Those of us here at Windy City Gridiron are fortunate to be part of a community of who tries and generally succeeds, to engage in intelligent conversation about one of the most storied franchises in football. We’re people who care passionately about the Bears, and we have what I like to think of as “sibling level” disagreements. Five years ago I made my first fan post at this site, and I’m about to enter my fourth season as a contributor. Recently, a fellow contributor asked me why I seemed so disgruntled about the state of the Bears (the person in question used stronger language, but “siblings” do that sometimes).
I explained my feelings to him and I was encouraged by my fellow contributors to share those feelings with the larger community. Therefore, here is where I sit as a Bears fan, and I doubt I’m alone.
I resent four years of people telling me things about the Bears and football that are, empirically, not true. I don’t understand timetables for rebuilds that have minimal basis in history nor do I understand why I cannot look at the win-loss column to evaluate the quality of a football team’s current composition.
I resent being asked to believe that Mike Glennon has any reason to wear the uniform of a professional football player, and my mind boggles at the idea that the team needs an inside linebacker enough to take him with one of the first ten picks in the draft but not enough to give in to common sense and allow him the same decency as other elite players in the NFL have gained in recent contract negotiations.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with Roquan Smith’s stance, and I’m not even sure that I agree with it (since I do not know the specifics of what he is looking for), but I look at the fact that the Bears have yet to see 16 games out of a single Ryan Pace first round pick and I wonder how it is possible that of all of the ‘sustained records’ of the current general manager, that trend now seems to be the one most likely to hold up.
All I ask from the sports team I back (or athlete in individual sports) is that I am afforded the realistic hope that they might win a majority of their contests. I feel like Charlie Brown with this organization sometimes, because it seems like the Bears are determined to take a full step back for every two steps forward. I was doing okay this off-season and had talked myself into thinking that Matt Nagy might turn things around. I liked, and still like, both of the second round picks. I was nervous about the pass rush, but who wasn’t? Now, with this whole Smith thing, I have to wonder if there is anyone in that building with a realistic assessment of where this team sits. Leaving aside my own ethical disagreement with how they are handling it, 14-34 teams don’t have the flexibility to pull this kind of power play stuff. Or they shouldn’t.
I see the third-worst record in professional football since 2015 and wonder when I will next see the Bears finish a season even in the hunt for the playoffs. I fear it will be a long time coming. I want to be wrong very badly, but I have no evidence for the moment that tells me I will be.
That, I think, is why I like a guy like John Timu. If I can’t have realistic hopes for the organization as a whole, I want to find guys on the team to cheer for and hope for. Because then at least I can watch their progress.
When I watch Timu, I sometimes think I’m watching a different guy than everyone else. Every time I spot him, I see a guy who knows what to do and is doing his best to be in position. I see a guy who is taking away routes within the limits of the rules and covering his responsibility. He is often athletically overmatched. The kid has B+ instincts but (for this level) C- athleticism. When he gets beat, it’s usually because the other guy is just more talented, not because he is personally playing badly. I’ll take that in a special teamer and rotational player. I want those guys to “Not Lose” more than I expect them to win. I’ll take that over a guy who always wants the big defensive play and so he gives up small chunks of yardage constantly.
Do I think Timu is going to be a Pro Bowler or even a quality starter? Nope. Am I glad the Bears have him to fall back on and to fill in on special teams? Yes.
I likewise want to see Javon Wims outplay as many of the wide receivers drafted ahead of him as possible. Not because it will prove anything about Pace’s drafting ability, but because this kid has a dream, and him fulfilling his dream gets the organization I cheer for that much closer to competitive.
I want to see James Daniels become a world-class offensive lineman. In part because I also root for Iowa, and in part because I think it’s a realistic hope that I can actually enjoy seeing while waiting for the Bears to turn the corner. In my opinion, Daniels should never have fallen out of the first round, and I want 31 other teams to have egg on their face for passing on him.
I feel the same with Adrian Amos. I love him proving doubters wrong. I recall being told that there was no way he was going to be on any roster in 2018, and he just finished his strongest season, all the while earning accolades from major publications and outlets.
Until the entire Bears organization makes me eat crow, I’ll keep cheering for the underdogs.