a 0-4 summer. Did any of this predict what we see now? I always find preseason prognostication as a waste of time. Do you know how many of the local experts picked the Bears last year as a double-digit winner and playoff team? How about every one of the ones I read or talked to. Why watch the preseason? Just drink your Kool-aid, then make your picks!) its time to try and figure out the truths, and the illusions, that are in front of us. Of course, as always, I do this for conversational purposes only!

How could I not start with the Bears? Has 2-0 ever felt this good? Well as a matter of fact, it has felt much better. The last time the Bears started out this well, 2006, they went to the Super Bowl. That team though had a lot of expectations. They were coming off of a playoff appearance and had a dominant defense that was in its prime. This team? Well, with the stench of the last two campaigns still not totally removed, theres more apprehension than expectation for this team. They have a maddening ability to pull the rug from out of under you every time that you start to believe.
One difference this year is Jay Cutler. Last year at this time, Cutler-mania was in full bloom. The team started out 3-1 (after a 3-1 preseason!) and all was great. Wasnt it? After a horrid 4-pick effort in the opener, a loss, he had a 7-1 TD to interception ratio in the next 3 games, all wins, so the natural summation was that he was headed, along with the team, to the promised land. We all know how that turned out. But as we watched, there was a feeling that thing were not all good. There was just a feeling that the team was not as good as its record. And in spite of some of his success, Cutler did not seem to always be on the same page with his receivers, or he was just plain reckless with the ball. 26 interceptions later, we saw how that played out.

I know its still early, but Im going to go out on a limb and say that Cutlers results are going to be different this year. Im still not sold on the O-lines ability to protect him, but he has a different feel to him this year. I think all of the negativity, following a summer of love upon his arrival here, has had an effect. I think hes motivated to make amends and reclaim his status as a golden-boy. This also includes his interactions with a media that he disdains. Ive not seen many guys, who just because of their personality, get so much scorn and ill will with media members. I know that we all are entertained by Peyton Manning and his sense of humor, which is on display in many places, but what makes him Peyton Manning is his ability to lead a football team.

3-13 quarterbacks are just not funny or lovable. Combine this desire with an offensive coordinator, who I think gets him, and also gets aggressive, pass-oriented football, and I think that good things are in store for this Bears team on the offensive side of the ball.

On the defensive side, I dont know if I feel as good. Big win and thats what its all about, but giving up 410 yards is giving up 410 yards. Much will be made of the swagger and big hits, but is that enough to stop Aaron Rogers? What you have to like is that in spite of the amount of yards given up, it was bend-but-dont-break, only yielding 1 defensive touchdown.

Also, in what I think will be the most telling stat for the defense all year, were the 3 turnovers created. Turnovers have a way of negating yardage and also get into the head of an opponent. They also are supposed to be a trademark of a Lovie Smith defense. In this defining year of Smiths tenure here, they better come in abundance.

So who are the Bears? Do any of us know? This is the NFL and that stands for: Not For Long. Things we see now may not be what they appear. One thing for sure though, a home Monday Night game against the Packers, with both teams 2-0, should be the barometer we need. 3-0 would be time for everyone to hop on the Bears express. Who are you?

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks beat Avalanche; Bulls lose to Mavericks

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After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

Dwyane Wade sounded every bit like a frustrated 35-year old father when talking about the repeated ills and so-called growing pains of his Bulls, as they surrendered yet another game against a sub-.500 team.

Sometimes it's the New York Knicks whom the Bulls are offering temporary refuge. Or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves as they are all-too-generous to roll out the welcome mat for returning figures to Chicago.

Tuesday it was the Dallas Mavericks, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, who stormed into the United Center and escaped with a 99-98 win, courtesy of Wesley Matthews' triple with 11.7 seconds left followed by him locking down Jimmy Butler on the ensuing possession.

Wade was forced to take a contested 21-footer that went awry, but the Bulls' ills went far beyond the last two possessions, when the Mavericks exploited their strategy yet again.

"Either you learn the lesson or figure out," Wade said. "Keep putting your hand on the hot stove every day.

"We just gotta figure out not to put our hands on that stove. And understand when we come in the kitchen, that stove is hot, don't touch it. As I continue to say, this is a very young team and they have to play in these games and have to go through these moments. The one thing you want, whether it's this year or next year, is to not make the same mistakes."

The Bulls are apparently insistent on touching the stove and keep burning themselves, the most recent time with the confusion or the bad strategy in defending the Mavericks' final offensive possession.

Deron Williams found himself with Nikola Mirotic defending him off a switch from Jimmy Butler. Not the quickest afoot, Mirotic gave Williams an easy path to the basket and Wade was the backside help, not wanting to leave Matthews on the wing for a triple.

But with the bench commanding Wade to help, Williams easily found Matthews for an open 3 as Wade had no help for his man. With the Bulls up two, one could see how Wade didn't want to leave Matthews.

"I'll have to go back and watch, but it looks like Deron got downcourt, Wade went over to help and we didn’t rotate accordingly," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We obviously need to do a better job of staying in front of the other end."

Mirotic was supposed to be brought back slowly in his return from strep throat, but he played the entire fourth quarter and 22 minutes overall, having lost eight pounds with his illness that had him miss four games.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

Their issues were game-long and have been seasonlong as the Mavericks were supposed to absorb a shellacking from a Bulls team that felt a 25-point beatdown in Texas last month.

Instead, they would've been happy with settling for an escape when Butler rose up over his college teammate Matthews for a 20-foot wing jumper with 22.8 seconds left.

Butler nearly added a triple-double and clutch moment to his growing resume with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds but was dogged by Matthews all night, the defender who wouldn't give him airspace, went chest-to-chest and even earned a technical foul when he felt Butler exaggerated some contact in the third quarter.

"He took away my space, wouldn't let me get to my spot," Butler said of Matthews. "Good for him. I should've did something different."

Wade missed 13 of his 21 shots, scoring 17 with five rebounds on his 35th birthday

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 21 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn't have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 points and Seth Curry's 18, as Barnes, Matthews and Curry combined for eight triples — spreading the Bulls out and picking them apart defensively.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 points in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The energy was tardy to the party, as they shot just 41 percent in the first half but woke up a little in the third quarter — continuing their all-too familiar trend of half-hearted efforts against lesser teams.

And it looks like the ever-optimistic Wade is dishing out some realism, probably something that comes with the perspective of turning 35.

"You can't keep getting stressed out or frustrated. We've been going through this all year. We'll get back in in the morning.

"Once you realize who you are, you're better off. I sleep better at night. Once we want to be a better team and start winning games, we will. I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm not stressed. Just taking the hits."