Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I think the shock of the Cardinals' horrific choke job against is just now starting to wear off. And to think that people were thinking that this could be a playoff team this year. That wasn't all that much of a stretch - they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball...but oh, that woeful offensive line. It may not be glamorous, but you have to have a good foundation on the O line before anything else in my opinion - it gives the team a chance on offense. Even if there's not a whole lot of talent at the skill positions, a good O line will give the QB a precious few more seconds to find a receiver, and obviously, sets up the run. I hate to bring this up, being the avowed Cowboy hater that I am, but the Cowboys' Super Bowl teams of the mid '90s had an offense to remember in large part because their offensive line was fabulous. Now, Dallas had Hall of Fame talent at the skill positions too, but a good offensive line can lift a team with average talent at the skill positions - witness the 2001 Baltimore Ravens. Good running back in Jamal Lewis, but only one real receving threat in Shannon Sharpe, and an average QB in Trent Dilfer. But they had a great offensive line, and that was huge in helping that team win the Super Bowl.

Something else that I think got obscured by the sheer shock of the Cardinals' collapse is the question of where this leaves the Bears among the NFL elite now. I think you still have to consider them among the top 3 teams in the league, and the best team in the NFC - no team has been as impressive overall than the Bears have been to this point. But the question is, do you look at this game as a red flag for the Bears, that they're a lot more vulnerable than we thought? Or does this prove that the team can win a tough, close game, rather than just winning in blowout fashion? And if so, do they deserve the romantic "team of destiny" tag?

I think the Bears clearly are taking a good, hard look at what went wrong in the first three quarters of the game to an inferior team. However, the team needs these tests through the season. The team that never gets tested during the season is hurt for it in the playoffs, when it's going to be unlikely you will be able to dominate your opponents. Just look at last year - the Colts flirted with an undefeated season, dominating everyone who came in their path. The Steelers barely made the playoffs, and were just 7-5 after 12 games. But come the playoffs, the Steelers beat the Colts, and I have no doubt that their ability to deal with adversity played a role in getting them that win and eventually, the Super Bowl.

So the Bears are vulnerable - and key among those question marks is the startlingly bad performance of QB Rex Grossman. while he deserves a lot of credit for his overall body of work this season, this game showed he should not be crowned the next John Elway after his horrendous 6 turnover disaster of a performance. That being said, there is no dominating team out there, and the Bears are more of a sure thing these days than most any other team in the NFL.

As far as the "team of destiny" tag that people are now eager to throw at the Bears after the win, I think that's a little tricky, and I won't be among the people who will do that. I thought the Colts were destiny's team last year, and obviously, I was proven wrong. It's a little too early in the season, in my opinion, and the picture of the NFL hierarchy too muddled, to make a determination on that.

And I would be remiss in talking about this game if I didn't mention Denny Green's spectacular press conference breakdown. Wow, that thing was of Bob Knight proportions. Here's the link:


And, speaking of coaches' meltdowns, I love this clip and had to include it:


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