Scene: Once again, two large(ish) men speak in hushed tones as they walk together, this time deep in the woods of Utica, IL, cutting a trail through a state park. They are a study in contrasts, physically and verbally, though both appear prepared for a long journey, massive backpacks hugging their muscular bodies. Both carry flashlights despite the sun beaming down from its peak height. For most of the the walk, they move forward in silence. Every once in a while, they exchange words, parsimoniously, like Virginia McCaskey holding on to her pennies. The younger man, bulkier than the other but seemingly closer to the ground, with wisps of facial hair emerging from his chin, stretches to be able to hear the older man, soft-spoken, nearly translucent, and with a neck reaching skyward.
I can’t believe we took a team bus down here for this. Like my life hasn’t been bad enough since week four.
Come on, Mike, it’s gorgeous out here. Don’t you miss wandering around the North Carolina woods to get your head on straight? Plus, Coach said it’s good team bonding for us to do stuff together off the field.
MG: Yeah, where is the rest of the team anyway? Shit, they didn’t even say goodbye or anything. Are you texting them, or is that a compass, or…
MT: [Stares blankly]
MG: …you’re just looking at topless pics again, aren’t you?
MT: Hey, I’m just surprised we get service out here. Anyway, it’s no big deal that we got separated from the rest of the group. Let’s go exploring! Maybe we can find some real live bears!
MG: I knew you were going to say that, so I looked at the wildlife manual before we left Lake Forest. No bears here. You know, other than us. We might see eagles, fox, badger, or beavers, but no bears.
MT: Come on, Mike! This place is filled with canyons, and canyons are just sideways caves. And what lives in caves? BEARS! Let’s go find some!
MG: [to self] How did I lose my starting job to an imbecile?
MT: Hey, Mike, go look over there at that canyon! If we can get down there, looks like there might be an opening for spelunking.
MG: Ok, Pippi Longstocking, we’re all the way up here, how do you want to get down there?
MT: Gee, I don’t know, walk up to the edge and see if you can find an easy way down…
BAM! Trubisky pushes Glennon over the side, he plummets straight down and lands his head on a rock.
MT: Wait for me, Mike! Geronimo!
Trubisky lands safely on the ground, walks into the opening of the “cave” and finds a small lamp. He rubs it and waits in anticipation.
When nothing happens, he throws the lamp against the rock wall, hard enough that it caroms back to hit him in the head and knock him out cold. Then suddenly…
/LAMP SPOUT FLIES OPEN
HEY YOU DUMB POMPOUS MOTHERFUCKERS!
MT: Holy shit, Mike, is that Buddy Ryan?
MG: [silently bleeding]
BR: YES, IT’S ME, YOU [chuckles to self] LIMP-DICKED SIMPLETONS.
BR: YEAH, MY BOYS TAUGHT ME THAT ONE. SHIT, YOU MIND IF I TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH?
MT: Fine with me, and I don’t hear any objections out of Glennon.
BR: Great, that’s better. Look, I think my reputation precedes me. I know a winner when I see one, and I know when to punch a dipshit in the mouth. And let me tell you, that rock saved both of us some time. But this Bears defense is legit, and you, my little biscuit, you might just be the real deal, too.
MT: Thanks? I think?
BR: Yeah, it’s a compliment. Calm your tits. Or tittiess. Whatever. The point is that this defense has been better than expected earlier than expected. Top quarter in yards per game allowed, better than top half in points per game allowed, and that’s with some gift scores from your giraffine friend there–
MG: [continues bleeding silently]
BR: –and the tightest sphincter play-calling I’ve seen since Norv Turner lost that bet with Beezlebub over face pockmarks. Jordan Howard is the real deal, as is the human joystick, Tarik Cohen. The offensive line has been more than cromulent, and until he nearly Lieutenant Dan’d himself, Zach Miller was a pretty good tool for you. You’ve shown great mobility in and out of the pocket, your arm is strong as hell, you’re playing the anti-Cutler leadership role to a T, and your teammates and fans are creaming their pants over you.
MT: Wow, thanks, Coach Ryan!
BR: Hold on, kiddo, it’s not all sunshine and Old Style. This season is probably fucked. Your coach isn’t taking the training wheels off any time soon, and this team makes enough boneheaded plays that even with the NFC North wide fucking open, Case Keenum is more likely to sneak into the playoffs than you are.
MT: That’s bad. Can I go now?
