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Holy crap, you guys! Welcome back!
It's been eight long months and the only thing left on Earth that can hold people's attention for seven hours at a time has returned to television!
No, it's not your children! Because dance recitals are bullshit!
No, it's not porn! Because of chafing!
Say it with me!
It's time to start the 2016 season of the National . . . (pause for effect) . . . Foot . . . (pause for effect) . . . Ball . . . (pause) . . . line?
[Editor's Note: "League," you idiot! Say "LEAGUE!"]
The 2016 season of the National Football Leaf is finally upon us!
[Editor's Note: Uh, just keep going.]
Which means, woooo friggin' hooo, it's that time of the year where I go off my meds, start every morning with a freshly squeezed bottle of Scotch and type furiously about our favorite professional pigskin pals, the Chicago Bears!
(Queue Howard Dean scream)
A quick primer on what to expect from this column. First off, we're not big on "stats" or "fact checking" around here. The Internet is full of places where you can get "information."
For instance, you could Google stuff like "world's largest gangbang Lisa Sparxxx or PJ Sparxx?" (I can never remember!) or "how many alcohol related seizures weighs too much?"
However, you might want to know how many career receiving yards Deonte Thompson has or if Jay Cutler had the most rushing yards of any Bear in a particular game.
If so, bugger off. There's nothing for you here.
From a nuts and bolts standpoint, I often use embedded links in the BAOKAR to avoid drawing the attention of copyright lawyers in the direction of my fine friends at The Beachwood Reporter.
To use these links, hold the Control button (or whatever key you use on a Mac; an eggplant emoji I assume) and left-click with your mouse.
Go ahead, give it a try.
Nineteen times out of 20, the link will send you somewhere that illuminates one of the numerous obscure references you'll find in my work.
Or, as is the case for the above example, something rando Bear-related image.
But sometimes it's just a picture of my anus on Tumblr.
In any case, you're welcome.
I also make frequent use of footnotes, mostly in the form of asterisks. For those of you who didn't complete sixth grade, this is an asterisk: *.
Yes, that was a real footnote. Jump to the bottom of the page and read the words next to the corresponding number of little star thingies.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Lastly, the Kool-Aid. At the end of each column, I'll assign a level of hype for the upcoming week's game on a scale of one to five alcoholic beverages. Because I'm a pusher.
It's a method that might seem completely arbitrary . . . because it is. You'll also find a very, very, very, thin veneer of analysis for the upcoming match-up in the Kool-Aid section, along with a predicted outcome.
If memory serves, I think I said that the Bears were going to win every single game in 2012 by a score of 23-20, so I wouldn't exactly go running straight to your bookie's house with cash in fist based on whatever the hell I write at the end of this article.
With all that out of the way, let's talk some Bootball!
[Editor's Note: (slaps own forehead)]
Oh yeah, and sometimes my imaginary editor Steve shows up in the form of those square parenthetical things.
Ultimately, anyone can write. But a pro re-writes. That's where Steve comes in.
[Editor's Note: You typically dump something on my desk 45 minutes before we're supposed to go to press. Usually that's just enough time to delete anything racist about people from Estonia.]
Hahahahaha! It sure is, Steve. It sure is.
Keep up the good work and let's get out there for another great season!
Even with a handful of days left between these keystrokes and Week 1, there are many roster moves expected as the Bears tweak their lineup in preparation for another exciting season of football action.
Translation: I've got shit to do on Wednesday, so prepare yourself for some references to players that aren't even on the team by this weekend.
Oh dammit, Khari Lee just got the axe. Now my bit about him being a Skyrim character is useless.
Near-term moves aside, we can certainly discuss the fact that this offseason continued to showcase the current regime's ongoing commitment to sweeping change. The 2016 Bears feature a completely rebuilt O-Line, a bolstered linebacking corps, an actual rugby player and a shitload of unknown guys in the secondary whose names boast unusual amounts of punctuation.
Have you checked out the list of transactions from the last two months?
If you have, and I told you a dude named Cre'Vonte' Le'Hurst-Goldblatt just got picked up on waivers from the Lions' practice squad, you wouldn't be entirely sure I'm joking.
I'll wait while you check the Bears' website . . .
Ha! Your dumb ass believed me! They actually got him from the Patriots**.
Big name players who were sent packing included Pro Bowlers Matt Forte, Robbie Gould and Martellus Bennett. Ostensibly because they were "old," or "expensive," or "the arrow was pointing down," or they were an expensive and ineffective nuisance with a bad attitude who got beat out for a starting gig by a 31-year-old receiving tight end who basically hadn't played a professional football game for four years.
[Editor's Note: You missed Ego Ferguson and you forget the quotes on that last one?]
I did not. Also, does anybody really "miss" Ego Ferguson?
[Editor's Note: I'll allow it.]
Bennett aside, many Bear fans were left scratching their heads in regards to the rationale behind cutting Forte and Gould; the kicker in particular because running backs over the ripe ol' age of 30 typically get either put out to stud (first stop, Maude Flanders!) or sent to the Jets.
When asked about Gould, Bears GM Ryan Pace was quoted as saying, "When a player comes available that we feel good about, we have to consider it. And sometimes make the hard decisions."
In other words, the Bears had identified a list of players on other teams that, if available, would be brought in to compete or replace the Bears' all-time leading scorer.
Granted, none of us expected Bears brass to react to Connor Barth's unexpected availability like, "Oh shit, son! The McRib is back!"
But here we are.
