No one cares (especially now that Cutler and Company are on ice until the Bourbonnais is cracked open, so I’ll make this short and sweet. Post mortem thoughts on the Munsters of the Midway:
- Jay Cutler – I owe Jay Cutler an apology. Kind of. After two years of the Chicago media making apologies for (essentially) the same erratic play they ran Rex out of town for, Cutler did put together a few good games before getting injured. However, his season passer rating was actually LOWER than last year with a low of 46.7 against Carolina and a high of 115.9 against Minnesota. Against the most important team on our schedule the Green Bay Packers? Below is career average at 78.9. I see NOTHING to change my opinion that Cutler has very little leadership skill although there was a noticeable drop in his sideline whining and pouting the past two games he played. The key is can he do it fighting a loosing streak. Cutler isn’t the worst QB in the NFL but he is certainly near the bottom of the NFC North. Which leads me to my apology:
- Caleb Hanie – Caleb wasn’t better than Cutler. McCowan showed us what we are missing. (And not just in a BACKUP quarterback by the way). I was hoping for a potential Tony Romo 2.0 and got the worst version of the ghost of Rex Grossman in Cub’s clothing. In fairness to Caleb, the media and coaches really haven’t given him a chance to develop. Playing the scouting team for two years without any reps since training camp with starters isn’t a great way to prepare. Cutler had three games in 2007 with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Caleb had one with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. But I did expect Caleb to show more of the magic he did in last years NFC playoff game with the Packers. He did show flashes for sure. He probably is capable of producing fairly well for a team that would give him time to develop some patience and experience but with many better profiled quarterbacks coming from more NFL-style offensive college systems will anyone give him a chance? It’s clear he won’t find it here in Chicago, and didn’t make use of the chance he had.
- Chicago Sports Media – is downright embarrassing. Fox announcers at the Seahawk game expressed astonishment at the mentally imbalanced attacks on Hanie wondering why it was so “personal.” Hanie looked great up until midway through the 3rd Quarter when he fell apart. But the Chicago media had already smeared him as Bozo the clown despite grudgingly admitted he easily could have won 2 of the previous 3 games. Then you get insane analysis like this, ready to put a guy in the Hall of Fame. David Haugh, a sometimes insightful and intelligent writer, publicly lambasted Bears ownership for letting Kreutz go supposedly for being an old “clubhouse leader.” What did this “leader” do? Flipped off his new team and walked away mid-season because he didn’t feel like playing anymore. Grossman turned out to be as good as Orton but for some reason was the target of the Saul Alinksy treatment. Meanwhile, media favorites like Forte are protected from any criticism despite perpetrating a lie against their employer for most of the season. Chicago sports media is almost as embarrassing as the Daley machine and Chicago politics. I wonder if the rest of Illinois can secede from sports media but keep our sports teams.
- Matt Forte – proved he is the real deal. He is also a liar pretending for most of the season that the Bears were cheap and wouldn’t pay him what he was worth. What we found out later was he was presented a very lucrative 3 year deal in training camp which he didn’t even respond to allowing the media to create a (false) clamor to “pay the man.” Haugh wrote a very good piece (there is hope for him) that Forte is risking his own career as well as that of his team by taking a gamble if he got hurt prior to the end of the season. Guess what happened. Now Bears management has an even tougher time to decide whether to commit to a guy who has shown an ability to have health problems two years in a row. Even with Bell (or even Barber if they want to bring him back), Forte is a much better long term answer than anything else out there even with the risk going forward – but it is Forte, not Halas Hall that has created more dissension.
- Long Term Prospects – is depressing. Yes we have multiple Defense ProBowl-ers but they are nearly ready to start drawing Social Security. The Love Smith “M.O.” is to overwhelm with defense. As Green Bay is proving, the NFL today is all about the pass. And the Bears ranked 26th this year. Fifth against the run is great except our problem in the NFC North (3-3 loosing to Green Bay TWICE), is that Adrian Peterson isn’t the threat. Rodgers, Ponder, Stafford and Webb are. All these young NFC North teams are getting BETTER, while the hallmark of our team is getting older. Which means next year, we likely will be worse. Even if Major Wright stays healthy.
Assuming Cutler and Forte remain functional, we still have a problem that’s been a plague the entire Lovie/Angelo reign: the Offensive Line. And offensive it TRULY is. And thanks to the wonderful 5 game winning mirage, we aren’t even in a good position to pick up some serious talent in the draft. Knox is improving, Bennett is serviceable and Williams showed some real signs of promise with Josh M, but none are going to change the threat of the offense.
You may say to me, “PolitiJim, it’s not that bad. We looked great before Cutler and Forte got hurt.” Really? Barely winning against three teams that aren’t in the playoffs is encouraging? And with Lovie and Angelo locked in through 2013 my guess is that the Halas’s aren’t suddenly going to waste a lot of cash on an entirely new approach.
My prediction is that Bears will be somewhere between 6-10 and 10-6 just enough to keep us out of the lottery for an exceptional player to rebuild. The Bears D will be increasingly porous and the offense will continue to consider 21 points a season high output. Much like the current White House administration, the only way to fix it is to let things get so bad, an entire new regime will be self-evident.
The good news is that the Bulls should carry us for at least two to three years and the Cubs should start to kick in by 2013 or 2014. That should keep the Bears pain to a minimum until the Halas’s start to get serious about rethinking the entire franchise.