Thursday, September 10, 2009

Morrissey! Why am I not Surprised, you Piece of Shit!

That line, of course, is one of Sean Connery's best in what's possibly the single greatest film of all time, The Rock*. But anyways, our friend Rick is back, and you of course shouldn't be surprised that the whole point is to crap on the Bears. Without further ado, he's in italics:

Sports Illustrated has the Bears going to the Super Bowl this season, raising the obvious question: Where does Lovie Smith find the time to coach an NFL team and write for a major publication?

Yeah, how dare those professional journalists taking an objective look at the Bears determine that with a legitimate offense, a hopefully improved defense, and the league's weakest schedule, they might be a competitor in a wide open NFC.

The magazine's prediction might be bold -- might even be meandering toward insane -- but on the other hand, what the heck. If you can't dream big before the regular season begins, when can you? Autumn and Jay Cutler passes are in the air, and lots of true believers in town already are feeling sorry for the '72 Dolphins.

Who? Who is feeling sorry for the '72 Dolphins. Other than the fact that they're the biggest group of asshats in the football world, who in Chicago is actually predicting this? Is he addressing the meatheads? Because that's DEFINITELY a worthwhile endeavor. David Haugh picked the Vikings. NFL Network picked the Packers. Hell, Mike Ditka picked the Packers. Nobody is buying Cutler=Superbowl. Morrissey just wants them to so that he can say "I told you so!" if the Bears fail to win a Superbowl this year.

Fervor almost always reaches critical mass in Chicago this time of year, but with the reviled Packers first on the schedule and Cutler at quarterback, it might be too much for some of the more excitable Bears fans, the ones with pre-existing heart conditions and/or heat-packing spouses who are tired of being asked to scout next week's opponent.

So he Is talking to the meatheads.

When has there been this much buzz surrounding the Bears? Even their most recent Super Bowl season, 2006, didn't produce the kind of anticipation we're seeing as the team readies for its Sunday night opener in Green Bay. Yes, the defense was exceptional in '06, but the quarterback was Rex Grossman.

Actually I was far more confident going into that season. The division was much weaker, the defense much more stout, and I WAS convinced Rex was the answer.

Might we have to go back to that most holy of holy years, 1985, to find similar levels of excitement? I don't mean to put these Bears on that level because they're not even close in terms of overall talent. But when has a blanket of enthusiasm covered the land like this?

That time I thought I saw Rick Morrissey dead on the street? Turns out it was just a hobo.

Is the galloping optimism warranted? No, but never underestimate the ardor of fans who have been deprived of a newfangled thing called "the forward pass." And here comes Cutler, with an arm like a deranged pitching machine.

I can imagine Rick trying to come up with that sentence. It just made the final cut over "The only passing most Bears fans are involved with involves their own gas!"

Can a quarterback make that big a difference?

Yes. Holy shit, yes. Are you fucking kidding me?

Maybe the better question is, Can a quarterback with Cutler's skills make an average Bears team that much better?

Yes.

First off, the guy is not a miracle worker, though there were off-season reports he could change water into beer. If he can keep his head on straight and if just one wide receiver starts playing like an NFL wide receiver, Cutler is worth one more victory this season and perhaps a wild-card berth for a team that went 9-7 last year.

Oh look, a shot at Cutler for drinking this spring. It's not like he's a single 26 year old with millions of dollars in disposable income and didn't have to work for another two to three months after the fact. Actually, Football Outsiders project the Bears to have the best record in the NFC. Not that I agree, but they use actual metrics rather than a pessimistic desire to tear down Cutler becuase they advocated the team would be better without him.

I know that's disappointing to those of you who wept joyfully and unapologetically after reading the SI prediction. But the defensive backfield remains a big question mark. The good news is that, perception-wise, Charles Tillman has turned into a Pro Bowl cornerback while he recovers from back surgery. If he stays off the field much longer, he can start writing his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Or he's just a solid cornerback with experience on a secondary lacking it. A secondary that every Bears fan, and every expert, I know or have read labels as the team's biggest problem.

And whoever Tommie Harris is these days, he's not Tommie Harris, circa 2005. He's closer to the Miller High Life delivery guy.

