Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chicago Bears 2008 Season Preview / Preemptive Autopsy: Intro/Coaching Staff

I've been a fan of the Chicago Bears football franchise for roughly 23 years at this point, and I can honestly say that there has been no other season that has filled me with as much dread as the one to come. There is no hope. Not even a glimmer. No, "but what about so-and-so," no "but what if X happens," no nothing. The 2008 season is looking more and more like watching as an unmanned steamroller with a faulty parking brake slowly steams toward an unsuspecting newborn child, knowing that there's nothing you can do to save the baby, but also knowing that despite the gruesome horror, there's no way you can look away from what's about to happen.

Because if you don't watch the steamroller squash the kid, you're not a true fan.

And to think that less than two years ago, this team was within twelve points of a championship. Just twelve points separated me and the ability to find team merchandise somewhere other than the Internet for at least one year. But it didn't happen, and now things are the way they are. The champagne has gone back into storage, the pre-printed "Super Bowl XLI Champs" t-shirts have all been distributed to Sally Struthers's kids in Ethiopia, and the fair weather fan who was this close to buying an Brian Urlacher jersey is strutting around in the Tom Brady one he already had laying around. And now, the hope is gone, the dream is dead, the baby has been crushed into smithereens, and the hog has died in the tunnel. Welcome to 2008 Chicago Bears football.

But I figure if we're going to assign blame for the disaster to come, the first place to point the finger would be the guys without the pads. And god, I feel so sorry for Dave Toub. Even disregarding the fact that he's got a decent punter in Brad Maynard, a Pro Bowl kicker in Robbie Gould, the greatest kick returner of all time in Devin Hester, and possibly even the greatest long-snapper of all time in Patrick Mannelly, there is no denying that this man has turned the Chicago special teams unit into a total fucking force. It's like an entire squadron on mini Steve Taskers, blocking punts, forcing fumbles, and knocking the shit out of wide receivers who weren't good enough to get playing time on offense. And I feel for the guy, because man, I've been there before. You know, you work your ass off to get your job done, while your co-workers are all like one big albatross around your neck, trying as hard as they can to drag you down to their level, watching you work and work and work, while they sit down and complain about how much work there is to do. I can just imagine the disgust in his eyes as he looks at all those other slobs he has to deal with. I can only assume that when he's not scheming of ways to kill the guy who catches the ball, all he thinks of all day long is the cruel murder of his fellow coaches. Nothing at all but sweet, sweet murder.

For example, offensive coordinator Ron Turner, who is perhaps the lesser of the two Turners, which is absolutely insane to think about, seeing as how brother Norv is basically what would have happened if a schlep like Rich Kotite had lucked his way into a job coaching a team someone else had already made into a contender. He's re-dedicated the Bears to a hard-nosed, blue collar, run-first-then-throw-the-bomb style that completely forgets that he's got no quarterback, it's not 1946 anymore, and that even back then, "three yards and a cloud of dust" added up to fourth and one. He's a coach with a 300-page playbook that seems to consist of 297 blank pages underneath three pages of plays that don't work. A man who thinks it's a good idea to run 47-pound scatback Garrett Wolfe up the gut, while sending human sandbag Cedric Benson on long sweeps around the end. This is a guy whose big strategic change for 2008 is to run the plays in practice until the offense finally gets them right. Which means that they weren't doing this before. Ron Turner is fucking retarded.

Or how about general manager Jerry Angelo, who finally learned the error of his ways after years of building an offensive line with washed-up retreads, and instead tried the bold new strategy of just ignoring the line altogether, aside from drafting a pre-injured left tackle. You know, the guy who had four first-day draft picks last year, only two of whom are still with the team, and none of whom are currently starters. The guy who goes into convulsions if he's forced to go through an entire draft without using a fairly high-round pick to take someone from a school that's so small, it's got to have a direction in its name somewhere to tell you where it is. The guy who gave all that money to Darwin Fucking Walker. You know, that guy.

Then, there's head coach Lovie Smith, who was rewarded with a new contract after the 2006 season and immediately used his new-found job security to dump pretty much the entire coaching staff (you know, the guys that did a good enough job to make it to a Super Bowl) and start over with "his guys," a strategy that also entailed throwing a wad of cash at safety Adam Archuleta, who defended almost as well as an empty cardboard box with a mean face drawn on it would have. At least the box might have caused someone to trip once in a while.

And I'd like to say mean things about defensive coordinator Bob Babich, but after after Grossman-Turner Overdrive kept the defense on the field for 49 minutes a game, his strategy basically broke down to standing on the sideline with a horrified look on his face as another Bear defender got carted off the field every five to six plays. I just feel sorry for the guy.

Meanwhile, wide receivers coach Darryl Drake has done a fine job over the years of developing such superstars as Airese Currie, Mike Hass, and Marcus Monk, as well as revitalizing the career of Muhsin Muhammad. Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton brings disgrace and shame to the once-proud name of "Pep." There's some other guys, too, but aside from Brick Haley having a kick-ass name and Tim Spencer possibly having played for the Chargers at some point, I can't think of anything to say about them.

Stupid coaches. Stupid life.


I'll discuss the quivering mass of life-failure that is the Chicago offense tomorrow probably, but first, I'm going to strongly rethink that whole "not drinking" thing.

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