Support my attention-whoring ways by following us on twitter!

Get the SKOdcast imported directly into your brain!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Further Adventures of Ace Reporter Rick Telander: At This Point, It's Almost Impressive

As the sun rises on a world that is once again warmed by the presence of football, so too do we who talk about the Bears rise from our ancient slumbers. Rejuvenated by the healing rays of training camp, we seek out fresh news. Even throughout the offseason, I'll admit that I checked the big sites almost daily in the hope of fresh news. Seeing as you're reading this, I assume that you too care about Bears news.

And so we turn to the reporters. Those who can swing by training camp every day. Those with access to players and coaches. And they come out of their caves firing; making wild conjectures about the most simple training camp occurrences and laying down bold predictions for the entire season based on an errant pass or stiff exchange between players.

This year is no exception. In fact, furious over the death of his beloved Pro Football Weekly, our ancient nemesis Hub Arkush launched his very own website more or less dedicated to overreacting to Bears news. And I fully intended to bring you a fresh offering from him today.

But as is his wont, Rick Telander just will not go down without a fight. Where there is baseless conjecture to be made, they say he will never fail to appear. In our direst need for totally irrelevant and almost certainly inaccurate coverage, he comes forth into the light. And so, Hub must wait. For Telander has spoken.

As has ever been our way, Telander's parts will be in italics.

There’s no doubt it’s a new day in Bearsville.

This happens every morning, Rick. You cannot possibly still be surprised by this.

The question is: Is it a better day?

Well there is football. So, yes. It is a better day. But I know you're gonna pay this off with some very witty repartee, so let's just get down to it.

Quarterback Jay Cutler hinted at the potential turbulence of change when he reported to training camp Wednesday in Bourbonnais and said of new coach Marc Trestman’s philosophy and regime, ‘Guys are buying in.’’

Actually that's pretty much the opposite of "hinting at the potential turbulence of change." If anything, that's a super-positive statement.

Simple enough.

But then he said this: ‘‘Not everybody’s bought in, but that’s OK. We still have a lot of time. Hopefully by the time the first game rolls around, we’ve got everyone on the same page.’’

My God, it's like Revelations in here! The Earth cracks around his feet, and the Old Ones come through to devour us all.

That would be soon.

Cosmically speaking, sure. But training camp started yesterday, and the first game is more than seven weeks away. Give it more than a couple of hours maybe.

And that would be Page 1 of the book "A Rookie Coach’s Journey Into the Night."

What would be? I'm going to assume you mean "all the players not buying in." And that's a fair statement. However, you could do that with literally any scenario. Marc Trestman could sacrifice Jay Cutler to Shub-Niggurath to gain the power of the Black Goat, which is actually the first chapter of my Trestman fan-fiction "The Allouette Cometh." That does not make it any more likely to happen.

It would come swiftly after the burning of all remaining copies of the taboo tome "The Lovie Smith Story: My Players Loved Me, Even If Bears Fans Thought I Was Embalmed"

Yes, Lovie was a player's coach. And yes he was fairly tight-lipped when it came to the media. And neither of those things was what got him fired.

Also, what the fuck does that sentence mean?

You see, Trestman, who has never been an NFL head coach, is treading in foreign, even treacherous, waters as he replaces the quiet, secretive Smith, who was, without doubt, a ‘‘players’ coach.’’

People in the Chicago media just cannot pass up an opportunity to remind you that Trestman has never been an NFL head coach. Which is true, but not really applicable here. Inexperience will not change the fact that Trestman's presence means things are changing.

However, I think the grown-ass professional athletes we're talking about here deserve a little bit of credit. They are contractually obligated to play football, and to take orders from Marc Trestman. They're some of the toughest men on the planet. They're not going to run shaking into the locker room because Mean Ol' Marc isn't as nice as Papa Lovie.

That is, he never publicly made players fall guys for team failures (even when deserved)...

