Happy 2011 everybody! With the new year it's the opportune time for an obligatory end of the year list. This won't necessarily be a top plays list (however the Bears did have a few of those), but instead the top 10 biggest, most buzzed about story lines of last year as read about on Windy City Gridiron. There's no scientific algorithm behind my choices, so try not to read too much into the order. It's just my thoughts on how each topic buzzed around the message boards. Before I get into my top 10, here's one that just missed making the cut.
Honorable Mention in my opinion goes to Imaginary Interceptions - I suppose I could have lumped this one in with #4 that you'll see in a bit, as Jay Cutler was the target of many a nay-saying nincompoop. According to those "experts" Jay Sizzle clearly led the NFL in Almost Interceptions.
10) Kam Chancellor - No other player dominated Windy City Gridiron around draft time like the linebackeresque strong safety out of Virginia Tech. He even received the OSS treatment as seen here and he had a fanpost dedicated to his skills. Chancellor was drafted by the Seahawks and in his earlier trip to Soldier Field he failed to scratch the stat sheet.
9) The Bears are Doomed - There was a stretch there, way back in October when the Bears lost 3 of 4 and the lone win was against the hapless Panthers. The offensive line looked scary bad, and some Bears fans feared they wouldn't win another game, and others spent a lot of energy chilling then out. The biggest worry for many Bears fans was the Mike Martz offense and how it had to adjust or else, while some thought he wore out his welcome in Chicago.
8) Assistant Coaching Search Drags on and on and on - Who'll coordinate the offense? Who'll coordinate the defense? Who'll coach the O-Line and the tight ends? Speculation drug on for well over a month after the Bears sprung a bunch of assistants after the '09 season. Relive the excitement here! There was also some good back and forth going on about Lovie Smith being replaced.
7) Brian Urlacher Back to Pro Bowl Form - I don't think many people expected Urlacher to be back like this. Many people were just hoping to have him back healthy, but going sideline to sideline like it's 2006 isn't what people were expecting. As an added bonus for 'Lach, he became the Bears all time tackler, and he has at least one vote for becoming the Bears D-Coordinator when he retires.
6) Who's the #1 Receiver? - Can young Johnny Knox step up? The Bears need a 6'4" go get it type wideout. Devin Aromashodu will be the #1! Is this the year Devin Hester becomes the true #1? Greg Olsen should move to WR full time. Matt Jones, Plaxico Burress, Freddie Barnes, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald... I think every receiver that hinted at wanting a fresh start was pined for by some of our readers. And every receiver that was available had some speculation that he should be a Bear, even Randy Moss as seen here and here.
5) Windy City Gridiron Goes Big Time - WCG has long been the #1 destination for Bears fans, but with the addition of Bears beat writers (you know actual media types) Sean Jensen and John "Moon "Mullin joining us for the Inside Scoop series we took it to a whole new level.
4) The Bears Get No Respect - Power Polls, idiotic commentators, misguided color analysts, and in studio boobs. Did anyone give the Bears any credit for anything through most of 2010? Some even started up some 2011 criticism, Most of the mainstream media said it was all luck, teams were handing Chicago victories, it's just a matter of time before the real Bears show up. Poppycock to all of them I say. Don't be a party pooper.
3) Devin Hester Ridiculous Again - We all knew it was a matter of time before Hester broke the kick/punt return record, didn't we? With a two year drought with no return TDs, some started to think his mojo had left him, but then week 3 and the punt return heard 'round the world reminded the entire NFL that Devin Hester is a bad, bad, man. Then he finally broke the record in the Division clinching game, clicky clicky... And of course Hester had some amazing feats.
2) Bears Sign Peppers - The signing of Julius Peppers registered almost as much excitement as the Jay Cutler trade the off season prior. His presence was felt all season long. Relive some of the post press conference giddiness by clicking here. And did we ever settle on a nickname for #90?
1) Bears NFC North Champions - Can there be a bigger story in 2010 than the Bears returning to the playoffs and winning their division? Here's the December 21st Bears Den NFC North Champions Edition for your viewing pleasure. And here's the perspective of the Hitman himself.