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Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a million times and I must be a Bears fan.
What we witnessed on Sunday was every bit the Same Old Jay as last week, when he seemed to have finally been abandoned even by the Cutler dead-enders.
If Jay was a Seinfeld episode, he'd be this one:
Similarly, Brandon Marshall is who he is - a drama queen. Just when it seems he's put his sketchy past behind him and become an upstanding citizen, he'll commit a selfish act or two under the guise of being a leader, be it playing hurt when he shouldn't or claiming he's only in it for the platform.
Mel Tucker is who he is, which is Jay Cutler. Good Mel showed up on Sunday - Awesome Mel, really - but Bad Mel is still around, too.
Who is Reggie Herring? He's the Bears' linebackers coach, which most of us didn't know until Sunday. Now we know. We hope this is who he is.
Now we know who Darryl Sharpton is, too, and we hope to get to know him better.
Jared Allen, it turns out, is still who he is - when he has a returning-from-injury Jeremiah Ratliff next to him.
Chris Conte, sadly, is who he is.
Kyle Fuller, happily, is too.
And this team is who they are - a .500-ish team vying to be King of the Tomato Cans; a B+ bunch that, just like Lovie's teams, is solidly in the 6-10 to 10-6 range.
I had them pegged at 10-6 in the preseason, but when the defense didn't blossom the way I hoped it would, I downgraded my prediction to 9-7. Last week I thought they looked more like 8-8.
And if we've learned our lesson, that's still about right.
The Kool-Aid's Half-Full
The offense has been as much a mystery - even more - as the defense this season. Maybe it wasn't clicking because Marshall's ankle injury was holding them back. Maybe Jay didn't like Brian de la Puente's butt. Maybe once Jermon Bushrod returns from his owie, this squad can finally put 30 points on the board. The arrow is pointing up.
Meanwhile, the defense that was so lacking in depth a week ago is suddenly drowning in it. The thing about getting pressure from the defensive line is that it makes the secondary's job so much easier; Matt Flynn should've had a much better day against the Bears' back four.
As for the linebackers, we can only say: WTF?
Either the second- (and third-) string is better than the first, or the first-string would've been even more dominant thanks to the refreshed defensive line.
Briggs, Bostic, Williams, consider it severance pay! Hit the road.
The Kool-Aid Is Half-Empty
The Bears - and Jay in particular - seem to play better on the road. They are still 0-2 at home this season. Now they come home to face Miami, and that should make everyone nervous. They will be the favorites, but the Bears have always done the opposite this year. They are Bizarro Bears.
Also, a false start on the first play of the game Sunday after a week of working on eliminating pre-snap mistakes isn't a good sign.
Also, add a blocked extra point to the very special season the Bears' special teams are having.
Also, the Falcons are reeling, having now lost three in a row after winning their first three. On the other hand, the Dolphins were three seconds away from beating the Packers on Sunday. It's a trap game!
Sometimes - most of the time - we lose perspective. For example:
Jordan Mills in a very nice kid, just not a very good football player.— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) October 12, 2014
Actually, Jordan Mills is one of the best football players on the planet. Only 1,696 humans make NFL rosters every season.
Maybe Mills is near the bottom of that bunch, but let's rephrase it that way. Fans start to forget just how talented and elite these athletes are.
* I briefly listened to the WBBM radio call from Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer. It wasn't that much different than listening to Hawk Harrelson; the refs are always out to get the home team. It wasn't long into the first quarter when I thought I heard Thayer starting to weep. I actually turned to the Falcons radio call instead and you know what? They gave an honest account of the game, which is what any fan who isn't a meathead wants.
* Last week David "Caveman" Kaplan tweeted that Matt Forte's early success showed how important it was to establish the run. Last week the Bears lost. This week Forte ran 17 times for 80 yards while catching 10 passes for 77 yards. The Bears rushed 28 times overall, though that's a bit misleading - five "rushes" were by Cutler and two were by Jeffery. This team, like most successful NFL teams these days, has to establish the pass to win. Establishing the pass is what sets up the run and makes Forte so devastating.
* "Tucker used pressure schemes early to speed up the decision-making of Matt Ryan behind a patchwork line, but the best play he ran was the Opponent's Dropped Pass, which was successful at least seven times in helping stall drives," Dan Bernstein writes in a column that strikes the right, even-keeled tone.
"To be fair, the Bears' defensive backs were closing fast to deliver the kind of hard hits that interfere with receivers' concentration. Ryan Mundy clobbered Roddy White, Chris Conte brought his weekly big shot to knock himself out of the game, and all three linebackers starting in place of the regulars looked speedy enough, if occasionally overrunning plays."
The View From Atlanta
"The offense, considered the strength of the Falcons' team, has scored just three touchdowns over their last nine quarters," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. "They continued to misfire on third downs and had seven dropped passes that killed drives. Wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones had two drops each. Tight end Levine Toilolo had three dropped passes."
"On the Bears three-play 80 yard drive in the second half:
"'That was probably the turning point in the game. Absolutely the turning point in the game. You can't fight back from a 10 point deficit coming out at halftime, starting fast and end up giving up the big touchdown that quickly in the second half. We've got be better across the board as a football team.'"
Playing in Atlanta was actually a perfect formula for the Bears: A road game that felt like a home game - attended by only the most faithful fans.
Even on the radio, it sounded like a home game to me. Who knew?
"No, I wasn't surprised [to see so many Bears fans in the stands]," Marshall told reporters after the game. "I thought that was amazing, and that's why I always say that I love the city of Chicago. I'm always appreciative for this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear."
Ha. Tell it to Lamarr Houston.
More to the point, Jared Allen:
"Defensively, we realized it was like a home game. Once we got the lead, we knew we had to take it. We had some good situational advantages, and we got into those. We were able to take advantage."
* Proposition: Kyle Fuller is the Bears' best player. He's consistently dependable. Is anyone else on this team?
* In the case of Conte, you have to wonder if MRI means Must Retire Immediately. Though, to be clear, the pending MRI is on his shoulder, not his oft-concussed head.
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