Random News: A Bears season about nothing?

Random News: A Bears season about nothing?

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
12:51 p.m.

By Joe Collins

Moments after the last episode of Seinfeld aired on May 14, 1998, critics blasted the performance. TV and entertainment pundits labeled it as a shabby, weak performance that wasted a lot of potential. The living room onlookers thought the same, saying that it never came close to meeting expectations. My reaction was the same.

But every time that I have watched that final episode in syndicated rerun form, I have come to respect it a little more. No, not because the episode was funny (it's still lukewarm compared to, say, any episode from the '94-'95 season), but because of what it represented: an unexpected smash hit that had sustained success for quite some time -- much longer than anyone, including their competitors, had predicted.

You know, kind of like this Bears season.

People didn't take Seinfeld seriously until the fourth season, and even that wasn't saying much because the show barely dented the top 30 in Nielsen's weekly rankings that year. In the fifth season (midseason in football terms, if you will), the show took off. The Bears had a somewhat similar fate. Their season began as "a show about nothing," more or less. Vegas gave them a 401 chance on winning the Super Bowl. Not exactly a lot of expectations right off the bat. Then the Bears got a season-opening win against the Lions thanks to a fluke call. The 3-0 start didn't do much to get people excited, especially after a crushing defeat in New York the week after. Two losses going into the bye week didn't help either. Then the Bears took off: five straight wins, including a convincing victory over the Eagles. A first place title in the NFC North followed, followed by a home playoff victory against Seattle.

Then all hell broke loose. The Bears lost their starting quarterback, lost the game, lost the shot at the Super Bowland some fans lost their minds in the process -- especially when Todd Collins started taking snaps. Talk about entering the bizarro world, you know? Jay Cutler immediately took the role of Newman (fair or not) and 20 hours of injury PR damage control ensued. Tweets and Facebook status updates blew up at several points during the game:
The Bears (stink)! We are who they thought they were!"That bike won't get you to Dallas, Jay!"You guys are ruining it for Chicago and everybody else south of Wisconsin!"Put Moses Moreno in!Epic failurethanks for choking!

The Bears stink? Seriously? An epic failure? Really? Im not sure if I buy all that. Based on the social network updates, you would have thought the Bears were 1-15. The Twitterverse was also on fire just after video surfaced of Jay Cutlers jersey getting, ahem, torched. Have we all lost our minds?

We have become a society that is so reactionary, so irritable, so -- pardon the pun -- knee-jerk when it comes to the way we respond to certain stimuli in the sports world. Lets face it: the Bears, a great team, were beaten by the an even better one on Sunday. No question about it. Tip your hat and salute our northern neighbors. Did we forget that the Bears were playing with house money since the first game this season? It is said that, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Yes, the Bears were goodgreat even. The offensive line rebounded after a horrendous start. The running game was solid and the passing game eventually found rhythm. The defense dominated at times. The special teams unit was nothing short of elite. But how many strokes of luck did they get this year? 10? 20? How many times can a team claim they went up against threethreethird string quarterbacks? And even if Cutler hadnt injured his knee, do you think he could have carried the already-wounded Bears to the promised land? Im not so sureespecially the way the Packers Ginsued their way through the Bears defense in the first half. The Bears could have easily been down 21-0 or worseheading into halftime.

The Bears had a great season. It was a nice run. The last game was a stink bomb. And I know that the exit from the playoffs was a painful one, especially given the opponent. The hype was tremendous and the loss was nothing short of ulcer-causing. But we need to realize that the Bears had a great season that completely surpassed expectations. When you were watching the Bears stagger through a winless preseason, did you envision them in the NFC Championship? When you saw Cutler get squeegeed by the Giants defense in the Meadowlands, did you think the Bears would be a late drive (or two) away from a ticket to Dallas?

One can only hope the Bears answer the call next year. The pressure to win will be enormous. Anything less than an NFC Championship would be considered a failure. But if this Bears team has shown us anything, its resiliency and the power to overcome any kind of adversityespecially from us in the media that sunk the team at 6-10 before they took one regular season snap. We should look back at this season, not with anger at the finale, but with joy on a run that few thought possible. I know that's easier said than done today, especially with Bears fans questioning the leadership of the starring role behind center. The Bears -- and especially Cutler -- can and should rebound. Let's hope, anyway.

Maybe they will start off with a few wins next year andyada yada yadatheyre in the Super Bowl.

Stay tuned.

Or something like that.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule: