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Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm Sick

I started watching Bears football, by my memory, in 1993, when I was five years old. In that time the Bears have gone 7-9, 9-7, 9-7, 7-9, 4-12, 4-12, 6-10, 5-11, 13-3, 4-12, 7-9, 5-11, 11-5, 13-3, 7-9, and are now a middling 6-6 this year after tonight's disaster in Minnesota. If you're counting that's a 117-135, or a pretty pedestrian .464 winning %. I've had to watch Dave Wannstedt's hair-lipped ineptitude and Dick Jauron's blind loyalty to an offensive coordinator who seemed to think you can score by punting. The Lovie Smith era was supposed to fix all of that. For two years we had every reason to believe this team would earn consistent respectability year after year. After going 24-8 from 2005-2006, the arrow was pointing up. But since that time the Bears are 13-15, and back to bumbling their way from loss to loss, and I'm sick of it. For a long time I've defended Lovie Smith's questionable decisions, and while I'm not against him yet, I have to wonder what he's going to do to fix this mess, though the irony is that he created it. Since the end of Superbowl XLI he's made bizzare choice after bizarre choice. Why did we need to replace a coordinator who'd built one of the leagues strongest defense with a man with absolutely No experience as a coordinator at any level, and only a job (from which he was fired) as a head coach at North Dakota State as a notable mark on his resume. Why did we have to let a quality run stuffing defensive tackle, one once labelled by SI as the most underrated defensive player in the league, in Ian Johnson just go in order to replace him with a completely unproven quantity in Dustin Dvoracek? Why did we decide to first bench, and then trade, a remarkable young talent at safety in Chris Harris in favor of the disappointing Daniael Manning and broken veteran Adam Archuletta? Why did we call a vanilla prevent defense, one Smith is blindly devoted to, again and again after it cost us late leads against Carolina and Tampa Bay and Atlanta, and nearly cost us one against Minnesota earlier in the year? Why have we allowed the wide receiver position to become nearly bankrupt of any kind of talent, other than whatever the hell it is Devin Hester offers nowadays? Why wasn't one of the oldest offensive lines in football backed up with any kind of youthful insurance program? I thought this team had rebuilt itself from the ground up in the first three years of Lovie's reign, and yet now it continues to sink back into the mire that it created with the departure of Mike Ditka in 1992. I don't know what it will take to fix it, to be honest, whether Lovie needs to shake up his coaching staff or Angelo needs to reevaluate his approach to the draft and free agency, but I'm sick and tired of the people who Should now how to fix it continuing to dig the hole deeper and deeper and demanding unquestioning loyalty from a fan base that's seen this movie before.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

Naw man, Rex Grossman I could take, but Kyle Orton? Not a chance.

This article from the Chicago Tribune today discuss the speculation already arising that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb may look to head to Chicago if his days in Philadelphia are truly numbered, as many people believe they are. With all due respect to Mr. McNabb and his illustrious career, Kyle Orton would like to tell anyone wishing to replace him with an injury prone veteran that's six years older that they can kiss his neckbeard. No one quite knows why McNabb's suddenly become such a turnover machine, but that's not the only reason the idea of replacing a much cheaper and home grown option in Kyle Orton with a wild card in McNabb is a bad idea. Kyle's QB rating this year (88.1) is higher than McNabb's career average (85.3). Unless the next five games have Kyle go through some Rex-like meltdown, our boy's gonna be the man in Chicago for at least the 15-25 years. At which point he'll consider retirement after breaking every conceivable record. After his retirement he may try Canadian Football, because, fuck, if Henry Burris can throw for 5,000 yards there, you just KNOW K.O. can throw for 12,000. With his Left arm. Can Donovan McNabb do that? I think not. You'd have to agree with the quote from Trent Dilfer on this one:

"The Bears have their quarterback," Dilfer said. "[Orton] has played better football this year than Donovan McNabb has played in Philadelphia. I think you have your quarterback there for quite a while, and I like Donovan McNabb."

Donovan- Stay in Philly. Or go play for the 49ers or Lions or someone that actually NEEDS a quarterback next year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kyle Orton Receives First Annual "Not Rex Grossman" Award

Lest it be lost in the excitement over the Bears 27-3 drubbing of the hapless St. Louis Rams today, we at Start Kyle Orton would like to point out the fact that Kyle Orton has now set the Chicago Bears franchise record with 185 straight passes attempted without an interception. While Orton passed for just 139 yards, mostly in the first half as the Bears mostly attempted to control clock in the second, the Bears offense ran the ball efficiently and played smart football. Orton has now been awarded the coveted "Not Rex Grossman" Award, a prestigious accomplishment based on the following criteria:

1. Solid play from the quarterback position.
2. Effective at directing an offense and scoring points (Bears averaging 24.3 ppg).
3. No mind-numbingly stupid turnovers or "aww fuck it" interceptions.
4. Not Rex Grossman.