While departures grabbed the spotlight in the latter parts of the offseason, draft picks and acquisitions made headlines earlier this summer.
For example, a season-ending injury to presumptive starting center Hroniss Grasu (known in some circles by his anagram, "Iron Ass Shrug") opened the door for two new faces; longtime author of the single-panel cartoon The Far Side Ted Larsen and rookie Cody Whitehair.
Tack on new tackle Bobby Massie, plus Packer-pilfered Pro Bowl guard Posh Pitton, ugh, I mean Josh Sitton, and the Bears offensive line is starting to look . . . positively passable.
Hopefully they can provide enough pass protection to find out if 2015 first-round pick Kevin White can run a go route.
Or any route in the playbook for that matter. The early feedback on White's grasp of the game at the NFL level is not promising.
On the defensive side of the ball, Danny Trevathan (whose name is forcing me to copy/paste off the depth chart . . . for some reason I always spell it "Dannie"), Jerrell Freeman and rookie/human beanpole Leonard Floyd highlight the cast of new linebackers to augment a unit lead by the oft/usually/currently injured Pernell McPhee and professional bass fisherman Willie Young.
That last line isn't much of a stretch.
Here's Willie talking smack to Kevin VanDam, who is likely the only fisherman you've ever heard of besides yourself, or that guy Ronnie who only gets a regular invite because he bums smokes to everyone on the vessel.
We could keep going, but the other 1,000 words I had lined up for this section were a think piece on the role of Marc Mariani (RIP) as a slot receiver.
[Editor's Note: Mariani's not dead!]
I found out as I was proofing this that he's back on the friggin' Titans. What's the difference?
[Editor's Note: I guess I'll allow that one too].
So with that brilliant idea deep-sixed, let's put a pin in the offseason review and look ahead.
Eye On The Opposition: J.J. & The Watt-o-Nauts
Much like KVD is the one of the only fisherman to gain even a slight level of mass notoriety, the Texans boast one of the only players that your girlfriend/boyfriend/straight buddy from Houston would recognize in public and then attempt to seduce.
I speak of the former Defensive Player Of The Year and inspirational meme come to life, J.J. Watt.
On the very real strength of its defensive front and a totally unfounded amount of confidence in new quarterback Lieutenant Brock Osweiler****, Houston has its sights set on a fourth playoff appearance since 2011.
I was right about to make fun of J.J.'s Fun Bunch for only having appeared in five playoff games during the Texans' storied 14-year history . . . buuuuuuut then I remembered that five playoff games between 2011 and 2015 is five more than the Bears have to their credit during that timeframe.
See? This is why I can't be both a loyal fan and look at facts. Promise I'll keep that to a minimum going forward.
If the Bears hope to get the rushing attack going, it's going to take some creativity.
I suggest they run a variation of an end-around in which running back Jeremy Langford disguises himself as a sickly child, thus forcing Watt to stop and hug him in front of the cameras for a minute before cutting a generous check to one of the greater Houston area's adolescent oncological centers.
That should open the door to a 15- to 20-yard gain for Alshon Jeffrey on the weak side.
Other than that, I got nothing.
Kool-Aid (4 of 5 Cans Of Pipeworks' "Unicorn vs. Ninja")
Maybe I'm whoring myself out a little early in the season, but this is one of my favorite beers to buy at my local Binny's Beverage Depot!
If you can't find it at Binny's it's probably not worth drinking!
(Holds hands out expecting endorsement money, receives zero dollars in U.S. currency.)
No? Well I'm not going to stop trying.
You should rightly expect another year of improvement from the Bears, as it appears that John Fox and company have coached this team up as well as it can be, but on paper this match-up looks rough.
I mean, you saw the preseason.
Oh, you didn't? High five, amigos. Neither did I.
But I heard the first three games were mostly such a goddam train wreck that your time was better served fueling your hypochondria on WebMD.
(Searches "can popping neck pimples puncture aorta?")
The combination of pressure expected by the Texans defense and lack of gel time for the revamped Bears' O-line doesn't bode well for the running game.
While I like the front seven's chances to neutralize Houston's lead back/near constant fantasy disappointment Lamar Miller, the downfield match-ups look to favor Texans' receivers.
Ok, so if "Deuce" or "Junior" is a guy named after his father and "Trey" is the third guy in a family with the same name . . . whatever, I'm just going to call him William Fuller "The Quiche."
Where was I? Oh, to hell with it. Cheekbones McGee and The Quiche pose a real threat on Sunday.
That said, the Texans' secondary comes into the season looking to answer questions of its own at the safety position.
So Kevin White, now would be a good time to show us why you were the seventh overall pick last season.
I like the Bears chances to keep it close, but the season likely gets off on the wrong boot.
[Editor's Note: Ok. Knowledge of the sport or not, that's not a turn of phrase. You're just f-ing with me.] Yup.
Houston 27, Bears 21
About The Author
The author's wife took this picture and remarked, "It looks like you're having a conversation, but either nobody's there or nobody's listening."
The author can think of no better metaphor for 25 years' worth of writing music and word.
* This is an asterisk.
** But for reals-ese, they picked up Cre'Von LeBlanc, whose other qualifications include playing Chandler Bing*** in the French version of the TV show Friends.
*** [Editor's Note: Wait . . . I was born before 1979, so think I see what you're going for, but since his last name is LeBlanc, wouldn't he play Joey?] [Author's Response: Nope.]
**** C'mon. With a name like that, he's gotta be a narc.
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.