Brad Maynard kicks another punt (photo by AP). It's not everyday you get to feature a punter for the main photo of the NFC Championship. So there ya go, Brad.
I remember this feeling. It's hard to shake that sinking feeling that you get when you watch the Bears lose. It's never really compeitive and the team seems to take quiet joy out of embarrassing us in front of our friends. That's right, I take it personal.
But life moves on. My Mom has a birthday coming up. And I have a lot of cool projects in the hopper. So maybe I should thank the Bears for putting me out of my misery on Sunday, and not two weeks later.
I loved how Channel 9 handled the sports highlights. It was a big game, but there's college basketball and other sports to pay attention to, so let's move on. Let's be frank, fellow Bears fans: It was a blowout. It was that kind of Lovie Smith-style of "score is closer than the actual game is." But it was a good season with a lot of memorable moments.
Before I get to the random observations from Sunday's game, I really want to thank Caleb Hanie. Hanie came in and saved a game that we spent all week getting ready for. When he put on his helmet, the game was teetering on the edge of total Packer domination. If the Bears defense didn't create turnovers, this could have been 35-0. So Hanie, we thank you for making this over-hyped football game worth the investment (time and money). You were instrumental in helping us avoid sobbing ourselves to sleep last night.
All right, let's get to business! Here are my random observations from our final week of the 2010/11 season:
What a brave, new world we live in. Several NFL players were tweeting, questioning Jay Cutler's toughness in 140 characters or less. Hey, that's pretty awesome. Now I can hear what the third-string WR from Arizona thinks of Jay Cutler. It's such a wonderful reminder of new media opportunities for douchebags.
But it has to be hard. This game was on center-stage in the NFL - every player, every fan watching this game. The injury was shrouded in mystery. Therefore, everyone had an opinion about Jay Cutler's knee. So all around the country, random people questioned Jay Cutler. Ah, the highs and lows of celebrity. On the one hand, you get the finer things wealth can offer you. On the other hand, Uncle Jim in Trenton, N.J. thinks that he is better than you. I guess that's what you get paid millions for.
I probably paid about as much for food and merriment this weekend than I would have if I dropped $500 to go sit in Soldier Field. I was in a good mood. Went to a breakfast, a dinner, spent money on snacks and refreshments. But really, if I can draw this analogy: It's sort of like paying for those nice seats at the movies to watch one of those romantic comedies featuring Matthew McConaughey. Why did I just do that? Cause I'm a gamer. Case in point: I went out Saturday night to get wings, just to get in the football spirit. I will not lie, those wings did a number on me. I was a gametime decision Sunday to even watch football. But I mustered up some strength to dive into some new chicken, cheer on the team, scream and yell at the TV and prompt my son to say "Dad, stop shouting" while covering his ears. You may want to take note, Cutler.
Another memo to Jay: I know you are friends with Rodgers, but you lost the privilege to go shake hands with your buddy post-game. Hanie gets that opportunity.
Hanie never thought in a million years he would be in that game. He was doing bits with his facial hair (Ditka!) and was wearing a cardigan in the post-game because he probably doesn't own a suit. He's the hipster hero of Chicago. As a matter of fact, I am not sure if I would recognize him on the street. Is that Hanie, the Bears emergency quarterback or the bartender at Rainbo? You gotta love it. I am glad he got his 15 minutes of fame. I, for one, hope we never see him play again. Nothing against him, but if we don't see him, that means we have a first-stringer who is killing and staying on the field. If he comes in, it's either an injury or ineffectiveness - and neither of those are good things to root for.
Also - did Caleb Hanie shave his mustache in the locker room, before the post-game press conferences? So that joke mustache wasn't so funny when you actually had to play:
You know he got a text from his agent (or Mom): "CH - SHAVE IT!!!!!"
Here's an interesting memory that I didn't hear much about this past hype-week: Do you remember when the 49ers came to Soldier Field and beat the Bears in the 1989 NFC title game? The 49ers steam-rolled the Bears and QB PT Willis. He was as a back-up QB who we had to shove in because Tomczak or whoever was sidelined. We lost 28-0. Felt really, really, eerily similar to today. A couple seasons later, Ditka was gone.
It's funny, I think Ditka and Lovie suffer(ed) from the same problems. Both had great defenses that could dominate, both had good running backs but both had just terrible quarterback play. It's in the Lake Michigan water.
Need more evidence? I watched the Bears/Colts Super Bowl the other night. It was the first time since the actual Feb night in 2007 that I watched any highlights of the game. It was an awful game, dominated by terrible quarterback play where the score was MUCH closer than the game was. Sound familiar, once again?
Why was Todd Collins on the roster? Let's think back to how that happened. Hanie got hurt in the pre-season and the Bears needed a quarterback for the mop-up time. They hired Collins and were forced (because of the contract) to keep him on the active roster. What's the worst that could happen, right?
The Bears deferred the coin toss. Interesting. Since Rogers went down and put seven points on the board. And the Bears first drive of the third quarter was a three-and-out. Second-guess much?
You are not going to win a game if your MVP doesn't get the ball. Devin Hester was completely shut out. It wasn't on him, he had one good return. But the Bears offense was so bad that not only did they lay a huge egg, but they forced the Bears defense into short-fields and completely eliminated the return game. Give the Bears D credit, they played the whole game on the wrong side of the field. I think the Urlacher interception was after Maynard shanked a punt and gave Green Bay the ball inside the 30. Wow, that's bad special teams.
I have to give the Bears WRs a strong D+. Bennett's touchdown saved them from a lower grade. Hester seemed to slow up on an early overthrow by Cutler. Knox did a terrible job on the interception down by the endzone to end the half. Knox made a nice catch and ran down to the one and inexplicably didn't reach the ball out for the TD. Instead, out at the 1 yard line. That could have backfired and took seconds off the clock for us to run another play. And on that final interception by Hanie, it really seemed like the safety and cornerbacks jumped the route. A really sloppy route. Maybe we might see a veteran WR added to the roster next year?
Offensive line played pretty well. We didn't see those long-hairs near the quarterbacks.
Locker room highlights: Briggs said it was the Packers' day on Sunday. But they know next year will be the Bears' day. Peppers said (through newscaster) Chicago: we'll be back. Urlacher was mad, but he seemed to think this was just a bump in the road. Chris Harris said: "We'll be back." Does that mean they have avoided owner lockouts and fixed the collective bargaining agreement?
Could this be a team that's mere steps away? Do they have the consistency? Prove it to me, Lovie. Is this 2006, after a loss to the Panthers in the playoffs, followed up with a dominating trip to the Super Bowl? Or is this the start of a few 7-9 campaigns?
How 'bout University of Illinois' alumn Rashard Mendenhall being the best player on the field this weekend? Maybe that Rose Bowl wasn't a fluke after all.
Finally, since the season is over - let's talk trades:
Cutler, Chris Harris and Johnny Knox to Philly for Michael Vick.
Cutler, Knox and Greg Olsen to Houston for Andre Johnson.
Cutler and Forte to Tennessee for Vince Young and Chris Johnson.
Tommie Harris, Chris Harris and Johnny Knox to Indy for Reggie Wayne.
That's it folks! See you next year. Go Bulls.