Upon receiving the award, Kyle had the following to say:

"Well, you know, I guess I just have a good head on my shoulders. I spend a lot of time watching game film and really honing my game in practice during the week. I try to keep my head about me during the game, keep awareness of the pocket and pressure and I guess I just make it a point not to make the big mistake that'll hurt the team. Sometimes you just gotta say "hey, he's not open, we'll punt it and get 'em the next go round." This award just really vindicates my approach toward the game and my goal each game of running the offense effectively and not pissing all over myself in a panicked, turnover producing manner."

Bears back-up quarterback Rex Grossman was also asked for comment:

"You know, I'd have to say there are sometime's that I too, wish I could not be Rex Grossman."

Grossman then sighed heavily as he grabbed his clipboard and left the locker room.

(also, if anyone saw the block K.O. threw to free Devin Hester on that reverse to start the game...Awesome)

SKO Extends It's Congratulations to...

Henry Burris: Champion.

Former Bears QB and Temple standout Henry Burris, whose Calgary Stampeders won the Grey Cup for the Canadian Football League championship. Burris, who played for the Bears in 2002 and earned a place on this prestigious list. "Crazy Legs" as we affectionately named him, threw for 328 yards and 1 touchdown, and also carried the ball 9 times for 79 yards as Calgary upset the favored Montreal Allouettes 22-14. In the 2008 CFL regular season Burris threw for 5,093 yards, 39 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and also lead all CFL quarterbacks with 595 rushing yards and 5 tds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If Only

Scene: Past midnight, Ron Rivera's office, San Diego Chargers training facility.

Enter: Ron Rivera, age 46, a Hispanic man with glasses and jet black hair. He is still an impressive figure 16 years after retiring as a linebacker. He sits at his desk, torn between joy at holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to only 11 points in his second game as defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, and grief at having lost the game 11-10. He plots new schemes to improve his defense for the next week's game against Peyton Manning's Colts.

Rivera: We'll have to get a rush on Manning, we've done a lot better the last two weeks (the Chargers have allowed only 15 ppg under Rivera, as opposed to 25 ppg under his predecessor, Ted Cottrell), but there's still room for improvement.

(Suddenly: noise drifts in through the open window of his office, it is Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes")

Music: ... I drive off in my car but whichever way I go I come back to the place you are...

Rivera slowly puts down his research on the Colts and looks to the window

Music: all my instincts, they return and the grand facade, so soon will burn without a noise, without my pride I reach out from the inside..

Rivera walks over to the window and is shocked to see...

Bears MLB Brian Urlacher, tears streaming down his face, sings with the music:

in your eyes
, the light the heat, in your eyes, I am complete, in your eyes I see the doorway to a thousand churches, in your eyes the resolution of all the fruitless searches, in your eyes I see the light and the heat, in your eyes oh, I want to be that complete I want to touch the light the heat I see in your eyes

Ron Rivera: Brian? Brian, is that you?
Urlacher (shuts off the music): Ron! ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!! We need you. Hell, I need you. I'm a mess without ya. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you. I miss being near you! I miss your laugh! I miss – I miss your scent. I miss your musk.

Ron Rivera: Brian, please. I'm with the Chargers now. I know we had some good times but Lovie didn't want me there anymore.

Urlacher: This isn't about Lovie or Bob Babich or anybody, well, actually that's entirely what this is about, but it's also about you, Ron. And its about me! I need you back! You made me whole. I'm not me without you, and honestly, ask yourself if you're really You.

Ron Rivera: I...I don't really like Norv Turner, I mean his brother Ron can sometimes be a douche and a half, but he never had the authority to mess with me. But Norv, whenever he drags his leathery pockmarked handbag of a face over here I just wanna smack him with a clipboard. And Luis Castillo's roid rage is sometimes uncomfortable for all of us...

Urlacher: Then come back Ron! Chicago is your home!

Ron Rivera: Maybe someday Brian, maybe someday.

End Scene.

Scene: Same time, Bob Babich's office, Chicago. Bob Babich, Caveman, sits at his desk writing away frantically. He looks up in maniacal delight.

Babich: We'll see how they like this new defense!

If I put everyone right in front of the first down line, they can't Possibly get one!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Somewhat Like Christ Descending...Orton Probably for Sunday Against Green Bay

Orton probable vs. Green Bay. For those of you used to the Murphy's Law nature of Chicago sports, the fact that he managed to miss only one game after what looked like a crippling injury is nothing short of miraculous.

And lo, in the city of Big Shoulders, God said unto Code Red, "I shall give you a savior, and his name shall be Kyle Orton."

Also, ESPN said four weeks. We just like to point out when they're wrong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Talented Mr. Angelo? Part Deuce

The final phase of a GM's job is free agent and trade acquisitions. So today we'll review year by year some of Angelo's biggest signings and trades, and the grade I assign each transaction, and each year.


Free Agents-

Ted Washington DT- A.
Ted Washington was crucial to the defense during their 2001 run, and was a key defensive player in Gregg Blache's scheme

Keith Traylor DT-B+.
Not exactly as good as Ted, but a very serviceable starter for several years.

Fred Baxter TE-C
. Baxter put up forgettable numbers (27 rec, 199 yds, 2 tds) in 19 games as a Bear. Avoids a lower grade due to forcing the Bears to move him after criticizing John Shoop.

