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Deflated, planar, procumbent, supine, prone.
In other words: flat.
By the end of Sunday's first half, the Bears had reverted from an undermanned but competitive squad to a team so listless and uninspired that they looked less like a football team and more like the "Welcome" mat placed before the pedestal that will one day support the bronze bust of Teddy Bridgewater's head in Canton.
Despite the defense holding Adrian Peterson to 63 rushing yards . . . oh, who am I kidding. Injury limited Peterson to 63 yards.
"Overall, I thought we did a good job limiting Peterson in the second half," said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, ignoring the fact that Peterson had all of six carries in the final two quarters. "I think we might have scared him a little bit."
When ESPN beat reporter Ben Goessling relayed Fangio's thoughts to Minnesota's star running back, he shrugged.
Or at least, approximated a shrug of total indifference.
When Goessling encountered Peterson, he was bench pressing a beautifully restored 1966 Buick Skylark in the weight room of the stadium, which made it difficult to physically make a shrugging motion.
"No structural damage to the ankle, by the way," said Peterson locking his arms into position with the car above his body for the 18th time. "But thanks for asking. Hey Ben, can you spot me?"
"Uh . . . how?" said the journalist as he watched Peterson smoothly perform another two reps.
"Aw, c'mon man. It's only 3,500 pounds," said the running back as he completed rep 21. "You'll only be worrying about 1,700, max. Ben? You there?"
But Goessling had already speed-walked out of the facility and well into the parking lot.
There wasn't much that went right for the Bears on Sunday. Even a successful onside kick coming out of halftime was quickly nullified by a turnover.
Overall, it was a pretty rough day for the whole team off the field as well.
Sherrick McManis found a four-leaf clover, only to have it spontaneously combust in his hands.
Matt Forte was delivered a late birthday present at the team hotel on Sunday morning that didn't live up to expectations.
"Grandma remembered!" exclaimed the running back as he opened the small box. His enthusiasm quickly diminished as the contents of the package were revealed to be a literal bag of dicks.
"Happy birthday, chew on some dongs. Love, Minneapolis" read the card.
A dejected Forte left the box at the doorstep without eating even one.
After initially celebrating his promotion from the practice squad, linebacker John Timu discovered that he was basically only being used as a means of threatening other players who were more entrenched at their positions.
"Teemu?" remarked Parnell McPhee upon learning the upstart defenseman would be getting more playing time than him. "You're cutting my snaps to give a look at middle-aged, former Winnipeg Jet Teemu Selanne? The Finnish Flash?"
"That is accurate," said Fangio in a monotone sarcasm that flew over McPhee's head by a mile. "We would like to see if this retired NHL forward he has enough left in the tank to help us at the linebacker position."
"This is BOGUS!" yelled McPhee, hurling a folding chair across the meeting room.
"Uuuhhh, seriously?" was all Fangio could muster in response as McPhee stormed out of the meeting room. "Oh damn. We are gonna looooooose today."
It's The Thought That Counts
For nine seasons, Lovie Smith presided over the Bears sideline and ultimately became one of the top coaches in Chicago football history. A defensive-minded leader who preached a style of play designed to create turnovers largely by punching balls, Smith excelled at inspiring fierce loyalty from his players.
His strong character and outwardly mellow demeanor lent an air of consistency and confidence to the franchise, but ultimately expectations grew to the point where Smith was fired in 2012 following a 10-6 season.
No coach is perfect and Smith had his share of weaknesses, some of which contributed to his termination. He often exhibited poor clock management, was largely unsuccessful in his use of challenge flags, and, while his heart was always in the right place, gave terrible Christmas presents.
We're talking pop guns, an eight-ounce bottle of Mr. Bubble, opened boxes of sidewalk chalk and Necco Wafers.
Smith is near the completion of his second season as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who the Bears will face this Sunday.
In honor of both the reunion and the holiday season, let's take a look back at some of Lovie's most ill-conceived gifts.
- 2004: Virginia McCaskey was the recipient of a Dick Jauron bobblehead.
- 2005: The straight-laced Smith found horses to be vulgar beasts; Justin Gage became the "proud" owner of a wooden rocking lamb.
- 2006: Not so much a critique of the gift itself, but at the end of the day it wasn't exactly a good idea to help Tank Johnson get his FOID card.
- 2007: Patrick Mannelly got a bonnet, which just made no fucking sense.
- 2008: Kyle Orton got a used copy of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
- 2009: Offensive coordinator Ron Turner received Jay Cutler, who ultimately cost Turner his job.
What's In A Name Part 2
Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin has arguably the worst nickname in the NFL. Just ask him.
"The name 'Muscle Hamster' is the worst nickname possibly ever given to somebody," Martin told USA Today. "I hope that I play to a level where my nickname changes. That's what my goals are."
It's bad. Bad enough to make it a professional goal to rid oneself of, but "Lovie's Muscle Hamster" isn't quite as bad as:
- Lester "The Molester" Hays (Oakland Raiders)
- Richie "Two Dicks" McCaw (All Blacks of New Zealand)
- Ebby Calvin "Dook" LaLoosh (Durham Bulls)
- Stan "The Herpes Outbreak" Stanton (also Durham Bulls)
- Dick Cheney (Haliburton Evil Overlords)
Kool-Aid (2 of 5 Mojito Pitchers)
I might actually upgrade from two "pitchers" to two "kiddy pools" prior to kickoff, because A) it's gonna take a whole hell of a lot of something alcoholic, or something with a whole lot of nudity to keep me to seated in front of this game for three hours, and B) I like to keep my breath extra minty fresh.
On the surface, the Bucs aren't in a much better situation than the Bears, but with a very young core the team from Florida has an identity and looks to improve rapidly.
Obviously I'm pretty down on the Bears right now, so you might be asking, why not a one out of five rating?
One of the bright spots for Chicago in 2015 has been the coaching staff. After laying an absolute egg last week, I am very interested in observing the level of effort put forth by the Bears this week. More so than the actual outcome.
Speaking of which, the match-up to watch will be 6-foot-5 Tampa receiver Mike Evans versus whichever two Bears that Fangio decides to put into a single trench coat in an attempt to make them appear tall enough to cover Evans.
This ruse may fool rookie QB Jameis Winston for a quarter or two, but expect a second-half adjustment to burn the Chicago secondary.
The Bears pleasantly surprised us following their earlier three-game losing streak, so I think it's entirely possible that we get a good effort this week.
But I've got a hunch that it won't be enough.
Bucs 21, Bears 17
About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher wishes you and yours a very merry week of "Holiday," or if you belong to a denomination of Pastafarianism that celebrates Pastivus on December 23rd, I hope the distribution of candy to the children of the neighborhood was successful. Embrace with other the pirates in your lives knowing that you have brought lighthearted joy throughout the land. R'amen.
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.
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