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Coming off of a string of demoralizing losses, the only real reason to tune into a Bears game at this juncture is to find out what kind of fight the 2015 squad has left in them.
Apparently, quite a bit.
The Bucs presented two major mismatches with Mike Evans at wide receiver and Doug Martin in the backfield.
I can only assume Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio drew from the wisdom I provided in last week's column to design a winning defensive scheme.
[Editor's Note: Did that "wisdom" appear before or after you introduced a character named Stan "The Herpes Outbreak" Stanton?]
It was in the Kool-Aid section, so after.
[Editor's Note: Ah, right after you suggested that one needed to drink a kiddie pool's worth of mojitos in order to watch the game?]
[Editor's Note: I take it you drank a giant mojito before the game.]
No. I assembled a girl's makeup desk while listening to the game on the radio.
[Editor's Note: That would normally sound like a creepy choice, but I'm guessing it had something to do with your kid and Christmas.]
Yeah. She liked it a lot, but I had to wait until after the makeup desk was completed to start drinking. Mrs. Wifey avoids me when I'm near unassembled Ikea furniture and I don't like to drink alone when she's in the house.
[Editor's Note: She doesn't avoid you when you drink several gallons of mojitos?]
Who do you think is feeding me the mojitos? The woman owns an apron with a built in beer coozie and a bottle opener on a zip line.
Anyway, Bears fans should be pleased with an outcome that wasn't anywhere near as close as the 26-21 final score indicated, as the last seven points the Bucs scored were tallied on a successful Hail Mary with one second left in the game.
So you're sticking by your season-long assessment that the Bears are the sixteenth best team in the NFL?
Oh hey, the Mob. I was hoping you'd check in one last time.
Hoping? You have an overwhelming amount of control in this situation.
I like to think of myself as someone who makes dreams come true.
(Slaps collective, imaginary forehead)
If the Bears win against the Lions on Sunday, slightly better than that. Going in I have them ranked 15th; ahead of the Ravens, Browns, Cowboys, Lions, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Raiders, Eagles, Chargers, 49ers, Rams, Buccaneers and Titans.
The Giants, Lions and Texans are debatable.
But as I've been saying all year, there's a legitimate discussion to be had. We couldn't say that going in to Week 17 of 2014.
So this win has meaning?
I'm not much for moral victories at the professional level, but it's become clear that the franchise is back on a positive trajectory and 2016 will be a much more exciting watch.
You were going to be back either way.
Absolutely. And I make no apologies for rooting for the professional football franchise that plays in my region of birth.
That's what you've got us for. Making apologies.
And you know it means the world to me. Have a great offseason guys.
We truly cannot emphasis enough that we're a hive-mind representation of the logical side of your otherwise irrational infatuation with professional sports. We're not going anywhere.
You want me to sign your yearbook?
(Slaps collective forehead)
(Very) Good Jay
Barring a dud of epic proportions in the season finale against the Lions, Jay Cutler's 2015 season will be his finest year as a pro.
Check that. It is near impossible to for Cutler to be bad enough on Sunday to negate the work he's done to this point.
In order for him to totally blow it, he'd have to commit a literal crime on the field during the contest and even infractions like check fraud, slamming the Third Amendment* or arson won't do the trick.
We live in a country where you can stab someone and then later run for president**. People are pretty forgiving when they're excited about a change.
Tanking the good vibes that his season-long uptick has provided is going to require public animal rape or devouring a live baby on the 50-yard line of Soldier Field.
The case for Cutler isn't just statistical; he's passed the eye test.
The oft turnover-prone QB has been an effective game manager, but when called upon he has become a key reason that the Bears either won, led or tied late (Raiders, Chiefs, Lions, Chargers), as well as late-game scores against the Vikings and 49ers which ended up in losing efforts because the defense couldn't hold the opponent. And let's not forget about the last-minute touchdown that would have tied the game if not for a failed two-point conversion against the Broncos.
Given that Cutler's primary (and secondary and tertiary) receivers missed significant time with injury (Jeffrey, White, Bennett, Forte, Wilson, Royal), it's fair to say that this performance was achieved with one hand tied behind his back.
Smokin' Jay addressed this subject in last week's post-game press conference.
Cutler: "Yeah, it's been a pretty good season for me personally. Ultimately, the goal is always to win, so from a big picture perspective I feel like I need to be even better next season."
Hub Arkush: "Jay, what specifically has changed this season that contributed most to the sustained success?"
Cutler (offering a half-hearted shrug): "It's a combination of a few things, but I think that this year the most important factor is the rich, bold flavor of Maverick cigarettes (holds up a pack of Gold Kings in full view of the camera). From the makers of such American staples as Winston and Kool, Maverick offers adult smokers the smooth taste of premium priced cigarettes at an everyday low price."
Putting two in his mouth, Cutler lights both and hands one to Kristin Cavallari, who high-fives the Bears QB before taking a slow, satisfying drag and posing for the cameras with one hand on her hip.
Arkush: "I see you've got yourself an endorsement deal."
Cutler (cracking a rare smile): "Suck a dick, you cranky old fuck. I'm even richer." (Takes a drag, blows out a long plume of smoke, walks away from podium with Cavallari on one arm while Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules" cranks over the speakers.)
Arkush: "That doesn't really answer my question."
Arkush: "There's still one more game left, I'm gonna be here next week!"
Cutler continues walking.
The 2015 Koolies
With the end of the season upon us, it's time to once again*** present deserving members of the Bears with the coveted Koolie award, a recognition of (usually no more than) 17 weeks' worth of the absolute best that the franchise has to offer their legions of fans.
