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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Chicago Sun-Times, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

You know when I said in last week's column that the hack writers would come out firing, I didn't realize that I was going to be handed a twofer by the Intrepid Ricks of the Sun-Times.

Not to be outdone by Telander's vague ramblings and misapplied talents, Morrissey stepped up to the plate to remind us all that you can never be sad if you just don't hope for anything. Don't let the title "MORRISEY: Bears look like an 8-8 team" fool you. This column is not about the Bears. This is about Rick Morrissey's inability to feel joy until at last an intrepid adventurer returns the Casket to its ancient home.

As is our custom, Rick will be in italics.

The 2012 Bears defense and the evolution of a flip-flopping columnist, in three parts:

At least you're opening the damn thing up by calling yourself a sham.

1. Players are intercepting passes and recovering fumbles early in the season, but I don’t believe what I’m seeing. The turnovers seem fleeting.

Seeing as you're paid to be pessimistic about the Bears, I feel like that shouldn't be terribly surprising.

2. Under a tidal wave of opponents’ errors, many forced by the Bears, I do believe — in a big way. The good times will last forever, the economy will turn around and bad breath will be wiped out for eternity!

Usually when you're exaggerating for the sake of making the inevitable regression look worse, you don't exaggerate so much that you sound like a pedantic, self-important dick. But I guess when you are a pedantic, self-important dick, you can't really help but sound like one.

3. When the turnovers go away in the second half of the season and the tumbleweeds move in, I’m disappointed in myself for having fallen for it.

I want to stress now that "turnovers going away" and "tumbleweeds move in" refer to a period during which the Bears only came up with two turnovers a game and scored twice against some of the most accurate quarterbacks of last season.


Sigh indeed, Rick. Sigh, indeed.

So this season? No way. Not getting duped. 

I don't really understand the attitude that the Bears were somehow tricking everyone by doing better in the first half of the season than the second. Like they were pretending to be a good football team, and somehow that actually made them perform like one, and then they just decided to stop. It assigns a level of malice, and also self-delusion, to their collapse that I assure you they do not have. They want to win football games much more than you want them to.

The Bears opened training camp Friday...

"And I've already decided who they're going to be for the season because I am a terrible journalist."

... and they again were talking about wanting to be a turnover-first monster. Good for them. I’m sticking to the truth — that the best defenses are built on speed, technique and tackling, with turnovers being a byproduct.

Really? I'm pretty sure no list of the best defenses of 2012 would've been complete without the Bears, no matter which way you look at it.

No more flip-flopping for me. No more acting like a trout trying to escape a hook.

Well that's just a flat-out lie.

What are we supposed to expect in 2013 after dealing with the split personality of the 2012 defense?

What split personality? You've criticized them for fucking years for refusing to give up on their system. They played the exact same way. They just didn't generate as many turnovers.

I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you.

You couldn't get too excited, Rick. You lost the ability to feel joy eons ago, when the selfsame curse that gave you everlasting life robbed you of its pleasures. Don't think we don't know what you are.

The defense is a year older this season than it was last season. And that defense already could have used a dye job.

"And now for hack Bears column plot point E3: mention the defense's age." As Brian Urlacher's repeated "last good seasons" can attest to, you might as well not bother saying a guy is finished until the evidence is on the table. Briggs, Tillman, Peppers, and company all had excellent seasons in 2012, and until I see them looking old on the field I'm not going to count them out.

‘‘Last year was a hell of a year, but we have to create a new identity once again,’’ cornerback Charles Tillman said. ‘‘Last year was last year. This year, we have to try and outdo last year. It’s hard, but it can be done.’’

You're intentionally misinterpreting what he said. The system isn't changing. The roles aren't changing. "New identity" means "we can't rest on our laurels." They were good last season, and they want to be better this season. That's what professional athletes do! Professional athletes who don't constantly try to get better, even when it doesn't work, end up like JaMarcus Russell. And I don't think even you could say anyone on this team deserves to be called JaMarcus Russell, Rick.

Many of the same players are back playing the same defense under a new coaching staff. Tillman, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs.

Apparently all of the Sun-Times columnists have forgotten that this is not the first coaching shift for the veterans. Both Ricks seem to believe that they're all just going to forgot how to run because somebody else is calling the plays. The same plays. 

‘‘It’s the same philosophy,’’ said Tillman, the undisputed champion of the world when it comes to punching footballs from opponents. ‘‘You don’t want to use last year’s success. You just want to have a career year every year. If you always talk about, ‘Aw, we had a chance in ’85, we’re the ’85 . . . ,’ you can’t live on that. You’ve got to create a new identity each year for your team.’’