Larry Whigham DB
-D. A former Pro Bowler with the Patriots, Whigham played sparingly and never recorded an interception as a Bear.

Danny Wuerffel QB
-A. The guy gives up football and becomes a preacher, then a hurricane destroys his home. This is pure sympathy. 3rd stringer for one year who never played a down. Took Cade McNown's roster spot, and thus the A.

Alfonso Boone DT-B.
Though never spectacular, Boone was a pretty solid backup defensive tackle in 6 seasons as a Bear.

Trades- Traded QB Cade McNown to the Dolphins for a 6th round pick. A+++

Overall Grade for 2001: B


Free Agents-

Chris Chandler QB- D.
Signed to back up the inconsistent and fragile Jim Miller, Chris Chandler could never A) stay healthy or B) play well.

Henry Burris QB- F. An interesting project had he not been forced to, you know, play. Sucked horribly when he did. Dropped after one year.
Overall Grade for 2002: D-


Free Agents-

Kordell Stewart QB-D.
Inconsistent at best, fucking awful at worst, Kordell was one of the biggest in a long line of flops in the attempt to address the QB conundrum through free agency.

Desmond Clark TE-A. Tragically underutilized in his first three years in Chicago, Desmond has been an absolute stud for Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, and pairs with Greg Olsen for one of the best tight end grops in the NFL.

Overall Grade for 2003: C+


Free Agents-

Jonathan Quinn QB-F.
Oh God. Just Awful.

Thomas Jones RB-A. The only bad thing about this signing was letting the man go. Forte eases some of the pain though.

Qasim Mitchell T- D-. Played the most important position on a line that gave up a Bears record 66 sacks.

Jeff George QB- C. Simply a desperation move, never saw the field.
John Tait T-A. Has been solid at either tackle position since joining the Bears.

Ruben Brown G- B. Hurt for much of 2004, gave the Bears a solid 2005 and 2006 before crapping out in 2007.

Hunter Hillenmeyer LB- A. We constantly look for his replacement, and yet he's been a solid starter for almost five seasons.

Chad Hutchinson QB-C. Its not like we had too many options.

Traded Marty Booker to Dolphins for Adewale Ogunleye- A. Wally's been pretty solid and Marty's back, so win-win.

Traded 6th round pick for FB Bryan Johnson- C. The guy could never stay healthy. Ever.

2004 Overall Grade: C+


Free Agents-

Muhsin Muhammed, WR- B-.
Never really was worth the big contract and his hands were a lot more suspect in Chicago than they were in Carolina

Fred Miller, T-B. Like Ruben Brown, provided a solid 2005 and 2006 before crapping out last year.

Roberto Garza, G- B+. Consistently effective starter at guard.

Brandon McGowan S- B. Played fairly well at times for a guy from whom nothing was expected.

Marc Edwards, FB- B.
Solid stand in during one of Bryan Johnson's many injuries.

Robbie Gould, K- A.
Fantastic kicker. Period.

Jeff Blake, QB- B.
Played pretty well in his only appearance.

John St. Clair, T- B+. Has been a big part of the offensive line's surprising resurgence this year.

Trades- Traded 7th round pick to Dolphins for LB Brendon Ayanbadejo. B.

Overall Grade for 2005: B+


Free Agents-

Ricky Manning, Jr. CB- C+.
Was pretty effective during the 06 run, but disappeared last year.

Brian Griese QB- C-. In a way was almost as responsible for this wesbite as was Kyle Orton. Just not in a good way.

Dante Wesley CB- C. Not much of a contributor outside of special teams.

2006 Overall Grade: C


Free Agents-

Anthony Adams DT- B.
Not soo shabby backup/substitute.

Traded Chris Harris to Carolina for 5th round pick-D.
Traded 6th round pick to Washington for Adam Archuleta, S-D.
Traded Thomas Jones to Jets for switch of 2nd round picks-D.
Traded conditional pick for Darwin Walker, DT-D.

Overall Grade for 2007: D+.


Free Agents-

Brandon Lloyd WR- B.
Can turn this into an A if he Ever gets back from his injury and resumes production.

Marty Booker WR- B. Has been a solid veteran leader on this team and has made some great plays this year.

Overall Grade for 2008: B.

Jerry's Overall Grade (2001-2008) on Free Agents and Trades: C+

So overall his Win-Loss record merits a B, his draft picks a B+, and his Free Agents and Trades a C+ for a B average. Comprehensive evaluation gives Jerry Angelo a passing grade with room for improvement, though one variable which must be taken into account is the horrendous state of the organization he inherited, which in the eight years before his arrival (1993-2000) had effectively bankrupted the team's talent through mismanagement on the part of Dave Wannstedt, Mark Hatley, and Michael McCaskey. During that time the team went 51-77 and made such horrible first round choices as John Thierry, Rashaan Salaam, trading a first round pick for Rick Mirer, Curtis Enis, and Cade McNown. So overall Jerry's resuscitation of the franchise (as well as the fact that I now know he is Not to blame for David Terrell) merits an extra notch and puts him in the B+ to A- range.

The Talented Mr. Angelo?

