Thursday, February 3, 2011
2010 Bears Post-Season Awards, Part 1: R.O.Y.
So, football is over now. I know, there's the small issue of a superlative Bowl to be settled, but for me, no more football. None last week, none this week, and perhaps none at all in the year to come. Now, there's nothing left but to think about what was, bitch abut what might have been, and pretend that what little news slips through the cracks in the months to come actually means that football is still going on for real. So for now, Richard Dent stands on the cusp of being denied Hall of Fame entrance once again, and Jerry Angelo hiring Tim Ruskell last year as an assistant/emergency scapegoat means that not only are the Bears still trying to build a winning team off of the Buccaneers' and Rams' glory years of nearly a decade ago, but now, they're apparently going to start adding bits and pieces of the late-2000s downhill slide of the Seahawks to the mix. Fun. But with things as they are, there will probably be lots of time to speak of such things in the future. For now, it is time to take a look back at the year that was. It's time for some dang awards.
First, we stop to remember one of the finest rookie seasons in Chicago History. In 1995, the Bears had one of the most potent offenses the team ever had, led by the passing attack of Erik Kramer, Jeff Graham, and some other guys not normally associated with the words "potent passing attack." Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Rashaan Salaam was rewriting the team's rookie running back record book, running for over 1,000 yards, scoring ten touchdowns, and finishing high in the running for NFL Rookie of the Year. And today, we remember him as one of the finest rookies in Bears history, and as not much beyond that, because 1995 was the only season where he ever really did anything. Today, he blames his failures (and many, many fumbles) on a crippling addiction to the Devil Weed, despite the fact that he was still pretty much doing his best Doug Benson impression for that season as well as his entire legendary college career. Perhaps the secret of this brief success lied in his bong. The world's most perfect bong, hand-crafted of the finest imported glass, and standing well over two feet tall, it was a bong worthy of Chong himself, and it served him well for many years, until it was tragically knocked off the coffee table by former Colorado teammate Michael Westbrook, following an argument over a heated game of Super Mario Kart. It was all downhill from there, as Salaam lost the effects of his legendary and perhaps magical bong, even after repeated Super-Gluings. And as his career failed, we soon remembered him only as the superstar rookie that he once was.
And now, the time has come to honor and remember the former World's Greatest Bong in the form of an internet blog award. So without further ado, the 2010 recipient of the Rashaan Salaam's Bong Memorial Rookie of the Year Award is none other than offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb.
As an unheralded seventh-round draft pick out of West Texas A&M, not much was expected out of Webb. And well, uhh, I gotta be honest, not much was delivered by him, either. Seriously, the offensive line - The Doom of 2010 - was the weakest link of the Bears, and while Webb wasn't the weakest link of that weakest link, he probably would have been if Frank Omiyale or the thirteen guys not named Garza that they tried at guard had never been born. But really, what was I to do? The Bears only had three rookies on the roster this year. Their highest-profile draft pick was Dan LeFevour, a quarterback who never should have been drafted and ended up being a Cincinnati Bengal anyway. Meanwhile of the other two guys to actually make the 53-man roster, Major Wright was hurt for most of the year and not good for much other than late-hit penalties for the rest of it, and even though he did cast down the Dark Lord once and for all, Corey Wootton saw the field even less than he did. If nothing else, J'Marcus Webb was out there for most of the year, starting week in and week out, trying to make up for the manifold failures of former first round pick Chris Williams that put him in that place.
And really, let's not forget the fact that he really was a guy who shouldn't have been out there. He's a raw-ass physical talent without the polish that a rookie from a major college program would have, and probably the only reasons he was even on the game day roster in the first place were because they figured they couldn't sneak him on to the practice squad and because GM Angelo had already used up his one phantom injury rookie red shirt Injured Reserve spot on running back Harvey Unga. So really, we never should have even seen Webb until 2011. But when the Williams experiment failed and something about having Kevin Shaffer in the starting lineup apparently scared the coaching staff shitless, he was thrown to the wolves. And yeah, he was awful. J'Marcus Webb's 2010 rookie campaign was one marked by countless sacks-allowed and holding penalties, (or maybe they've been counted but I don't feel like looking it up) but you can't forget that he got better with every week. Sure, he was still way below average even by the playoffs, but considering how much of a hole he started off in, it was still shockingly encouraging in the end.
As it stands right now, with a full year of starting experience and the knowledge that it really can't get any worse under his belt. Webb is a favorite to take over at the all-important left tackle position in 2011. And we could do worse. Hell, for the last few years, between Omiyale, John St. Clair, and the withered-up husks of Fred Miller and Orlando Pace, we really have done worse. But St. Clair was an out-of-position career backup, Omiyale was an inexplicably-employed career backup, Miller and Pace had both been playing since the Coolidge administration, and with 20/20 hindsight, Chris Williams was pretty much doomed from the start. So we've still got a potentially bad prospective LT starter, but for once, at least it's one with the arrow hopefully pointing up. So congratulations, J'Marcus Webb. You... Well, you sure were a rookie playing in 2010.
Theoretical past winners, had I bothered to do this in the past: RB Matt Forte (2008) and WR/KR Johnny Knox (2009)
Next Time: The 2010 Brian Piccolo Memorial Award for Excellence as a Gritty, Hard-Working Fan Favorite, as well as the 2010 Zombie Brian Piccolo Memorial Comeback Player of the Year Award.