Oh see, Charles himself cleared that one up. To you! Personally! And you still try to put words in his mouth.

Oh, you’d be surprised how long players can live off the year 1985.

"Columnists, too!"

I’m certainly not living off my wishy-washy failings of 2012. 

You mean everything you wrote in 2012?

In my defense, though, what was anyone who watched the Bears supposed to think? Week after week, the turnovers came. They came in ridiculous numbers and with ridiculous regularity. In the first eight games, the Bears forced a league-high 28 turnovers. Seven of those led to defensive touchdowns. Even the most hardened heart melted away.

And yet, somehow, you still criticize them for it.

But the defense was human after that. And because we see a human staring back in the mirror, who wants human? The turnovers shrunk to 16 in the second half, and there were only two defensive touchdowns. 

And they were still the best in the league at it. 

The Bears started 7-1 and finished 10-6.

And nobody who watched any of those games could say it was the defense's fault. Even the Seahawks game, which was almost entirely lost to a defensive failure, was Lovie's fault for calling Prevent and refusing to spy Russell Wilson. These guys played their hearts out, and they looked sharp as shit all year.

It wasn’t fluky that a Bears defense would force fumbles and pick off passes. It’s what former coach Lovie Smith preached, pantomimed and telepathically relayed to his players.

"I don't do things just to do 'em, I wouldn't grind my feet into his couch just for something to do. Yea I remember grinding my feet into his couch!" You literally opened this column up by saying turnovers are flukes and no good defense should strive for them, you absolute moron.

The fluky part was how many turnovers there were early. The silly part was thinking it would last.

And that is not the Bears' fault. Should they have avoided getting turnovers early in the season so as not to confuse poor Morrissey? Christ, it's like you'd rather they just be bad all along than do well and then poorly, just so you don't have to think too hard.

Many of those turnovers came against teams that would finish the season at .500 or below. 

You might be surprised to know that half of the teams in the league finish at .500 or below. Somebody has to lose every single game, that's just the way the game works. Math!

Good teams started showing up on the schedule in the second half, and the fumble recoveries and interceptions went away.

Oh joy, this again. This is the same fucking machine that tells us Detroit is "dangerous" and you can "never count out the Panthers." Apparently losing to them is a mark of eternal shame, but beating them and taking the football away 28 times means nothing at all.

Oh, and the offense stunk. It’s probably unfair to be poking at the defense after what Jay Cutler & Co. wrought last season...

"But I'm going to anyway."

... but it’s going to be up to the defense to make something of this season.

Wait, why? I mean I think it's fair to say that this team will lean on a talented defense because of fucking course you should do exactly that if you have one. That doesn't mean the offense can't contribute. This is not exactly complex stuff, Rick.

‘‘We’ve got a lot of core players back, a lot of starters back,’’ defensive tackle Henry Melton said. ‘‘Of course, we lost a big leader in there, but Briggs is going to step up and lead the way.’’

Melton was talking about linebacker Brian Urlacher’s absence, but the Bears aren’t going to miss him on the field. Maybe in other ways, but not in the important ways of running and tackling. If you saw him chasing ball carriers last season, you know that to be true.

So that's... an improvement, right? Aren't you sort of contradicting your... ah, fuck it.

Many people thought the offense finally would do something special in 2012. I wrote before the season that the offense would drive the Bears. All the offense did was drive fans to drink.

"I was wrong, and it's the Bears' defense's fault for some reason!" Seriously, they do not have a responsibility to justify your columns, Rick. If you want to be upset that a team you like didn't win, fine. There's room for everybody in this club. But the reason I am upset that they lost is not because it made me look bad for thinking they wouldn't.

With a new coach, Marc Trestman, and a new offensive attack, the Bears figure to struggle for a while when they have the ball. 

Why? It's totally fair to say they could struggle, or even that they probably will struggle. But saying it like it's all but guaranteed at this point seems a little uncharitable. Remember. Training camp started on Friday. This column was posted at 1:44 a.m. on Saturday. Less than twenty-four hours had passed between the first official practice of the season and Morrissey's decision to write off the whole year.

I see 8-8. 

You see one Goddamn practice, you insufferable twat. You didn't write one damn word about this year's team in your column about this year's team. 

You should, too. 

No. I'm not going to crown them champions or anything, but I believe it's justified to suspect that they'll be better this year, or at least as good as they were last year.

You’ll be happier and less hung over.

"If you don't ever feel hopeful, you can never be let down!" - Rick Morrissey, official spokesman for Valium abuse.

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