Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Once More Unto the Breach: Me and Rick Morrissey

Y'all know the score: Morrissey's a dumbass and I'm not going to take it. He's in italics.

Don't let a stupid NFL rule cloud your judgment about how the Bears played Sunday.

Exactly. The Bears dominated the Lions by 300 yards and were it not for 3 fumbles, which is a flukey total by any measure, this game wouldn't have been close. The defense played exteremely well. It was a fine, fine performance outside of the turnovers. Good observation, Rick.

Don't let the controversy over the way the game ended take away from the fact that they were scary bad for long stretches at Soldier Field.

Oh. Never mind. What were those long stretches, by the way? The 6 total seconds it took to fumble three times? It certainly wasn't the 35 minutes that they controlled the clock, or the time they spent racking up a 21-13 edge in first downs while racking up 463 yards of offense for the first time in 13 years.

Before you get mired in the legalese surrounding Calvin Johnson's touchdown-that-wasn't, remember whom the Bears were playing. The lowly Lions.

This is a fair criticism, I'd think. And it is worth cautioning people against overreacting, but even in last year's sweep of the Lions the Bears allowed Detroit to rack up over 300+ yards and 24 points, and the Bears offense had just 276 yards in the first game against the Lions last year. So it was still a much improved performance from last year and Morrissey is still an awful human being. It's science.

And remember who was playing quarterback for Detroit at the end of the game. Shaun Hill, not Matthew Stafford.

Exactly. The Lions would have torched the Bears in the second half if Stafford had played, since he racked up a whopping 83 yards passing in the first half to Hill's meager 89 yards passing in the second half.

''An ugly win,'' Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris called his team's 19-14 victory. He'll probably get spanked for his honesty when he reports back to the gulag in Lake Forest, but he was right.

Did he just compare playing for Lovie Smith, the coach criticized more times than I count for being weak and a terrible disciplinarian, to being held in a Soviet gulag?

You want ugly?

The Bears couldn't score in a four-down series from inside Detroit's 1-yard line.

True. That sucked and it featured some very poor calls, including a decision not to sneak. But did you miss the part where the defense forced a punt and the team scored the game winning TD on the very next drive?

They lost three fumbles.

Which is almost double the per game average they've had over the last six years. But that's totally not a fluke at all. We can clearly expect that kind of performance every week resulting in 48 fumbles, which would be only 8 away from an NFL record. Clearly that is what is going to happen and this outweighs the Bears' statistical dominance in every other category.

Devin Aromashodu dropped a wide-open touchdown pass on the Bears' first series.

Certainly a dropped pass on the first offensive series of the year is a harbinger of doom.

There were dumb penalties and dumb coaching decisions.

I'm going to quote the always awesome Pat Kirwan of NFL.com regarding the Bears awful penalties:

"I always look at Week 1 penalties for an indication of what the officials are looking to call differently from last year. They like to call it "a point of emphasis," which means they will call those particular infractions more this year.

In Week 1, their point of emphasis was on holding penalties. Officials called 37 of them, compared to the Week 1 average of 20.6 from 2007-'09 (see chart)."

Oh, so maybe it was just week one. In fact, the two penalties that really cost the Bears, holding and roughing the passer, were both called more frequently this week than they were called on average last year, because both were points of emphasis all offseason long. Tough break, Rick. As for the dumb coaching decisions? Well, yeah. But Rick's argument is that they can't beat the Cowboys if they play like they did against the Lions, and I just don't see how, if dumb coaching decisions is the decider, Lovie's gaffe on 4th down somehow tops Wade Phillips decision to go for it with the 3 seconds left in the first half.

A question for Bears coach Lovie Smith: Now that the glorified practices are over, when do the real games start?

You're a member of the media, with access to an NFL head coach I would kill for, and you want to ask him for a copy of the schedule? I found one here, Rick.

It was Smith who referred to the final preseason game as a ''glorified practice,'' but on Sunday, the Bears looked like a team of strangers meeting for the first time.

Strangers who got together and racked up the most yards on offense of any team in the league, while giving up the second fewest.

That the Lions were even in a position to score in the final 87 seconds tells you all you need to know about this game. Poetic justice called for Hill's pass into the right corner of the end zone to result in a touchdown.

That's not even remotely true. That doesn't say "the Bears absolutely dominated the Lions in every category but failed to capitalize because of a bunch of stupid turnovers, and thus the Lions had a chance because that's how upsets happen, even though this one didn't." And poetic justice would actually call for the team that actually picked up more than 1 first down in the first 28 minutes of the second half to win the game.

But rule book justice, misguided as it is, yanked a victory away from the Lions and handed it to the Bears.

On a play that will be replayed hundreds of times this week, the Lions were at the Bears' 25-yard-line with 31 seconds left in the game. Hill dropped back and lofted a jump-ball pass. Johnson leaped over Bears cornerback Zack Bowman, made the catch, took two steps, fell and then lost control of the ball. Touchdown, right? Two feet down in the end zone, correct?

No. The rule states that a receiver has to maintain possession of the ball all the way to the ground. Even though Johnson landed on his butt while holding the ball, he lost the ball afterward. Incomplete pass.

Insanity.

Insanity! This madness has never happened before! Except when the cruel hand of poetic legal officiating justice or cruel Lady Fortune called back a game winning touchdown for the Bears against the Lions on the exact same call six years ago.

The problem isn't with the interpretation of the rule. The problem is with the rule itself, an officious, nit-picky decree that wiped out an amazingly athletic play. The letter of the law gets an ''F.''

He is Rick Morrissey. And he is the Law.

Everybody knows it, even Bears players.

They know it because it happened to them, too. I somehow doubt a smug Detroit sportswriter wrote about the injustice of the Bears losing that game in 2004, though.

''That's a crazy rule,'' safety Danieal Manning said.

An athlete understands what a great play is, and Bowman knew he had been beaten by an exceptional effort. But he wasn't complaining about the rule afterward.

''I thought it was a touchdown,'' he said. ''Then the one ref was like, 'Nah, it's not a touchdown. He dropped it.' And I was like, 'Sweet!' ''

And Rick was like, "Word, brah."

By the time Smith met with the media after the game, he was a law-and-order guy from way back. A rule's a rule, he said. And after that, he said what he always says: A victory is a victory.

Of all of Lovie's retarded Lovie-isms, that one's the one that's actually true.

''I think we won the game,'' said quarterback Jay Cutler, tiring of questions about the team's lackluster start.

No, he was probably just tired of taking questions from the guy who spent all of the 2009 offseason calling him an overrated crybaby and a disgrace after the Green Bay game before he shredded any semblance of journalistic integrity by calling Cutler "the next Tom Brady" after three good games. Wait, wasn't that you?

There might not be style points in the NFL, but there is carryover. If the Bears think they can play this way in Dallas next Sunday and against Green Bay in Week 3 and win, somebody needs to confiscate the team bong.

Jesus Christ. There's so much wrong with this it hurts. Rick acts like none of the Bears have said that they need to improve over their performance this week, and yet all of them have. Thanks for the f*%king revelation, Rick. And no, there is no carryover in the NFL. That's why teams sometimes lose the week after winning. That's why some teams can score 45 points one week and 13 the next. That's why it's the god damn NFL. There's nothing even resembling carryover, other than "hey, teams that are good will tend to be good from game to game, because they're good, while teams that are bad will be bad."

This article is somehow still going on, so I'm just going to skip to the end, but just know you're missing Rick saying that there "was some good stuff" like Cutler and the offense performing really well and the defense performing well except for when they were performing really badly, or something, and that none of it counts because they were like playing the Lions and stuff. Onto:

The final indictment of the Bears came in the last 87 seconds, when they allowed the Lions to march downfield, setting up Johnson's fateful play in the end zone.

Except it wasn't fateful at all, because they didn't score.

Stare at the rule book all you want, but it doesn't tell the story of the Bears' performance.

What about the stat book? What about the standings? Which book should I read, Rick? Anything but the ones that contradict your hare-brained narrative of an awful, awful Bears team?

It's been too long, Rick. You're just too much fun.