There have been many polarizing figures in Bears history. Rex Grossman has his ardent supporters and the thousands who boo his every move. Fans often took different sides in support or opposition of former Bears coach Dick Jauron, as many nowadays are taking sides for and against Lovie Smith (your humble narrator is for), fans were split on those who hated Dave Wannstedt and those who Really fucking hated Dave Wannstedt. One of the more divisive characters in recent Bears history has been Bears GM Jerry Angelo, who first took the reigns of the team in 2001. The two opposing sides on Angelo usually amount to this.

Pro Angelo- Angelo makes solid draft choices in the later rounds, he has managed the cap while fielding a competitive team, he has a winning record, three division titles, and a conference championship as GM.

Anti Angelo- He gives up too many good players (Roosevelt Colvin, Thomas Jones, Chris Harris, etc.), his first round picks often suck (David Terrell, Marc Colombo, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson), he's not really responsible for most of the team's success.

So where do we begin in evaluating the real value of Mr. Angelo?

The easiest to calculate is his win loss record as general manger. Since taking over the Bears in 2001, Angelo is 65-56, which ranks 11th in the NFL over that period and 5th in the NFC since that period, thats the upper third of the league, although not top ten or particularly outstanding, so I give him a B. here's the records of all 32 teams since 2001:

1. Patriots: 92-29
2. Colts:84-37
3. Steelers:79-41-1
4. Eagles: 77-44
5. Packers:73-48
6. Broncos:71-50
7. Seahawks:69-52
8. Chargers:67-54
9t. Titans:66-55
9t. Ravens:66-55
11. Bears:65-56
12. Giants:64-57
13. Bucs:63-58
14. Cowboys:62-59
15. Jaguars:61-60
16. Rams:60-61
17t. Jets:59-62
17t. Panthers:59-62
19. Chiefs:58-63
20. Falcons:57-63-1
21. Saints:56-65
22. Redskins:56-65
23. Vikings:56-65
24. Dolphins: 55-66
25. Bengals: 51-70
26. Bills:50-71
27. 49ers:49-72
28. Browns:48-73
29. Cardinals:46-75
30. Raiders 42-79
31. Texans:35-70
32. Lions:31-90

Another category I used to evaluate Jerry Angelo was draft-pick retention. This I defined as the number of draft picks that he's chosen over the years that remain on the Bears roster. The Bears under Angelo have made 77 draft picks since 2001, the most by any NFL team over that span. They retain 28 of those 77, a success rate of 36%. Granted, most NFL teams have long since parted ways with even their successful picks of the 2001 or 2002 drafts given free agency and the like, but it was just easier to count the entire body of work. The Bears total number of draft picks that remain on their roster that have been chosen over the last 8 years qualifies them for 9th out of that time period, here's how the rest of the NFL stacks up [number of picks retained/picks taken (number of first round draft picks retained/number of first rounders taken)]:

1 .32/70 (8/8) Ravens
2. 31/67 (6/6) Colts
3. 29/68 (5/8) Seahawks
4. 29/67 (4/6) Eagles
5. 29/70 (4/7) Packers
6. 29/70 (5/10) 49ers
7. 29/74 (4/6) Titans
8. 28/63 (8/8) Cowboys
9. 28/77 (4/8) Bears
10. 27/58 (5/9) Cardinals
11 .27/62 (4/9) Lions
12. 27/62 (7/8) Chargers
13. 27/66 (8/9) Panthers
14. 27/66 (6/8) Bengals
15. 27/68 (6/8) Jaguars
16. 26/58 (4/7) Giants
17. 26/61 (8/8) Steelers
18. 26/64 (5/10) Raiders
19. 26/67 (8/9) Patriots
20. 25/70 (5/6) Buccaneers
21. 24/60 (7/8) Texans
22. 24/66 (5/8) Falcons
23. 23/72 (5/10) Rams
24. 22/64 (6/7) Chiefs
25. 22/57 (7/9) Saints
26. 21/56 (6/9) Jets
27. 20/68 (6/9) Bills
28. 20/59 (5/8) Browns
29. 20/49 (3/6) Redskins
30. 19/56 (4/8) Vikings
31. 19/60 (4/7) Broncos
32. 19/60 (5/6) Dolphins

Now there's a couple ways to look at this. While several of the teams in the top ten in draft pick retention are also in the top ten in wins (Colts, Seahawks, Ravens, Titans, Eagles, Packers), three of the least successful teams (49ers, Cardinals) are also in the top ten. The reasons for their high ranking is mostly attributable to rebuilding programs that have kept almost every pick from the last few drafts on the roster with an emphasis on youth over experience. The Patriots and Steelers compensate for their somewhat low rankings on overall draft pick retention with incredible success rates on their first round picks, with 8/9 for the Patriots and 8/8 for the Steelers. Angelo has notoriously struggled in the first round, as only 4 of his 8 first rounders remain on the roster, with Rex Grossman sure to be gone after this season. What's remarkable is his ability to overcome these failures. Round by round here are Angelo's picks (current roster members in bold)

1st Round (4/8)- David Terrell, Marc Colombo, Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Tommie Harris, Cedric Benson, Greg Olsen, Chris Williams