Much like the Oscar for Best Picture, the number of Koolies awarded and the criteria for winning varies from year to year. Rumor has it that the formula is largely determined by El Nino weather patterns.
Before we present the most popular awards, I'd like to take a minute to congratulate the winners of the Technical Koolies presented in a ceremony earlier this evening (credits scroll past at lightning speed).
Excellent work guys. We couldn't do our jobs without you.
And now the Beachwood Reporter would like to present a tribute to those we've lost in 2015 (watches video montage set to "Time Of Your Life" by Green Day).
Thanks for that touching tribute, Steve. I'm pretty sure that song was meant for high school graduations, but that was truly a moving homage to Moses Malone.
So without further adieu . . .
Most Improved Player: A 12-way tie between Adrian Amos, Jonathan Anderson, Bryce Callahan, Tayo Fabuluje, Jacoby Glenn, Eddie Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Harold Jones-Quartey, Jeremy Langford, Khari Lee, Cameron Meredith and John Timu.
A year ago, these guys weren't even playing football.
Comeback Player Of The Year: Zach Miller, TE.
You could make the argument that he deserves this award at the league level. Despite starting 14 games this season, few noticed the athletic tight end until Week 9 in San Diego when it became clear the coaching staff had become angry at Martellus Bennett for refusing to make a rap video about IHOP's famed Lingonberry syrup.
Best Shirt: JR, Brother-In-Law.
Hey, that's a nice shirt! Have a trophy.
Most Predictable Outcome Of A Future Contract Negotiation: Matt Forte, RB and Ryan Pace, GM.
Forte: "I'm one of the most reliable every-down running backs in the history of the NFL. I'd like a comp package commensurate with my performance."
Pace: "Money, eh? Let's have a look at Eddie George's stats his first season after he turned 30 (type, type, type, type). Yeah. We're not going to do that."
Forte: "Eddie George?! He had a chronic toe injury and we're two totally different styles of running back. What about all the guys who had huge seasons after they turned 30? Like, somewhat recently! Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Fred Taylor, Priest Holmes . . . "
Pace (with fingers in both ears): "La la la la la la la!"
Forte: " . . . Thomas Jones, Emmitt Smith, Ricky Watters and Ricky Williams, Fred Jackson, Barry Sanders!"
Best Porn Star Name: Kyle Long, T.
Careful consideration was also given to Jermon Bushrod, Adrian Anus, Matt Schlongson and Tom Byron.
Guy Whose Name Most Makes You Think You Know Him From Somewhere: Chris Prosinski, S.
I could have sworn Prosinski was the guy who played sax in the Prospect High School variety show in 1997. Huh.
Bear Most Likely To Listen To Megadeth In The Shower Every Morning: David Fales, QB.
Bears MVP: The coaching staff.
A complete overhaul of the defensive scheme, the jettisoning of multiple big-name players and several key injuries left this team a roster of out-of-position veterans, no-names and injured offensive starters. 2015 was treated like an audition and no job or role was safe. Shit, I saw five snaps late in the blowout against the Cardinals before Adam Gase pulled me for taking a selfie instead of blocking. As point "A's" go, this was a masterpiece.
Kool-Aid (3 of 5 Drams Of Ardbeg Scotch)
It's time to wind down for a couple of months while we wait for baseball, the NHL playoffs and Fred Hoiberg's eventual firing.
If you like a lot of peat in your scotch (if you like a lot of Pete in your scotch, I'll let you Google up your own solution), then Ardbeg is my personal recommendation for sitting thoughtfully in a wingback chair in front of a roaring fire.
One of these days, I'll get a home big enough to support a fireplace and stop burning random chairs in the living room, but until then please let me enjoy my classy beverage.
At 6-9, the Lions have made serious improvements of their own this season, having started 1-7.
Despite this resurgence, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell is on the hot seat and will be doing everything in his power to win.
The match-up to watch is dynamic rookie Ameer Abdullah vs. the Bears special teams.
Many feel Abdullah has been a disappointment as a running back this year, but he is incredibly elusive and will pose problems on kickoff returns.
The Bears also have their pride, so don't expect any appearances by third-string players as has been widely rumored during the week.
Unless things go incredibly well or inconceivably bad, the only appearance by David Fales you'll witness before the season finishes is in that weird-ass picture above.
Bears continue to show us their undermanned brand of grit in a final come-from-behind win.
Bears 23, Lions 21
* Who is the government to tell me that it's not my God-given right to quarter soldiers in my home during peacetime?!
** I've gotten some guff for talking conservative in person and writing with a "lefty bias" in public, so to shut certain people up, I offer a summation of my political agenda here: Legislation doesn't solve rampant gun violence; everyone should get free abortions on Tuesdays; I'd rather give 50% of my net income to charity than 40% of my gross to the government; closing our borders to brown and/or swarthy people is both patently un-American and bad for single white people looking for hot, dark-haired partners; God has no interest in American politics, only in those assholes in Papua New Guinea; Obamacare sucks but I don't have a better idea yet; it's a shame we haven't landed on the Moon since the soundstage got torn down in 1972; all marriage laws are of dubious origin so we might as well let gay people enjoy the tax benefits of being chained to another human; and women's nipples are delicious/full of nutrients. Stop trying to tile them out of my Super Bowl halftime show (Bald Eagle Screech).
*** I'm fairly certain this is the first time I've pulled this shit.
About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher has loved covering the 2015 Chicago Bears for The Beachwood Reporter, even though more often than not, the 2015 Chicago Bears didn't love him back. But thanks to alcohol, imaginary co-authors and the stone cold pack of weirdos he calls his friends/family, it has been a joy for him.
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.