Bears Out of Excuses, the Future is Now.................

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    For Bears, future is now — or else
    They will enter camp brimming with confidence and with knowledge they will be judged successful only if they make playoffs


    [​IMG]
    Jay Cutler
    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler throws during a scrimmage at OTA practice at Halas Hall. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune /June 3, 2014)

    By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter
    10:10 p.m. CDT, July 10, 2014

    In the topsy-turvy world of the NFL, where you often find a worst-to-first story, the Bears have managed to do something difficult since their last Super Bowl appearance.

    They have found a way to hang around mediocre most of that period: Never quite good enough but almost always clinging to hope in the final month of the season.

    The Bears have reached the playoffs only once in the last seven seasons and not once in that span have they had a top-10 draft pick. They have been the ultimate tease.

    At this time last summer, you could call it an aberration they finished 10-6 in 2012 and did not reach the postseason. Now, you can reflect back on the final game of 2013 when the NFC North title came down to last-minute loss to the Packers at Soldier Field. Was that a seed of optimism or another reminder the team fell just short?

    The Bears are self-assured with the July 24 reporting date to training camp in Bourbonnais fast approaching. The offense was among the best in the league a year ago and returns every starter. The defense was the focus of free-agent spending and the draft.

    General manager Phil Emery, in his introductory news conference in 2012, spoke about winning multiple championships. He still uses championship in the plural from time to time. It's an expectation he has made very public for those inside Halas Hall. Coach Marc Trestman's second season (and Emery's third) can be evaluated as a success only if the club reaches the postseason.

    "That is the only way you can gauge success in the NFL," said left tackle Jermon Bushrod, one of four players (Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, Ryan Mundy) on the roster with a Super Bowl ring. "With the guys we brought in and the people we have on offense and the way we can … get our defensive guys more familiar with the scheme, we have a really good shot. It's about what we do collectively."

    The Bears' last playoff appearance came in 2010 when they reached the NFC championship game after defeating the sub-.500 Seahawks in the divisional round. The highest they have drafted in the last seven years is No. 14 (twice) with the No. 11 overall pick in 2009 going to the Broncos in the Jay Cutler trade. That's what makes their extended stay in mediocrity somewhat unusual. They haven't bombed out in any season.

    Emery has been forthright. He doesn't believe he's serving ownership with any kind of rebuilding phase. He's making moves with an eye toward the future but his primary objective and overriding goal is to compete this year every year.

    The top of the draft is where it is easiest to find elite talent but and the Bears have not been there. They are one of just five clubs (Patriots, Giants, Steelers, Chargers) to avoid a top-10 pick in the last eight drafts. The other four have 17 playoff appearances between them, six Super Bowl appearances and three Lombardi Trophies in that span. That is what makes the Bears' inclusion on this list an anomaly.

    Seven teams (Ravens, Cowboys, Broncos, Packers, Colts, Saints, Eagles) have had a top-10 pick just once in the last eight drafts and those teams have combined for 30 playoff appearances, five Super Bowl appearances and three titles.

    The Bears have avoided sustained losing and largely that has been accomplished with a stout defense. Of course, the team's identity has shifted dramatically under Trestman.

    Only the Broncos scored more points than the Bears' 445 last season. They played six games against teams in the bottom nine in the NFL in scoring defense and two against top-10 scoring defenses. But entering the second year in Trestman's system has the Bears as confident entering camp as they were in 2011 coming off the trip to the conference title game. They believe they can compete with anyone.

    Revamping the defensive line with ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young should make the Bears much better rushing the passer. Playoff-caliber teams have to get after the quarterback.

    If Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman remain healthy and draft picks Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton emerge, the defense should be much improved. The Bears don't have to be great on defense like they have been in the recent past. They have more margin for error with a high-powered offense capable of moving the ball through the air and on the ground.

    Allen said it was more what the Bears have on the other side of the ball that lured him to the team in free agency.

    "I know what it takes to prepare for this offense, and it sucks," he said.

    Whether or not Allen is a missing link remains to be seen. Julius Peppers was a Pro Bowl selection in three of his first four years with the team and the club reached the postseason just once.

    There is no way around the fact playoff aspirations have been unfulfilled too often. It's why coach Lovie Smith, who reached the playoffs in his second season in 2005 with Kyle Orton at quarterback, was fired after the 10-6 finish in 2012. Reaching the postseason is part of the cultural accountability within the organization now. The Bears need to deliver in 2014 because there isn't any more margin for excuses.

    bmbiggs@tribune.com
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I think Biggs makes some very good points here. It's getting much harder to find any legitimate reasons or even good excuses for why the Bears should remain mired in mediocrity and that's exactly where they've been for the better part of a decade.

    They've become the NFL's biggest "teasers" always looking like a playoff team but somehow finding a way to just miss out. I think Biggs summary of the other teams who've been in similar situations on draft day is enlightening.

    It show how well other teams have done at maintaining playoff and even Super Bowl caliber teams without the benefit of higher choices and yet the Bears seem to manage little more than to break even each year. Nice work Jerry Angelo. Maybe you should be asked to do a few more articles on how to draft for success. :10 9 137[1]:

    Looking at the bright side, we haven't bottomed out even once but I'm sure every other Bears fan feels pretty much like I do. Enough of these bull shit 8-8 or 9-7 finishes. From now on 10-6 should be a bad year. It's time this team began a string of winning 12 games or more and year and competes for a championship every year the way the Bears of old did.