2nd Round (4/8)- Anthony Thomas, Charles Tillman, Tank Johnson, Mark Bradley, Daniael Manning, Devin Hester, Dan Bazuin, Matt Forte

3rd Round (6/10)-
Mike Gandy, Roe Williams, Terrence Metcalf, Lance Briggs, Bernard Berrian, Dusty Dvoracek, Garrett Wolfe, Michael Okwo, Earl Bennett, Marcus Harrison

4th Round (6/10)-
Karon Riley, Alex Brown, Todd Johnson, Ian Scott, Nathan Vasher, Leon Joe, Kyle Orton, Jamar Williams, Josh Beekman, Craig Steltz

5th Round (5/14)-
Bernard Robertson, Bobby Gray, Bryan Knight, Bobby Wade, Justin Gage, Tron LaFavor, Claude Harriott, Craig Krenzel, Airese Currie, Mark Anderson, Kevin Payne, Corey Graham, Zack Bowman, Kellen Davis

6th Round (1/8)-Adrian Peterson,
Jamin Elliot, Bryan Fletcher, Joe Odom, Brock Forsey, Chris Harris, JD Runnels, Tyler Reed,

7th Round (3/11)-
John Capel, Bryan Anderson, Alfonso Marshall, Rod Wilson, Trumaine McBride, Aaron Brant, Ervin Baldwin, Chester Adams, Joey Larocque, Kirk Barton, Marcus Monk

As you can see, Angelo's shooting .500 in the two money rounds, the first and second, but compensates for it with a 60% success rate in the third and foruth rounds. Many people criticize him hard for missing on so many first rounders, and with good cause, but in my opinion many of those big money misses like Cedric Benson are quite compensated by a third round gold mine find like Lance Briggs, or a fourth round STEAL LIKE KYLE ORTON. Since he's in the top 10 in the NFL in overall draft pick retention, I'm giving him an B+, falling just short of an A since I really hated David Terrell and Cedric Benson.

So in both the win category, and the draft pick category, Angelo is at least a B average, not greatness, but pretty solid. Tomorrow: The Free Agents and Trades. I know you're riveted.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, Angelo was hired AFTER the 2001 draft, which absolves him of the blame of that awful draft class. I really don't feel like editing all of this to make the change, so just ignore David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, and friends. My bad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Geovany Soto Makes Code Red's Girlfriends Day by Winning ROTY, Ruins it by Being Married.

This should have been mentioned yesterday and for that I apologize , but the Girlfriend made sure that it received its proper mention today, so here's a heartfelt SKO congratulations to Geovany Soto for winning National League Rookie of the Year. We're all proud of you, especially the Girlfriend, who'd once more like to point out that she picked you to be her favorite player well before the season started. And she'd probably leave me for you in a second. Thank you for being married.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

God Bless You All

Bears Team That Can't Stop Pass Heads to Green Bay to Face Team That Can't Stop Run

Well, its the first Green Bay week of 2008, and a lot is at stake for the Bears, if they win, they knock Green Bay 2 games back and set themselves up pretty well for the game at Minnesota the week after. If they lose, well then the NFC North remains a cloudy mess of suck. Here's the numbers:

Bears Offense vs. Packers Defense 2008

Passing YPG- 213.0(13th) vs. 179.1 (3rd)
Rushing YPG- 110.6(15th) vs. 154.6 (28th)
Total YPG- 323.6 (17th) vs. 333.7 (21)
Total PPG- 26.3 (6th) vs. 22.8 (18th)

Packers Offense vs. Bears Defense 2008

Passing YPG-
221.4 (11th) vs. 251.8 (30th...eee gad)
Rushing YPG- 98.1 (23rd) vs. 74.9 (4th)
Total YPG- 326.7 (17th) vs. 319.6 (19th)
Total PPG- 26.3 (6th) vs. 21.6 (15th)

So basically these teams are fairly middle of the pack (though the Bears offensive numbers have taken a slight dip with 6 straight quarters of Grossman) in all areas but two: the Packers pass defense and the Bears run defense. Not surprisingly you should expect to see a lot of Aaron Rodgers passes and Matt Forte runs this game. The tiebreaker will hopefully be this guy:

Who by all accounts will play and will provide the Bears with a better balance on offense than the Packers should have, as Ryan Grant's struggled most of the year and our run defense should grind him down more than their pass defense wears down Kyle, as he's not one prone to make poor decisions or panic. That, and he beat the Packers 35-7 last December. A common trend in the Bears-Packers Rivalry of late, as Lovie's teams are 6-2 against the Packers, and 5-1 against Mike McCarthy. Those last 8:

December 23, 2007: Bears 35, Packers 7
October 7, 2007: Bears 27, Packers 20
December 31, 2006: Packers 26, Bears 7
September 10, 2006: Bears 26, Packers 0
December 25, 2005: Bears 24, Packers 17
December 4, 2005: Bears 19, Packers 7
January 2, 2005: Packers 31, Bears 14
September 19, 2004: Bears 21, Packers 10

Not to make excuses (read: making excuses) but in the two losses to the Packers during the Lovie years, the December 2006 game came when the Bears had clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and most of their starters did not play the second half, and the 2005 game (actually the last game of the 2004 season), the Bears had 16 players on injured reserve, including Rex Grossman, Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, and three different offensive linemen. So, basically the Bears have won every game since 2004 in which they fielded an actual team. Here's to two more and a division title this year.

