No matter how bad it looks, Bears aren’t hopeless
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There are times when it seems particularly difficult to be a sports fan, and if you live in Chicago, no one feels your pain like Bill Swerski.
Never mind that Swerski is the mythical creation of a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit. The man represents a cult of Windy City superfans who, by all measures, are having one of their worst weeks in recent memory. First Michael Jordan gave a decidedly undignified Hall of Fame induction speech better suited for a therapist’s office – or his bathroom mirror. Then, a certain team known as Da Bears traveled to Lambeau Field for a season-opening showdown with the rival Packers on Sunday night, and the nightmare intensified: In his first game with the team, presumed franchise savior Jay Cutler had the worst game of his life, throwing four interceptions in a 21-15 defeat.
Now comes the news that the Bears’ other star, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, is out for the season with a dislocated wrist. As with Tom Brady last season, Jerry Rice in 1997, Rod Woodson in ’95 and Randall Cunningham in ’91, Urlacher’s injury, suffered in the first quarter, is one of those opening-week buzzkills that will live in infamy.
However, the Bears’ situation isn’t hopeless. Cutler rallied the team in the second half before throwing his final interception with 58 seconds remaining, and even without Urlacher the defense looked reenergized with coach Lovie Smith calling the signals. Chicago still has a fabulous and physical linebacker on the outside (Lance Briggs), and enough good players on both sides of the ball to remain competitive.
In the meantime, the Packers sit in the upper echelon of our initial top-to-bottom ranking of NFL teams, while Da Bears are barely in the top half. And guess who’s coming to Solider Field next Sunday? The defending Super Bowl champs – and the team with which we’ll begin our can’t-miss list of piercing queries.
It’s enough to give Bill Swerski a heart attack. Or maybe that’s just the bratwurst.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: How sick was Troy Polamalu’s airborne, left-handed interception against the Titans – and how nauseous will Steelers fans get watching the defense play without him for the next three-to-six weeks?
5. Green Bay Packers: Hey, all you remaining Aaron Rodgers bashers in Cheesehead Nation – starting to feel a little lonelier?
7. New England Patriots: Should we be awed by their unrelenting grit, or concerned that they needed a Bills meltdown to prevail over Buffalo at home Monday night?
11. New Orleans Saints: When a veteran player sends a text the day after the opener to inform me that “25 guys in our locker room want to kick Kanye West’s ass” in the wake of his MTV Video Music Awards outburst, is that a sign that the Lions didn’t leave much of a lingering impression? (And, more important, should the rapper be worried?)
13. San Diego Chargers: Based on the conclusion of Monday night’s victory over the Raiders, is there any doubt that Norv Turner considers Darren Sproles(notes) his top halfback (instead of a perpetually injured LT)?
14. San Francisco 49ers: Is Mike Singletary going to bore us all the way to the postseason – and how appreciative will Niners fans be if that happens?
15. Arizona Cardinals: Are they waiting to flip the switch, and if so, do they realize they’re in danger of being electrocuted?
20. Miami Dolphins: Isn’t it time for Ted Ginn Jr.(notes) to become the game-changer that the prior regime projected him to be – and, more important, what better time for me to dredge up my favorite draft day clip?
21. Seattle Seahawks: After working with Michael Vick(notes) in Atlanta and JaMarcus Russell(notes) in Oakland, how psyched is offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp to be coaching a mature, ultra-professional quarterback like Matt Hasselbeck(notes)?
26. Cincinnati Bengals: As Brandon Stokley(notes) was racing down the sideline with that miracle touchdown catch, what are the odds that the first two words out of Chad Ochocinco’s(notes) mouth were, “Child, please!”
28. Houston Texans: What is it about this team that makes me wonder whether its players believe the preseason lasts until mid-October?
30. Cleveland Browns: If Randy Lerner were to fire Eric Mangini before the end of the season, how hilarious would it be if the owner kept it a secret until game time?