BR: Sure, kiddo. But before you do, a couple thoughts. First of all, the season is long, but a career is longer. Yes, play to win the back half of this season, but also play to learn. Work your progressions, establish rapport with the limited receiving talent you have, and stay close to Howard and Cohen. They’re your bell cows. And remember, you have a great resource to show you the ways of the league. He can give you advice not just on how to read defenses and keep the faith of older players, but also how to avoid his own mistakes off the field and how to truly grow into a leader.
MT: [Looks at bleeding Mike Glennon with trepidation and skepticism]
BR: No, not that useless sack of shit. Him!
/CANYON DOOR-EQUIVALENT FLIES OPEN
Here for whatever you need, boss. Just keep your eyes on the prize, and always check ID. But he’s still number two on the depth chart, so we’ll continue to show him respect as an experienced back-up who is here to help the team as well. Mike, any thing you want to share with the kid before we head back to the team bus?
The Ghost of Buddy Ryan is right. It feels like eons since the offseason, when all of us were bitching about the lack of football and hopefully looking ahead to the 2017-2018 NFL campaign. So much hope for teams like the Raiders, Falcons, Giants, etc, all destined to be very good football teams this year. But no one thought the Bears would be anything special. And for the first four games, the offense held that prediction to be true. But the defense was pretty damn good, and with Glennon performing even worse than the very low expectations laid out for him, a change had to be made. With injuries and incompetence leaving their stink all over the NFC North, the Bears are just one game back of the Lions and Packers at the bye. Now, that still puts them in fourth fucking place, but 3-5 is definitely better than expected. In fact, let’s see what I said about this season back in the summer:
This team has zero chance to finish above 3rd in the division. The Packers and Vikings should EASILY sweep the Bears this season and splitting with the Lions would be an accomplishment. Looking at the schedule, I guess the Bucs COULD be a winnable game (but probably not) and maybe the Ravens or Saints DERP away a game, but there’s a real chance the Bears go into the Bye week 0-8. Holy fuck is that depressing. And probably hastens calls for Mitch to take them out of the ditch (rhyme scheme original and not-patent pending). The back half of the schedule is slightly more forgiving thanks to appearances by the 9ers, Bengals, and Browns, but all of those teams are probably also looking forward to playing the Bears. I’m going to say 4-12 because 3-13 is probably where the team will want to be for the draft. The only hope for this season not to be a shitshow is if the defense is lights-out and the giraffe takes a leap to capable leader (that’s a step above competent and three steps below elite). Even then, that’s probably a .500 season ceiling. GOOOO BEARS!
See, better than expected! Of course, I also predicted that Zach Miller would be on the IR by week 6. He made it to week 8. Thankfully they fed the giraffe to the, um, well they haven’t played the Lions yet but they’ve fed him to the garbage heap for now, so there’s a chance for this team to actually be entertaining on its way to good in the near term. But it really is a story of :
- 6th highest rushing yards per game despite 8 to 12 guys in the box; all credit to Howard and Cohen, since Fox has basically tried to murder those guys [unclear if he knows that “run them into the ground” doesn’t need to be literal]
- The pass rush has far exceeded expectations, with Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman, and more all making Vic Fangio’s 3-4 Defense actually work in Chicago. In fact, Vic Fangio deserves his own bullet in “the good”
- Vic Fangio
- Trubisky has been good, still a rookie and learning, but he’s not playing like one would expect a U*NC alum to under the circumstances
- They have won or hung in every game except the Packers game
- Eddie Jackson with 2 defensive TDs in the same fucking game encapsulated the actual excitement possible with this squad. Plus, with Kyle Fuller playing close to his old form, the secondary is almost the opposite of a liability
- Arguably the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL; the above-pictured player is Deonte Thompson, who was released to make room on the roster for Tanner Gentry. If you haven’t heard of either of those players, well, then you’re getting the picture.
- The play-calling is one of many reasons I’m still on the Fire John Fox bandwagon (a list that starts with how he handled Jordan Howard through that shoulder injury and him just always sucking going back to before the Denver days), but apparently Bears reddit thinks that’s an “overreaction”
- Injuries have continued to be a problem for this team, whether it’s Kyle Long’s ankle, the aforementioned Zach Miller’s leg, whatever the hell is keeping Markus Wheaton out this week, and rotating injuries to Hroniss Grasu and Cody Whitehair, etc.
- Connor Barth. Fuck that guy with a rusty snow shovel
- John Fox’s game management, bullshit lies about confidence in Glennon, inability to manage challenges, and overall dumbassedness
- Mike Glennon, literally and figuratively
- Play-calling that makes you wonder if Dowell Loggains voluntarily gave up his testicles or had them forcibly removed
- Really stupid shit (like the above linked blocked FG return to the 1 fucking yard line and the Tarik Cohen brain fart)
- The remaining schedule: