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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Man, That Awesome Offseason Was Fun While It Lasted

I don't mean to steal Iggins! thunder when he's passionately writing articles about how the X-Men saved US gymnastics from racism or something, but this is a Bears blog and there's been some Bears news what needs addressin'.

There was a time early in this offseason when we were excited because, hell, the Bears had acquired a ton of talent and looked like they were under the guidance of a competent GM. The offense was supposed to be good! The defense was still good! Forte signed a goddamn contract! Lance Briggs has shut the hell up!

But no. Per usual, there's been some relatively unfortunate news and now everyone needs to freak the fuck out.

Why, you can't whitewash the ugly details of a 31-3 preseason loss. They looked bad in all four phases. This is totally true! Why, if the Bears go into a regular season game without Cutler, Forte, Urlacher, and Peppers, you can bet your ass I'll have something less than a sunny disposition.

Here's what you needed to take from that first preseason game:

-The OMG terrible long first drive where Peyton drove down the field and had all kinds of time in the pocket until he made a mistake to Major Wright:

Let's ignore for a second that that kind of drive is exactly the kind of thing the Bears do to beat good, patient QBs like Manning. The pass rush was off in their first drive of a preseason game without Peppers? I'm going to select a choice razor blade from my collection to cut myself with.

Maybe, just maybe, the Bears run the same damn vanilla offense and defense every offseason. I'm guessing Peyton Manning's more than capable of handling a four man rush and a bland, unchanging Cover 2 or Cover 3 scheme. I know he is, actually, because I watched him get a Super Bowl ring doing it.

 I don't get why NFL fans need a reminder every fucking year that the preseason means absolutely nothing. Since 2001, the Bears have gone 7-10 in the preseason in years in which they've made the playoffs. Those numbers mean nothing. NO

-The terrible offense: I don't think the Bears even attempted a pass past the first down marker. They obviously had other things they were concerned with, and I've never known Lovie to tip his hand on anything in the preseason.

-The terrible defense: The starting defense (if you can call it that, without Urlacher and Peppers and with the others in for a couple series at most) allowed all of three points. If you're going to stay up at night worried over the 28 points they put up against Thaddeus Gibson and Dom DeCicco, well, I can loan you my razor blade collection.

What I took from what little of that game I watched was that McClellin got some solid playing time and looked like a good speed rusher who is somewhat hopelessly lost against the run. That's about what I expected.

I also noticed (and the offseason has consisted of one long rave review) that Alshon Jeffery looks awesome. That alone should get help your flagging Bearrections revive. For those of us that can't remember the last time the Bears had one bonafide star receiver, the idea of two is incomprehensible.

Now for the other big bit of news coming out of Bears camp: yes, Brian Urlacher had knee surgery.

This is concerning, I agree. Anytime a player of his age has any kind of operation it's worth raising an eyebrow. That said, arthroscopic knee surgery is as routine in the NFL as unaddressed steroid use and heavy-handed, misplaced punishment from the commissioners office. We're looking at a worst case scenario in which he'd be back by week three.

I understand he's Brian Urlacher. He's the face of the defense and we're all still scarred from 2009, when the defense fell apart without him. The difference now is that Julius Peppers is there to provide a pass rush and help against the run. They're better off at DT with Henry Melton, Toeiana, Paea, and new addition Price than they were in 2009 with Anthony Adams and post-injury Tommie Harris as the starters. The corners are better, with Charles Tillman healthy and Tim Jennings (or Kelvin Hayden) better than Bowman.

None of this even addresses the improvements on offense they've made since then. I don't doubt for a second that the Bears will miss Urlacher if he's out for an extended time period, but the only reason you're freaking out over a routine, 4-6 week knee operation is because you don't trust the Bears and think they're a bunch of incompetent boobs because of years of frustration and "seeing it too many times." Urlacher will be fine, and so will the Bears.

I've seen nothing yet to break me of my confidence that the Bears are going to be a damn good football team this year, and, per my usual approach to the preseason, I'm not going to worry about a damn thing until the results matter.

Go Bears.

Race, Sports, and Why We All Need to Shut the Fuck Up

As a kid, my favorite comic book series was the X-Men. To be more clear, I didn't actually enjoy the comics much; paying $3 for something that was one tenth the size of a free catalog that came in the mail didn't even make sense to me as a seven year-old. But I watched the animated series and fell in love with the characters and concept. Here was a group of misfits who were potentially the least misfit of us all. They all struggled with being segregated in different ways; Wolverine was irritable, Gambit a ladies-man, Beast devoted himself to his studies. They all had their issues, some normal, others caused by their unfortunate ostracization.

To return to the intention of this article, I pose a question: if there was a point to the X-Men, as in a meaning meant for humanity, what would it be? Wouldn't it have to be, "If this were to happen now, after having seen the reactions humanity had to it in the comics, we would never do this to mutants in real life."?

Recently I watched a movie called "The Wave" which illustrates a similar idea. In the film (it's set in Germany) children in a classroom groan about having to discuss World War 2 again, complaining that it is old hat and that something like the Nazi's taking over could never happen again. In response, the teacher slowly creates an organization of students that resembles Nazis (the students fail to realize what is happening until... well, watch the movie. It's solid.).

The movie aside, the concept is disturbingly real. We, as a people, are still just as blindly ignorant as we were in the twenties, sixties, or 1700s; just in different ways.

Take, for instance, the depressing coverage of Gabby Douglas winning an all-around gold medal in gymnastics. Now calculate how much of the coverage of this event you saw that failed to say "First African-American" once. Your calculation rests at 0%. I know this because my work oftentimes leaves me bored and reading article after article on the same subject. This was one of them.

Why is this wrong? Because winning a gold medal is an incredible achievement for Gabby freaking Douglas. It is not an achievement for "African Americans"*