I don't think you understand the meaning of the term "fall guy." Or "team failure," for that matter. A fall guy is a blameless entity who takes the heat so the real culprit doesn't have to. And a team failure is everyone's fault, which means no one person "deserves" to be publicly blamed for it. So, y'know, literally no part of that statement made sense in this context.

... he always kept players’ issues and complaints away from the media and he defended players even when they had done some of the dumbest, most childish things ever — such as scream derisively at writers at the end of media sessions or get in fights with each other at FBI firing ranges.

And he was wrong to do that. Olin Kreutz stuck around this franchise for years longer than he should have because Lovie "liked his guys." I'm kind of confused as to where this column is going. You're pretty much making Trestman sound great and Lovie incompetent. Which I know you're not doing on purpose.

Indeed, for Lovie, a miscreant player was the equivalent of a wayward son who just needed to be sent to his room for a while and hugged.

That's going a little far. Lovie didn't make a spectacle of team discipline, that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Unfortunately, you seem to have the object permanence of an infant; so anything you didn't see happen might as well not have.

And so there are holdover Lovie Lovers on this team. There are many veterans who seemed genuinely upset when Smith was let go last winter after posting a 10-6 record.

Man, those guys who worked with a man for most of a decade were upset to see him go after a good, but not good enough, season? Clearly, we are living in the End Times.

One of the most vocal of Smith’s supporters then was middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Of course, he’s gone, having shown more than a spoon’s worth of delusion for not accepting a one-year, $2 million contract from general manager Phil Emery, who probably didn’t want Urlacher back at any price.

It should be noted that, despite his seemingly dismissive attitude here and bold proclamation that the team should cut him before last season even started, Rick Telander apparently misses the shit out of Brian Urlacher. Like... it's not healthy how much he's thinking about this. He has written at least three columns about Brian this offseason, including one just last week.

But Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman certainly is back, as are Lance Briggs, Devin Hester, Julius Peppers, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and others.

And this is shocking if paste has eaten through your frontal lobe.

It was just last winter that Tillman said, ‘‘I don’t want to play for another coach. . . . Great guy, great leader.’’

Now I don't want to suggest that Tillman didn't like Lovie Smith, or even love him. Certainly Charles flourished under Lovie's leadership, and the two never seemed to have any problems. But who gives a damn what a player said in a controlled interview shortly after the axe fell? Of course he said that!

Tillman went on, saying that if the Bears brought in a new coach, ‘‘They got to rebuild the team. Naw, you don’t want to do that.’’

Unless there are some very serious moves happening under wraps, I wouldn't exactly call this a rebuilding phase. The core players are the same, we're just changing the way they work together.

You don’t, do you. 

You do understand that you don't need to fill space while you think in print, right?

But it’s happening now, and it’s happening with a coach who is intense, cerebral and about as lovable as a grad-school quantum physics professor. 

Presumably, people who took grad school quantum physics didn't have a problem with the people who teach it. Are you really trying to suggest that a man being smart and good at his job means nobody can like him?

Trestman is, in many ways, the anti-Lovie. Thus does the coaching pendulum always seem to swing. Soft guy, hard guy. Quiet guy, loud guy. Warm guy, cold guy. Feel guy, book guy.

You know why that is, Rick? You don't exactly need a quantum physics post-grad degree to figure it out. They lost a lot of important games with the "feel guy." So yea, the pendulum seems to swing that way because you only get a new coach when the old way isn't working.

Different is all that matters in these coaching carousels. 

No, it isn't. It's an important part of the decision, because if they wanted a guy who was just like Lovie they would've kept Lovie. They wanted a guy who was different, and also good at the job. They interviewed like... 500 guys for this spot. I really doubt they settled on Trestman because he had the most things listed in the "not Lovie Smith" column.

It’s why wild man Billy Martin came back about 50 times as a manager of the Yankees. It’s why "collegiate" types always seem to follow "professional" types.

Again, this is pretty simple stuff. If your team doesn't win with a guy who does [x], you go to a guy who does [y]. Or [z]. What you don't do is get the exact same type of guy so as not to confuse the poor reporters who follow you.

