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 win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.