Go Bears.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Fall of the House of Grossman

It was October 16th, 2006. The Bears were 5-0 and coming off 26-0, 34-7, 37-6, and 40-7 blowouts against the Packers, Lions, Seahawks, and Bills, with only a 19-16 squeaker against the Vikings having made them look even remotely human at that point in the season. The Arizona Cardinals were 1-4 and rookie Matt Leinart and the crabs he'd gotten from Paris Hilton were making their second career NFL start. Barack Obama had teased the country by announcing before the game on ESPN that "he was ready...for the Bears to go all the way," fueling the rumors swirling around a possible presidential run. But most of all, Rex Grossman was on fire, averaging nearly 250 yards per game with a 61% completion rate, 10 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions, and was the recipient of the NFL's Offensive Player of the Month Award for September, an award the Bears see about as frequently as Terrell Owens sees the need to keep his mouth shut on a given subject. A packed University of Phoenix stadium crowd gathered for what was assumed to be a Bears rout.

But it was not to be.

The Cardinals came out fired up, Matt Leinart became one of the first, though as anyone who has watched the Bears this year knows not the last, quarterbacks to exploit the soft zones in the Bears coverage schemes with short passes, and the Bears offense started atrociously, with the offense limited to just 168 total yards in the game, the Cardinals jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime and began the end of Rex Grossman's career in Chicago. Pressured and panicked, Rex threw for only 144 yards and 4 interceptions. The Bears overcame Grossman's shortcomings and scored two defensive touchdowns and a punt return from Devin Hester to pull out 24-23 win that prompted Denny Green's famous "the Bears are who we thought they were!" rant. While pundits had field day with Green's meltdown, the line "the Bears are who they they were" has turned out far more prophetic in the case of Rex Grossman.

Denny Green had found Rex's weakness, and the NFL was quick to copy it. Team's went out of their way to pressure Rex, to force bad decisions, to take advantage of his lack of mobility and clog his passing lanes, leading to more tipped passes than any of us care to remember. Rex hit a wall, and for the rest of the season he was a less than impressive 155-291 (53%) for 1,806 yds (180.6 ypg), 13 tds, 13 ints, and a McNownesque 68.6 rating. The up-and-down roller coaster that he was throughout the Superbowl run and the disaster of last season is well documented. The question is, why?

Rex struggled with pressure, what quarterback didn't? He was short, but short quarterbacks have been successful elsewhere (Drew Brees is actually listed as one inch shorter). Something in Rex Grossman snapped that day against Arizona, and never again was he the same quarterback he was before. There are many theories as to what forever stalled his development and kept him from progressing beyond that wall, but yesterday's Titans game most likely represented the finale in Chicago for a man who once bore the city's biggest dreams on his shoulders.

I for one point to the knee injury and ankle injury that kept him off the field for the vitally important second and third years of his career. 2004 was meant to be Rex Grossman's first full season, a year where growing pains were expected and an up and down season like the 2006 would have been viewed as far more of a success. 2005 was to be Rex's rebound, but the ankle injury which kept him out until the 15th game of the season kept him from even practicing new coordinator Ron Turner's offense, which represented his 5th new system in 5 years going back to his sophomore year of college. For whatever reason, some perfect storm of injuries, lack of proper training within the system, poor coaching, and fan hostility shattered the pysche of Rex Grossman, and left him the schizophrenic Rex we know today. Though the Good Rex/ Bad Rex debate lasted throughout 2007, more or less it had become Bad Rex/ Atrocious Rex, and yesterday's game was a microcosm of that. A 75 yard drive perfectly executed against the league's best defense followed immediately by a forced pass that was intercepted. Three full quarters of offensive ineptitude. In the end Grossman walked off the field to the boos that have long since beaten down even his most ardent of former supporters (read: Me).

I'm not a big believer in "what might have been." I don't sit and ask what Rex Grossman could be right now without the injuries, or with a better offensive line, or if that Arizona game had gone much differently. I am concerned only with what was, and what is. What was a quarterback who'd responded to two years of frustration with a 5 game stretch the likes of which Chicago had never seen, a quarterback who seemed to stand at the precipice of greatness and a certain championship, is now a broken down bust, a kid whose once astounding confidence in himself and his arm is now gone, no matter how he talks to the press. Kyle Orton is this team's franchise quarterback, and for that I am grateful. He's put up the kind of numbers we'd once believed Rex capable of. He does it with far less flash than Rex did in his best moments, but with far more consistency. For what its worth I'll not forget who Rex Grossman was in those first five games of 2006, even if I've long since moved on.

