I woke up this morning in a damn good mood. You know why? Because Bears training camp starts this week, with players beginning to arrive today. Now, I'm not crazy about reading the news articles related to camp (ZOMG. DOES JAY CUTLER HAVE A LOT TO PROVE THIS YEAR? NO WAY and OH MAN IT IS SO WEIRD WITHOUT URLACHER HERE INNIT), but I am glad that football is starting. From the moment that first practice snap occurs football once more ascends to the top of the ladder of our national interest, we can all keep pretending baseball doesn't exist, and we can begin our breathless countdown to a preseason game that we'll stop watching after the starters leave by the third series. Most importantly, we can overreact to all of these things listed above. It's a great time to be alive.
Bears camp has been a pretty hot topic most of the last few years, with the arrival of Cutler in 2009, the signing of Julius Peppers in 2010, and the Marshall/Jeffery acquisitions of 2012 providing yearly buzz along with the seventeen or eighteen different offensive coordinators used in that time period. This year, however, takes the cake, with the following overplayed storylines sure to dominate:
1) Jay Cutler. Frankly, based on the way this offseason has gone with regards to Cutler columns, I hope Jay has changed his license plate to "NO XCUZ'S", because that's the unofficial motto of his 2013 campaign. Never mind that we've yet to see if any of the additions to the offensive line can play, or if his wide receivers can actually stay healthy for once, or whether Marc Trestman still knows how to call an NFL offense. The additions of Martellus Bennet and Jermon Bushrod mean that Jay's now guiding an offense equivalent to the 1999 Rams and anything shy of that vague and nebulous concept of an elite season he's been haunted by will result in him being run out of town on a rail.
This is bullshit, of course. Jay Cutler has to be better than every other quarterback on the market next year. Unless you're really fond of the Ryan Fitzpatrick's of the world or you're foolish enough to think Emery and Trestman are willing to sacrifice good chunks of the prime years of Marshall, Forte, etc. to build around a rookie QB next year, that's not going to be hard for Jay to do. It's likely all Jay has to do to get an extension is survive 16 games without a major injury. What he hopes to determine with his play this year is how much money that extension will pay him.
2) Urlacher. Leadership. Identity. Lost. Scared (Related: How does Jon Bostic/DJ Williams/James Anderson feel stepping into Urlacher's shoes, besides the uncomfortable burning on their feet?). Some combination of those words will be used in a number of stories about how odd it is for the team to get together without Urlacher. Most of these are just recycled articles from 2011 because it's easy to use a find and replace to switch "Olin Kreutz" for Brian Urlacher. In the end, the transition will be as relatively easy as that one was because players are not that stupid, and they tend to accept the guy who can play football over the guy who no longer could.
3)Meet the New Boss, He's Weird as Shit and has a Bad Combover. Marc Trestman's a weird dude. I tried reading his book. In the intro his ghostwriter says "Marc and I realized we basically had content for two books, one about strategy and X's and O's, and one about bullshit coaching cliches and maybe a mention or two of God" (I may have loosely paraphrased there). Much to my chagrin, the book was a collection of weird, empty coaching patois instead of the insight into his offense I was hoping for. Long story short, Trestman is odd. He just escaped from Canada, for fuck's sake. That'll change a man. He's going to do things differently than Lovie, and many things, positive and negative, will be said about this. We have no idea of measuring whether his weirdness means anything until the games matter, however, so just ignore Dan Bernstein on this one.
4) Kyle Long Did (X) Today. This one's actually kind of interesting. It'll be worth noting whether Long looks absolutely lost or not given his concerning lack of experience in college. That said, Gabe Carimi was the star of two consecutive training camps so take all of this with a grain of salt.
5) Contract Extensions. Jay. Tillman. Melton. Jennings. These guys are on the last years of their deal. It stands to reason that Emery, the general manager, is aware of this fact. He will still get asked 75 questions a day about it like he's fucking blind, and someone (probably Telander) seems to think they will eventually get Phil to say "Holy shit, dude. Not sure how I missed that. I'll get right on it." Never mind that there are roughly 80 ways that NFL contracts are skewed in favor of teams retaining players, and that the absolutely earliest that any of these situations would actually be problematic is next fucking March, this will be treated as some kind of massive dark cloud hanging over everyone.
6) Josh Lenz. I don't know whether this guy will be overrated or not. But he's fast, scrappy, white, and went to Iowa State, so...well, yes. He's going to be overrated. Ignore anything you hear about him.
That said, enjoy this day. Bear football is now a light at the end of this miserable offseason tunnel. We're getting close. Go Bears.