    Restore the pride and the title "Monster's of the Midway".
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  3. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    I agree 10-6 should be a bad yr. That is why starting out 4-4 does not excite me.
  4. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It doesn't excite me either and I'm sure it doesn't excite Trestman and his guys, Phil Emery or the team but all in all that's a tough 8 game schedule before they get a break. It's a dual edge sword though. A lot of people would see 4-4 as a best case scenario especially with where they're playing their road games and the inclusion of two night games.

    If they come through that stretch 4-4 I don't see that as a killer as far as their playoff chances go as long as one of those four wins is against the Packers. But if they come through 5-3 or 6-2 that's gonna give them a tremendous lift in confidence going into the second half where the majority of the NFCN games are. If that happens and they stay healthy they should be a shoe in for the playoffs provided they don't fold again in November and December.

    If that happens again some heads are really gonna role.
    • Bear Down! Bear Down! x 1
  5. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It's showtime for sure.

    The defense may be a bit of a "work in progress" in the early games. This is a team that should get better as the season goes on. I'm hoping this is the case anyway. Too many years we've looked pretty ragged at the end of the season - rather than peaking then, and going into the playoffs playing our best football, we instead look like wannabe's. Last season we didn't deserve to be in the playoffs. Green Bay tried to hand us the Division gift wrapped, and we couldn't take it. We were that bad as a team.

    We need the offense to pick up strong right outta the chute......from the first game - and - they need to play complete games. That showing up in the 4th quarter is not good. People think it's great that Cutler can come up big in the 4th quarter, but I'd rather see the offense be a power, all game long. Come out scoring and keep on scoring. I also want to see a Chicago Bears team that can win against the good teams too. That first Green Bay matchup should tell us a lot about this 2014 team. I'd like to see us manhandle them. Make it a statement game. Let's see a defense that can play with the big boys, while our offense lights up the scoreboard. Put some fear into teams.

    It's showtime. We're either a championship caliber team this season - or wannabe's again.
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  6. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    You hit the nail on the head with the "come out scoring and keep scoring". We've been playing tight games or playing from behind for so long I can't remember the last time we went out and truly dominated team on both sides of the ball and we need some games like that.

    If we can get up by two or three scores and then force the other guys to throw with the rushers we have that should be a nice spot to be in. This team needs to have more killer instincts. They need to put the boot on more throats this year and do it early in games.
    • Bear Down! Bear Down! x 1
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  7. jackiejokeman

    jackiejokeman Pro-Bowler

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    Take the Biggs article, enlarge it and put it on a billboard 50 ft.tall x 30 ft.wide on the training field at Bourbonnais.

    Those BEARS players that know how to read better read it.
  8. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That's awfully negative. Our guys are all pretty literate. This isn't the NBA you know. LOL
  9. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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  10. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    This quote thing is screwed up. I have to go to BB code for it to paste normal. Now it put by comment in your quote.
  11. jackiejokeman

    jackiejokeman Pro-Bowler

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    Life in the big city.
  12. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    I hate it when that happens
  13. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    They need to quit with the "excuses" garbage. The team doesn't use them, and probably never will.
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  14. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    If the key guys stays mostly healthy, get your popcorn ready.
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  15. 4dabers

    4dabers Veteran DBS Writer

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    And THERE you have the real point. I don't care if you choose to call it an excuse or a reason, but team health is the biggest thing of all. Every year there are 4 or 5 teams that come in as the top dogs with very real expectations of competing for the SB. On the other end of the spectrum, there are usually about 6 or 7 that everyone knows will suck and do not have a realistic chance to compete. That leaves about 18 to 20 teams that have "a chance" if they can stay healthy and team health will play a major role in their success or failure. I recall Biggs writing an article about this time of year two years ago after we brought in Marshall, and the headline was very similar; "Cutler has no more excuses". I remember thinking at that time "What the hell are you thinking Bigsey? He still has no O-Line!" and he didn't. Now the offense has been effectively fixed and the very first year under this coach our Offense was among the league leaders. The Defense was decimated and sucked. Is it an excuse or a reason? I think any rational person could have watched the Bears last year rationalized that 2 or 3 fewer injuries on Defense would have given us at least 2 more wins and maybe 3. That puts us in the playoffs and the Division Championship.

    So how can anyone say "No more excuses" in a contact sport? If we have relatively few injuries and we still end up 8-8, then that's different, but what if Cutler, Forte, Marshall, Bennett and a couple of O-Linemen miss multiple games? Is that an excuse or a reason? Aside from conditioning, there is no predicting or preventing injuries and some are just freak (see Cutlers thumb injury two years ago). Shit happens and the results can be very real reasons for a team losing (see Green Bay Packers last year after Rodgers went down; excuse or reason?).
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  16. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It's fixed now. Ski took care of it this AM.
  17. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I couldn't agree more. That just isn't the personality of Trestman and his staff and it won't be the personality of the team either. The goal is to win championships so there's no reason to accept less. There's no reason for excuses if you just go out and do it and to a man they're seeing that as their mission.

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