In closing, I'll say only this: no player in Bears history bore the kind of scrutiny that clung to Rex with every breath. Some of it was warranted, most of it was not. He may not have earned the ire and malice fans reserved for a Cade McNown or Dave Wannstedt, but he certainly chafed under the highest expectations. On countless opportunities he could have succumbed to the temptation to lash out and swear back at the doubters and naysayers who plagued his every move. At times the media seemed be trying to provoke him into it, as if hoping for an outburst that would perhaps alleviate their hidden guilt at attacking him with such abandon. If his 19-12 record as a starter didn't attest that he was, at least, a winner in one regard, one can point to the fact that he never gave into the press's determination to destroy his dignity. In that way at least, it can always be said that they never beat Rex Grossman.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Orton Practices, Listed as Doubtful for Sunday's Game

This is a day late, but according to this article from Yahoo! Sports, Orton practiced yesterday but is listed as doubtful for the Titans game. Regardless of whether he plays or not, the boost it had to give to his team to see a guy whose season seemed completely Over on Sunday dropping back and taking snaps must have been huge. We here at Start Kyle Orton once more applaud the Wolverine-like healing factor of our demi-God quarterback.
All Hail Ortonia!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kyle Hoping to Defy ESPN, Play Sunday

The latest news from both the Chicago Tribune and is that Orton wants to play against Tennessee this Sunday. While this is a good sign, even those of us here at SKO think he might want to take the game off and come back against Green Bay. Let Rex take his mauling at the hands of Tennessee's defense...better this..

Than this..

Who knows? Rex could win the thing and get himself a contract somewhere else for next year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Prognostication Bukakke Round 2 Results

After the Steelers win last night the results for week two are as follows:

Father: 10-4
Code Red:9-5

Father: 19-9
Iggins!: 18-10
Code Red: 17-11
Girlfriend: 17-11

Clinging to Optimism

This article by the Sun Times declares that their source tells them Kyle does Not have a high ankle sprain and will miss less time than the month that ESPN's Michael Smith reported and the 3-4 weeks (because ESPN said month, we have to say weeks) that NFL Network reports. So basically, do you trust the Sun Times or ESPN? As I'm an American, I'll trust whoever tells me what I want to hear.

No Mere Ankle Injury Can Slow a Demi God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

College Football Roundup and Code Red Rankings 11/03/08

AP Top 25 Results:

Cincinnati 24, #24 South Florida 10
Once more this just proves my theory that South Florida should never be ranked. Period.

California 26, #23 Oregon 16
Oregon continues the downfall that began the day Iggins! declared Dennis Dixon his Heisman candidate and subsequently doomed his knee and the program.

#22 Michigan State 25, Wisconsin 24
Wisconsin makes me feel somewhat better by playing a second consecutive tough game? Ehh. Bret Bielema's kind of a moron for calling a timeout to allow the Spartans to set up the game winning field goal.

Northwestern 24, #20 Minnesota 17
I don't know what on earth could have possessed Minnesota QB Adam Webster to heave a desperation pass into triple coverage that was intercepted and returned for the winning touchdown. It was a tie game! Go to overtime you idiot!

Arkansas 30, Tulsa 23
Iggins! favorite coach Bobby Petrino ends Tulsa's undefeated season.

#17 BYU 45, Colorado State 42
BYU- the Mountain West's Texas Tech.

Georgia Tech 31, #16 Florida State 28
Good. There was no reason FSU should have been ranked anyways. I continue my lovefest for Georgia Tech (now 7-2) and Paul Johnson's triple wing offense.

#15 LSU 35, Tulane 10
Yeah, whatever LSU, no one's impressed with your defeat of a Matt Forte-less Tulane.

#14 Missouri 31, Baylor 28
Baylor comes short of the upset, which is disappointing as I want Missouri to burn to the ground as an Illini fan.

#12 TCU 44, UNLV 14
The Horned Frogs continue their dominance of the Mountain West.

#11 Boise State 49, New Mexico State 0
Well that's just swell.

#10 Utah 13, New Mexico 10
Utah is #10? Seriously?

#9 Oklahoma State 59, Iowa State 17
I'm putting the over/under of combined points in this weeks Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game at 90.

#5 Florida 49, #8 Georgia 10
How's that national champion Bulldogs prediction look now, Sports Illustrated? I still think Florida can win the SEC.

#7 USC 56, Washington 0
So the Huskies didn't exactly come out firing for now lame duck coach Ty Willingham.

#4 Oklahoma 62, Nebraska 28
These Nebraska blowout losses were more fun when Bill Callahan was the head coach.

#6 Texas Tech 39, Texas 33

Code Red's Top 25
1. Texas Tech
2. Florida
3. Alabama
4. Penn State
5. Texas
6. USC
7. Oklahoma
8. Oklahoma State
9. Ohio State
10. Missouri
11. Boise State
12. Utah
13. TCU
14. LSU
15. Georgia
16. Michigan State
17. BYU
18. Georgia Tech
19. Ball State
20.West Virginia
21. North Carolina
22. Maryland
23. Northwestern
25. Kansas

SKO Rankings-
1. Illinois
2. Iowa

Browns to Start Brady Quinn

We switch our focus from my obsessing over Kyle's health to the foolish Browns fans who think that this will save their season. At least I can finally shut down this website*.

Brady Quinn works on his mechanics chest deep in water....naked.

(*I swear to God if any of you thinks this is anything but my joke I will hunt you down and gut you like a fish)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lest We Let Kyle's Injury Suck All the Mirth Out of the Weekend..

