Contrary to popular opinion, I am a huge Chicago Bears fan and feel privileged to be able to voice my opinions on this great site, and want to take the time to thank everyone that reads the articles and posts their own comments. Windy City Gridiron would be nothing without you.
And the same applies to the Chicago Bears.
The fans turn up week in, week out, paying good money to cheer on their favorite players. We all buy merchandise and find numerous ways to watch and follow our beloved Bears. Through the good times and the bad times, fans remain the only constant. Head coaches and general managers come and go. Quarterbacks get traded, and draft picks frequently fail to live up to expectations. But the fans always remain. That's why, right now, the fans of the Chicago Bears deserve a whole lot more from their team.
Now, I am not for one minute suggesting Chicago are playing as bad as the Cardinals, for example. They haven't been subjected to a 58-0 loss. Well, not yet anyway. But the fans have a right to be frustrated. After starting the season 7-1, they have lost four out of their last five games, including losses to Seattle and Minnesota - games in which they were expected to win.
And now Green Bay come to town, and although they still control their own destiny, that could quickly be wiped out if they suffer too many more slip ups.
For me, the frustration still mainly stems from the offense. Only rarely will you hear me heap too much praise on Jay Cutler, but sometimes it seems like he's the only one with any fight left in him. I was leaping off my chair cheering him on when he set out scrambling for a couple of tough first downs against the Vikings last week.
In what seems like a problem that will never go away, the play of the offensive line has be inconsistent at best, and even though they have suffered some injuries, that excuse doesn't quite wash with me. While Matt Forte has not had a terrible season, he just doesn't seem to pose the same threat that he has in the past. He doesn't seem to be hitting the holes with much explosion and at times has been shut out of the passing game, which is a great shame.
Without sounding too much like a broken record, Brandon Marshall has been outstanding and his connection with Cutler has pretty much been the main reason the Bears have won as many games as they have. Even the defense, which seemed so strong for the first part of the season, looks like it's tiring, and although injuries have slowed them down, they have enough depth for the drop-off to be not so noticeable.
It's time for Bears fans to make their voices heard. Personally, I think it's foolish not to express your displeasure at the team's performance. We need to let them know that given all the talent they have, anything less than making the playoffs would be an unacceptable embarrassment. The team collapsed last season and are on the verge of doing the same thing this year.
As supporters, it is our duty to get on the case of Lovie Smith and the rest of the coaches. They need to be told that things need to improve. The same goes for the players. If one of the team doesn't pull their weight, let's make sure they know how we feel about it. It's no good to just say 'oh well, you win some, you lose some'. That's true sometimes, but not when you lose in the manner the Bears did against Seattle and Minnesota. It's simply not good enough.
You see, the Super Bowl is the only prize on offer in the NFL, which in my opinion makes it a great league but at the same time it has its limitations. What is a 2-11 team really competing for? A higher draft pick? But then you run the risk of teams purposely sucking to move up the ladder. Not that I believe that actually happens. Unlike European soccer, there are no secondary tournaments that run alongside the league, giving teams other trophies to chase. In the NFL there is literally one thing that every team is fighting for and that's what makes losing so hard to take. Once you are out of the playoff race, that's it.
Do I think the Bears can still make the playoffs? Yes I do. And that includes losing to the Packers which at this stage looks likely, especially if the team plays like they did against the Vikings. But what sort of chance do they have if they make it into the post season? Again, it's an topic for another day, but perhaps the playoff system needs looking at when you stop to consider that the New York Jets still have a chance of getting in.
Can we go through another off season lamenting what could have been? Surely the Chicago Bears have to get to the playoffs this time round. They owe at least that much to us - the fans.