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SportsMonday: Bears Not Safe For Work

So I guess we'll have to make an exception to our "preseason games don't matter" mantra.

Because late Saturday it was the Bears themselves (and even Lovie, kind of, after the head coach tried to blame it all on a couple botched field goals) who were acknowledging their concerns after this season's third such game, the game that many believe is slightly less inconsequential than the rest of the preseason.

After all, this is traditionally the one where the starters play longer and try to execute at least a little bit of regular-season type game-planning.

So in the spirit of this game mattering a tiny bit more than not at all, I have a few observations.

* The Bears once again, just like they did all of last season, struggled on third-and-long on Saturday.

There is a ridiculously obvious reason for this: their safeties suck.

Sure, rookie Major Wright is out with an injury, but Wright would not have been the answer this year even if he had stayed completely healthy.

The Bears have too often tried to solve their problems at safety with rookies.

In fact, it was just last year that our favorite football team opened the season with first-year man Al Afalava at a starting safety spot.

He was such a failure there is a good chance he won't even be on the team when final cuts are made this time around.

Drafting a safety doesn't immediately solve a problem at that position. Even if Wright hadn't been hurt he wouldn't have been ready to excel at the position in his first year in the NFL.

* I continue to marvel at the fact that Jerry Angelo apparently truly believes that Chris Harris is another answer at the position.

Once again, we are reminded that the Bears figured out Harris wasn't good enough several years ago and shipped him out. He was surrounded by talented players and apparently well-coached at his next stop, Carolina, and had some success.

Still, he was and is the same player!

And sure enough, he wasn't good enough against the Cardinals and hasn't been good enough all preseason.

* But Danieal Manning had a decent day at the position, you say. Maybe he's the answer?

First of all, best case scenario, he's only half the answer.

Second, Manning has failed to contribute consistently for several seasons now in the Bears secondary - and I'll never forgive him for the blown coverage that led to Reggie Wayne's wide-open touchdown catch in the Super Bowl back when Manning was, wait a minute, a rookie.

I can't bring myself to believe that he will finally find a way to get it done this time around.

* On the other side of the ball, quarterback Jay Cutler is finding it more and more difficult to hide his impatience with his line, and that is understandable given the impact its ineptitude will almost certainly have on his health.

What is not understandable is two terrible interceptions that were 100 percent the quarterback's fault.

We can't have that Jay! Don't start with that crap again!

If Johnny Knox runs the wrong route and isn't open even though you think he would have been open if he had run the right route, you can't throw the ball in his direction just because you're pissed off.

The Bears wrap up the preseason against the sorry Cleveland Browns this coming weekend. The game will not matter in the slightest. Then we finally turn our attention to the regular season and the opener against the Lions. I can't wait. Or maybe I can.

First Tee
I hit the links on Sunday, not to play but to watch my kids participate in a clinic and a little three-hole scramble at the Creekside course in Valparaiso. My aunt and uncle live nearby, do some work on behalf of the First Tee program and had set up the day.

We had some friends there as well and one of them snuck in his clubs and managed to finagle a spot in the scramble. He then proceeded to play pretty well despite the fact that while he had his bag, he ended up taking the course in slightly less-than-ideal footwear (high-end Crocs). Note to self: Next time be prepared for that sort of scenario - if you want to play, of course. And I must admit I didn't really want to. It has been years since I have taken club to ball and it will probably be more than a few years more before I get back to it.

There are several factors in play - the fact that I stink at golf first among them.
That along with the fact that I still haven't figured out how to carve out time to initially get my game back to a level at least slightly above embarrassing (I shouldn't say "get my game back to" that status - I should say "get my game up to" that level for the first time) and then to find a way to play 18 with any kind of regularity.

Do guys get away with heading out to the club early on Saturday or Sunday anymore to spend the day on a course, leaving the smiling wife behind to take care of the kids solo for a half-dozen hours?

I have yet to try that in my house during a little more than a decade's worth of family living and I won't be trying it any time soon. If I did, our parental scale of justice would be thrown so far out of whack that I would be on extended kid duty for at least the next month's worth of Sundays.

On this day the kids received some instruction from Valpo pro Nancy Bender and then played the scramble with a promising young player named Logan Bertalan, a local high school junior who recently won a chance to compete in a Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach this week in which the senior golfers are each paired with junior golfers sponsored by First Tee. Pebble Beach! Is it too late for me to sign up for First Tee?

Other than having to battle through some significant heat, it was a great couple of hours. My son came out of if talking about playing some more golf and if he persists, we might have to make an adjustment to the football/basketball/baseball sports track he's on. Or maybe we'll just see if we can find ways to help him sneak into the occasional scramble.


Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week and then sits back and awaits your comments.

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