Bears In Texas

Homage To Ditka

At age 72, it still appears that Mike Ditka’s face is composed of the hardest elements within the Earth’s mantle. He has a lasting aura of grit that makes you think he may also be a perpetual teeth grinder. 

It was the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness football, and there were Bears in Texas. Bears that reminded you of 1985. Earning an edge by playing with that same Ditka-style grit that seems to be welded into every corner of their franchise. And doing so with a quarterback nearly as crazy as Jim McMahon

The Over-analysis Of Romo And Cutler

Two decidedly inconsistent quarterbacks from two teams with decidedly different fan bases met in Arlington last night.

Both Romo and Cutler deal with their fair share of fan bullshit weekly. Cutler shows more of it on his sleeve, Romo just turns his hat backwards and shrugs it away. But then last night happened. Cutler became a methodical machine. Completing 75% of his passes against a Rob Ryan devised scheme, Texas Stadium might as well have been promoting “Brandon Marshall Dividend Night,” because he showed a glimpse of the return the Bears could be getting, the difference Marshall is making.

Ostensibly, 5 INT’s does not look good for Camp Romo. It’s just this kind of night that will make Romo’s stat sheet not look so premiere. It wont account for the fact that Dez Bryant still makes elementary mistakes in route running, or that he dropped three balls put on-target while Romo was escaping the Bears pass rush. Romo did miss a few key throws to marginally open receivers, but he did hit them in the hands on several occasions, and in those occasions, didn’t get any help. He threw two more interceptions during desperation/garbage time, and although meaningless at the time, it does shape the perspective of fans that only understand the most superficial aspects of the game.

A rational fan understands that both Romo and Cutler are very talented, and that nights like this are possible from either one of these guys as a byproduct of a highly competitive league. But Cutler, and possibly the rest of the Bears appear to have that “we get no respect” vibe, and look like they’re not satisfied until more people start to believe it. Romo had a rough outing, but the Bears Defense deserves a lot of credit. It’s tough not to win when your defense scores nearly as many points (14) as it surrenders (18).

The Ryan Plan

A haircut and a lap band were the only two remarkable differences between Rob and Rex Ryan. And now, they both understand that you can’t constantly leave your DB’s on an island against Jay Cutler’s receivers. It’s not so much that Dallas is not a top-tier team, it’s more that the Bears have an outstandingly balanced attack. Rob Ryan had to take an approach, and he chose to load up the box to stop Forte and Bush, and get pressure on Cutler. And for the most part, the scheme worked. Take away a well thrown ball from Cutler to Hester, and then take away any or both of the pick-sixes, and the box score looks much less weighted toward the road team. That very play to Hester was nearly a sack or a fumble, as Cutler just got the ball off in time. Being able to derive arm strength from just about any circumstance, and delivering 45 yard passes while backpedaling is a Cutler attribute that lies somewhere between measurable and intangible. 

That toss to Hester rolled out the coffin, the 74 yard interception return by Briggs just 5 minutes later hammered in the first nail. By the midpoint of the 4th quarter, this game was practically over. But it was still tough to change the channel, especially after what happened last Monday night.

Many of us forgot that there were some great wildcard and division races going on simultaneously. The White Sox were trying to salvage something they already threw away, and the Orioles were trying to hold off the Yankees in New York while holding off the Rays in Tampa.

This Is The NFL

But this is the NFL, and regardless if they fairly compensate certain employees, they still deliver the best product on television. National Television broadcasts by Tirico and Gruden help a bit. Although it appears that Gruden is on some mixture of glass cleaner and aggressive stimulant, there is one thing that should be noted about this tandem:  the fact that they don’t interrupt one another when the other is speaking. A quality that is becoming increasingly rare in a world where so many talking heads have so much to say. It truly goes a long way in watching a broadcast. Having an HD television set and a proliferation of sports bars across the country helps as well.

Whether it's the presentation or the product, it seems that we are hooked to NFL football. Or at least football in general. Watching the last two minutes of a blowout on Monday Night is still worthwhile. It’s as if we understand that we can live without football only marginally until it reappears on Thursday, so we watch every winding second with appreciation knowing that perceived desolation begins soon thereafter.

This was a game of takeaways, and what should be taken away is how the NFL is so intensely competitive in the early weeks of the season. What the MLB takes 6 months to develop, the NFL achieves right from the beginning. And like any smart, thriving business, they capitalize.