Deep breaths my friends.
In... and out. In... and out.... and repeat ad nauseum until the overwhelming feeling start to subside.
Are we back to a state of calm after that calamity? I hope so. It's rough to watch such a thing. But, be glad it's Friday. On Monday, this will be old news, and we'll be looking for next Sunday. So, c'mon. Step back from that ledge with me. Things are prettier on the other side.
The big question is: What Chicago Bears team do we have?
Is it the the one that demolished a team with a better defense than the Green Bay Packers last year?
Or the one who looked positively pedestrian on offense against a defense that got ripped up last week by Alex Smith.
What the Bears have on defense is brutally obvious. A team that's so strong defensively that it makes Aaron Rodgers look pedestrian for almost 4 quarters. Stand tall, stand proud. Our defense looked better than the Niners in defending Rodgers. It's the offense though, that we always question year in, year out.
The easy way out is to say 'it's somewhere in the middle'. But, that's a swath of gray area that's unfit for any sort of analysis. We discussed a fair bit last night in the gamethreads about how the Bears knew exactly the gameplan for the Packers Offense (and executed it perfectly), but Doom Capers couldn't nearly have enough time to guess what the Bears offense was going to do. That's was wrong. I think what we saw was a lack of distinctive identity into what the Bears are doing on offense and what they want to do. There looked to be forces pushing each way in the playcalling, and a lack of reading what the defense was showing and adjusting accordingly. I saw some glimpses (calling Trips was some smart playcalling to go deep), but nothing of what was preached before the season started.
The Bears came out in max protect a lot, and the Packers challenged the Bears by only rushing 4 enough times from their base 2-4-5, letting Tramon Williams & the safeties hard bracket Marshall when there were only 2, maybe 3 out on route. Williams had a phenomenal game yesterday, and props to him and his individual effort, especially playing against Brandon Marshall. There was a lot of conservative playcalls by Dom Capers, taking a page from Lovie Smith. When we talk about bend, but don't break, that was exactly what Dom Capers did, forcing the Bears into high percentage shots they just did not take (and we really shouldn't harass Lovie for calling the same kind of game week in and week out). Was that on Bates, Tice, or Cutler? Probably a combination of them all are at fault in that on how they chose to attack a defense that looked as bad as it could get last week. They didn't know how they wanted to attack anything, it looked scatterbrained and directionless, and that's where the identity comes in. We don't know who the Bears offense is. Heck, they probably don't know yet. There was no rhythm to be seen, and that, my friends, is a big issue.
So, how do the Bears establish rhythm? Run the ball. Make short, high efficiency passes, complete the pass, don't drop the ball. Last week, I watched Mike Shannahan effectively create the rhythm for Robert Griffin III, by involving the RB in the passing game, make high efficiency plays, create timing, and play to your strengths, in RGIII's case, that's keeping mobile. The Bears, Tice and Bates especially, need to call plays like this, if you start scripted like Tice likes, and it starts falling apart, come back to running the ball and making high efficiency passes to establish the rhythm. You can't always keep rhythm up by trying to stick to your gameplan. Sometimes you have to play to the opposites of your emotion. It's a concept that Brandon Marshall should be familiar with in his time with Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. When you feel a certain way, are undergoing a certain emotion, to break past the emotion, you have to act on the opposite when it's safe. When you're sad, you have to go out and do things that make you happy, when you're frustrated, go back to what you can do with your eyes closed. Play to what you know, and reach further in a moment. They're mental skills that not everyone has, but they are skills that can be learned. Just like developing the rapport on the offense, trusting the line to hold up till he can throw the ball, trusting the receivers to come back on the ball, to adjust to the play, and catch the ball when it's there.
And that will come. It will. And this is the silver lining...
Tice will be able to analyse what he's done these past 2 weeks and has the opportunity to correct his mistakes. We've seen some adjustments in his playcalling, we need to see more from week to week, and drive to drive. This team has too much talent to fall flat on it's face every week. Tice will figure it out too. Hell, I might be able to figure it out. It's just patience, and patience is a hard lesson.
Jay Cutler is still a very good quarterback, even with his issues with interceptions (see: Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford or even Brett Favre). He had a poor game. Tice had a poor game. But just remember, this is one game this season, it's not indicative of next week, or the week after, or even last week. It's what happened this week, and only this week. And that's what I hope everyone can take away for this weekend while watching your choice of College Football (go Boston College! Beat Northwestern!) or other NFL games that aren't the Bears. The Bears still have great players, and even great teams can have bad games, especially against 15-1 teams playing at home in a place such as Lambeau. The way the Packers made the Bears look was exactly the way the Niners made the Packers look. And look at how the Packers bounced back. The Bears can do the same thing over the next few weeks against the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys. It's just having the patience and faith that even with things get bad, you can still be good, you just have to get up, and brush that dirt of your shoulder and keep playing the game.
That's real life wisdom.
The Wizard, Lovie Smith, preaches four quarters to everything. Look at the season in four quarters, look at the game as four quarters, and not in long term trends. Treat everything as short term, week to week, don't look too far ahead, but focus on what's only one or two steps ahead of you. Evaluate your short term, but don't lose sight of the fact it's short term. He's a smart guy, behind that cool, icy, monotonous, statueface. His methodology and demeanor should be a model for fans and professionals alike to keep focused on the task at hand and not overreacting. When we're a bunch of overreacting, hyperactive meatballs who don't understand what the Coach is doing, it's because he's the exact opposite of what we're feeling. Trying to talk the weight of our fears off our shoulders. Take solace, take comfort in relaxing and soothing phraseing of Lovie Smith, but... just remember, it's Friday. Everybody's looking forward to the weekend. So enjoy it, relax a bit, this isn't the end of the Bears season, it's not necessarily an omen for things to come, it's not even time to start thinking about the offseason. It's just a game that happened, just like the game last weekend humbled the Packers, and we'll get past it, and our fickle opinions will once again change next week, and the week after, and the week after that.
So, with that, enjoy this September weekend.
Earth, Wind, and Fire - September