Bears’ first two games show nothing is like NFL’s highs and lows
RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com September 24, 2011 12:54AM
If the Bears beat the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field, you can expect giddy fans to start talking about their Super Bowl chances. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: December 1, 2011 5:27AM
I know: How are you supposed to savor anything when the Bears’ offensive line is a mess, the quarterback might not live past Sunday, the offensive coordinator appears to be sniffing his felt-tip pens and the end of the world is closing in on us, according to the Mayan calendar?
Please take a step back, though — and not just because you’ve been standing on the ledge ever since the New Orleans Saints embarrassed the Bears last week. Take a step back and savor the NFL for its complete lack of scale. Appreciate what the league has put you through the last two weeks and what it will offer you Sunday as part of a 21-day salute to adrenaline, raw nerve endings, stomach complaints and mental-health issues.
No other professional sport can do this. No sport can inject so much euphoria into you one week, then make you look like Nick Nolte’s police mug shot the next.
Now the Bears meet the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, and the look on your blue-painted face is a mixture of excitement, disgust for dairy products and deep concern that the Packers will win the game, thus dropping your heroes’ record to 1-2 and tearing at the very fabric of a civilized society.
The mood swings have been incredible in Chicago, more so than normal. It has to do with the way the schedule fell for the Bears to open the season. The Atlanta Falcons, the Saints and the Packers. Three playoff teams from last season. Three ways to get an immediate sense of what these Bears are about.
That early schedule meant that the highs could be very high and the lows could be, well, you saw the game against the Saints.
Like an Italian opera
This is a league that allows you — no, begs you — to be an idiot from week to week. And we have obliged. The Bears were great in a 30-12 victory against the Falcons. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was a new man, Jay Cutler was brilliant, Matt Forte deserved whatever the team could afford and Roy Williams was forgiven his sins, not that anyone could remember what they were.
The Bears were horrible in a
30-13 loss to the Saints. The season was doomed, and has anyone seen Henry Melton?
It hasn’t brought out the best in people, media people included. In the course of three days last week, I blamed the offensive line for not blocking well enough against the Saints, Cutler for not getting rid of the ball quickly enough and coach Lovie Smith for not telling Martz, mid-debacle, to start handing off the ball more to Forte. I didn’t get chance to wonder in print what general manager Jerry Angelo had been doing during the offseason that precluded him from performing his job duties.
I’m not saying I was wrong; I’m just saying the Kennedy assassination didn’t get looked at from so many angles.
And I’m the guy who wrote that the real Bears are closer to the team that beat the Falcons than the one that fell apart against the Saints. What happened to that calm, rational-thinking guy?
The NFL set in, that’s what happened. There are 16 games in a season. Every week is an Italian opera, full of merriment and sobbing and very little in between.
There were so many reasons the Bears failed against the Saints that we were in danger of running out
of fingers with which to point. That’s what the NFL will do to you. Two weeks into the season, and you’re pretty sure you’ve seen heaven and hell. But at least you know you’re alive.
Eight months ago, the Bears and Packers faced off against each other at Soldier Field in the NFC Championship Game. It would have been difficult to overstate what that game meant. It was only the second time the teams had met in the playoffs. To get to the Super Bowl by beating your archrival, it couldn’t get much bigger than that.
The game Sunday doesn’t come close to that in terms of deep meaning, but it feels as though there’s a lot riding on it.
If the Bears should win Sunday, if they should bring down the hated Packers like a bagged elephant, earnest Super Bowl discussions will commence in Chicago. You can count on that the way you can count on your tax bill arriving in the mail.
If the Bears should lose badly, the only question will be whether the sky is going to come down in pieces or all at once.
And who will be to blame for the Bears’ transgressions in such a loss? A better question: Who won’t be to blame?
Either way, I envision a week’s worth of overreaction. Isn’t it great?