And Trestman, who’s so skinny, wired and fit that he even runs along with tailbacks on practice carries, is collegiate to the hilt, in that he seems to micromanage the game down to the nub. 

Are... are you insulting him for being fit? I guess there's merit in saying he micromanages, but isn't that exactly what they brought him in to do? This team needs a tight, coordinated offense with clearly defined roles. Letting the guys do their thing did not work

Some coaches let pros do their own thing. That’s a players’ coach. Trestman is not that.

Oh is that what you were trying to say?

Defensive end Corey Wootton said he thought, for the most part, veteran players are getting used to Trestman’s style.

Is there a reason you didn't just ask a veteran player if he was getting used to Trestman's style?

‘‘It’s just new,’’ he said, ‘‘and I think it’s different from what we had with Lovie. When you see the practices, it’s just up-tempo, real quick, fast-paced.” 

Other players have said it’s like a trip back to their college days of yore. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

You're right. So what are we even talking about here?

But if your team loses while doing it, you can get edgy and cranky real fast.

... is that not true of literally every possible scenario? He could be passing out X in the locker room and buying hookers for the showers, I'm willing to bet players would still get edgy and cranky real fast if they weren't winning. These guys are not just athletic, they are almost pathologically competitive. 

It’s hard to say what coaches are supposed to be these days. 

Good at their jobs. That's the end of it. If a players' coach wins games, he'll stay. If a micromanager wins games, he'll stay. Not much more to it.

Elite Patriots coach Bill Belichick had blabbered on about the way the Pats so carefully checked their recruits for character flaws, how — as owner Robert Kraft said — the Patriots were one ‘‘big family."

Oh here it comes.

And then Aaron Hernandez is welcomed into the house. Hey, if a dude can catch, throw or run with the ball or splatter an opponent and change a game, he’s gonna play in the NFL.

Alright. Enough of this. Though I have dutifully and publicly apologized for my own hasty defense of Hernandez, at least until due process was carried out, come the fuck on. Aaron Hernandez was an asshole, sure. A lot of professional athletes are. 

"He got a DUI in college! Character issues!" No. That does not serve as a precursor to murdering lots and lots of people. Maybe he was not as wholesome as Kraft would have you believe his players are, but that does not mean they should've suspected he was going to go all Patrick Bateman on a bunch of dudes.

College, too.

That’s why godlike Ohio State coach Urban Meyer shrugged Wednesday and said at a news conference, ‘‘Obviously there are some things that maybe we erred on.’’

"A guy we trusted turned out to be a murderer, and he got away with it for like six years." Clearly, they knew all along.

Not only have 41 of Meyer’s players on his 2008 national-championship Florida team been arrested during or after college, he also has had to suspend some OSU players recently. 

I don't want to sound like a whiny nerd complaining about the mean jocks, but indulge me for a moment. College athletes, indeed athletes in general, have a habit of being douchebags. And douchebags get arrested. But if you break it down to the actual crimes, I suspect you'll find a lot of drinking tickets, pot possessions, bar fights, and sundry other crimes that hardly merit demonization at the hands of a paste-drunk lunatic.

In not so many words, getting arrested does not mean you're a murderer.

Plus, he coached the jackpot itself, the imprisoned Hernandez.

What are we even talking about?

The Bears don’t have those problems, thank God.

Oh... uh... good, I guess? I'm not really sure how we got here, but yes. I, too, am relieved that no Bears players were picked up in conjunction with multiple murder investigations.

Just getting on the same page is enough for them.

Really? Adjusting to a new coach is comparable to one of your teammates and key weapons being arrested and investigated in the deaths of four people? You don't think you might be overreacting a little bit? Oh, you're asleep now. 

Join us next week, or maybe this weekend, when we go to Hub Arkush's Eternal Fountain of Stupid.


Jeremy said...

I'm gonna be so disappointed if "The Allouette Cometh" isn't a real thing

Lee said...

There’s no doubt it’s a new day in Bearsville.

I quit.

Erik said...

If the Bears go over .500 this season, I will write "The Alouette Cometh."