This is the look of boredom that is perpetually fixed to Kirk Ferentz. It says it all really.

"Why did my offense flounder so dramatically in crucial spots on Saturday's game?"
Well Kirk, this can be explained in several ways. First, your team meast, Shonn Greene, was his godlike self for one quarter and played the other three like he was channeling his inner Cedric Benson. Also, your quarterback is still looking for his ass, which is buried under 12 feet of Memorial Stadium turf after your vaunted Ferentz o-line gave up 6 sacks. It doesn't help that your offensive coordinator called the game like he'd bet money on the Illini.

"How did I lose to Ron Zook?"
Well, actually Kirk, Ron did everything that entails a Zook loss. Did we blow a lead by calling soft defensive coverages despite only having a two possession lead with quite a bit of time remaining? You bet your ass we did. Did we call the option repeatedly with little to no results? 12 times for 30 yards you crazy SOB! Did we commit a soul crushing personal foul to allow the tying/winning score? How's unnecessary roughness treat ya? Quite simply, you lost because Juice stirred up enough badassity to drive downfield to win the game.

Am I, and are most of my fans, trash talking morons?
Hell yes. 27-24. Also, the aforementioned trash talking moron dared rationalize that "Iowa played better, Red Zone offense and ints killed us." Other than the fact that Illinois outscored you, outgained you, had the same number of turnovers, gained more yards per play, gave up 6 fewer sacks and performed better on third down, you totally outplayed us.


To Be Seen Again in 2008??

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's William Jackson reports Kyle's ankle is not broken, that he was in high spirits, left under his own power, and that his injury does not appear to be season ending. Please God let him be back to beat Tennessee.

On a different note: to hell with any Bears fan who booed Rex Grossman on his first drive this game. What the hell? It's not like the Bears benched Kyle and threw Rex in for the hell of it. He was our only option and you booed him?? There's no reason NOT to give the kid all the support you can and hope he can pull a win out, which he did. Granted, the numbers were not close to spectacular, but the interception was hardly his fault and he played about as well as a guy who's been playing scout team quarterback for the last 8 weeks would play. Rex is Not Cade McNown. He is a guy who went out there, gave his best effort every game he played and just didn't work out. He stood up to the media when they relentlessly harassed even his good games. He never lashed out at coaches, teammates, press members, or fans, or made excuses. He worked his way back from injury after injury and was nothing but classy about his demotion in favor of Brian Griese or Kyle. Nobody wanted Rex to have to play today, but it was a classless display to boo the backup for just trying to do his job when the starter went down. We at SKO give Rex a big thumbs up for not shitting his pants and participating in a great comeback win.

Celebrate Rex, we'll remember this one.

Update: ESPN and Chicago Tribune both reporting Kyle out up to a month with a high ankle sprain. This is all pending an MRI tomorrow. Cross your fingers and hope its not that bad.

Second Update: NBC reports that Kyle drove himself home and told a friend he hopes to play next Sunday. God only knows what the hells going on.

Please Man...

Do you speak to I?

Please just let Kyle be OK? Please?!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Cue the Battle Hymn of the Republic:






Prognostication Bukakke! Round Two!

Predictions for week Two:

Jets @ Bills:
Code Red: Bills
Iggins!: Bills
Girlfriend: Jets
Father: Jets

Jaguars @ Bengals:
Code Red: Jaguars
Iggins!: Jaguars
Girlfriend: Bengals (Tigers are badass).
Father: Jaguars

Code Red: Ravens
Iggins!: Browns
Girlfriend: Browns
Father: Ravens

Texans@ Vikings:
Code Red: Texans
Iggins!: Texans
Girlfriend: Vikings (I will never choose the Texans. That name is stupid).
Father: Texans

Buccaneers @ Chiefs:
Code Red: Bucs
Iggins!: Bucs
Girlfriend: Buccaneers (the Tampa Bay Rays were way better than the Royals)
Father: Bucs

Cardinals @ Rams:
Code Red: Rams
Iggins!: Rams
Girlfriend: Rams
Father: Rams

Packers @ Titans:
Code Red: Titans
Iggins!: Titans
Girlfriend: Packers
Father: Titans

Dolphins @ Broncos:
Code Red: Broncos
Iggins!: Dolphins
Girlfriend: Broncos (though Dolphins are smarter than horses)
Father: Dolphins

Cowboys @ Giants:
Code Red: Giants
Iggins!: Giants
Girlfriend: Giants
Father: Cowboys

Eagles @ Seahawks:
Code Red: Eagles
Iggins!: Eagles
Girlfriend: Eagles
Father: Eagles

Falcons@ Raiders:
Code Red: Falcons
Iggins!: Falcons
Girlfriend: Falcons
Father: Falcons

Patriots @ Colts:
Code Red: Colts
Iggins!: Colts
Girlfriend: Patriots
Father : Colts

Steelers @ Redskins:
Code Red: Steelers
Iggins!: Redskins
Girlfriend: Steelers
Father: Steelers

Lions @ BEARS:
Code Red: BEARS
Iggins!: BEARS
Girlfriend: BEARS
Father: BEARS