The guy had 5 sacks and 37 tackles in a "down" year. He looked good and got into the backfield repeatedly against Denver. He's healthy. He'll be starting week one. The rest of the defensive line has really taken to Marinelli's coaching and also look improved. And Miller High Life sucks, and those commercials should have died out two years ago. The champagne of beers, my ass.

To sum up, hope for a Super Bowl appearance centers on two things not involving psychedelics: Cutler being as good as hyped, which might be impossible even if he were Joe Montana in his prime, and the defense being above average, which is a huge challenge for a unit that talks the talk but walks with a limp.

Cutler hype has become Morrissey's straw man. No one that knows a damn thing about football is predicting him to singlehandedly carry them to a Superbowl. Morrissey's just saying they are so that even when he has a solid 3500 yd, 20+ td effort and the Bears make the playoffs, he can either say "yeah, but he wasn't even in the top 5 in____ and they didn't win the Superbowl! Guess I was right after all!" Meanwhile everyone else will go back to enjoying the fact that the Bears have an NFL quarterback and the hilarity that is Morrissey defending to the grave his statement that the Bears would be better off without him.

Oh, and the Bears are hoping running back Matt Forte doesn't go all Geovany Soto on them in his second year

Statistically most runningbacks improve from their first to second season. Hell, the three names I hear most often compared to Matt Forte are LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, and Marshall Faulk. Tell me if any of those three "regressed" in their second year.

OK, now the good news. Going by the NFL's strength of schedule formula, the Bears have the easiest schedule in the league, with their opponents' combined 2008 winning percentage at .414. When the Bears went to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season, they had the NFL's easiest schedule, as well, with opponents' winning percentage from the season before at .445.

I'm so damn tired of hearing that. You know who else gets to play the Lions twice this year? The Packers and the Vikings. Stop acting like Chicago is the only team that get's to benefit from a shot at Matt Millen's Mistakes.

I'm no mathematician, but the fact that they play 0-16 Detroit twice this season might be a factor in the easiest-schedule discussion. The word "easiest" comes with warning labels: the Bears face six opponents that made the playoffs last season: the Steelers, Ravens, Vikings, Cardinals, Falcons and Eagles.

The Steelers will be tough, as will the game in Baltimore, but they went 1-1 against the Vikings last year, the Cardinals are playing in Chicago in what will probably be cold weather (and their pass defense is, shall we say, sketchy?), they would have beaten the Falcons last year were it not for one retarded decision to squib kick, and they Did beat the Eagles last yar. I'll take it.

Mike Ditka, the buzz killer, says the Packers are going to win the NFC North. There are three possibilities here: A) he's right, B) he's very, very distracted after becoming a part owner in the Lingerie Football League or C) a combination of A and B. He's correct that the Bears won't win the division, but he has the wrong team in first. That would be the Vikings with Brett Favre.

Mike Ditka is a self parody at this point. Hell, he has been since about 1986. He's an obnoxious homer most of the time and I've yet to hear him offer one legitimate piece of football analysis outside of "______ is tough!" and "I'm gonna trade every fucking thing I have to pick up Ricky Williams! That'll work!" I'll survive his betrayal.

We're about to find out if a talented Bears quarterback can carve a passing game out of two tight ends and a running back. What better place to do it than Green Bay and what better team to do it against than the Packers?

Sigh. Back to the receivers again. Why does this seem familiar... let's go back....

From August 11th (the second time I ripped into Morrissey):

"Like I pointed out in my Cutler article, there are plenty of precedents for team's that can make the playoffs without great wide receivers, so long as there are options like tight ends or runningbacks."

And That was already a copy and paste from the First time I ripped into Morrissey, back on July 27th.

Also, here's an interesting piece from Football Outsiders on how Ron Turner has used, and can use, that same offense to create constant mismatches and help Cutler "carve out a passing game."

Come to think of it, Detroit and the Lions wouldn't have been such a bad option.

No shit.

Go to hell, Rick Morrissey

*-The Rock may not be the greatest movie of all time. But it is beyond awesome. If you haven't seen it, or worse, have seen it and didn't like it, you should just cut off your testicles right now, because you clearly don't need them. Since you aren't a man.