The Other Fifteen

Eighty-five percent of the f---in' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Your team sucks! Keep buying newspapers!

So, Rick Morrissey has written one of those articles you write when you just want to make sure nobody thinks you're a homer. You know, because all of the professors in J-school who got disgusted because you decided to cover sports instead of "hard" news are following your every move and making sure you don't forget everything they taught you in "Introduction to Newswriting." Jay Marriotti is famous for it.

The background: The Bears just resigned quarterback Rex Grossman to a one-year, incentive-laden contract. He'll compete with Kyle Orton for the starter's job; weak-armed backup Brian Griese is going to be cut loose before the team takes a cap hit off of him. Now, for Morrissey:

Cubs fans can tell you all about hope — how to embrace it, how to find sustenance in it and, as an added bonus, how to make paper dolls out of it once the season goes to pieces.

But what are Bears fans supposed to do with hope? Close their eyes and ignore the fact that Rex Grossman just signed a one-year contract to stay with the team?


If you thought last season was tough, when the Bears couldn't put together a two-game winning streak until the end of the year, this off-season could turn out to be worse. The only thing that kept people going last year was the Bears' contention that 2007 was a sad, unfortunate fluke and that good times were right around the corner.

Thank you, Rick, for that wonderful and uplifting piece. I'm sure your J-school professors are very proud of you for not going native. But on the other hand, something about "personal integrity" and "facts" needs to come into play here.

If you're going to ask the question, "What are the reasons to have hope for next year?" aren't you kind of obligated to at least address the following:

  • The Bears have released underperforming, high-paid players like Muhsin Muhammad, Fred Miller, Reuben Brown and Darwin Walker. That frees up quite a bit of cap space to allow the Bears to fill holes.
  • The release of Miller and Brown means that the Bears aren't ignoring their problems on the O-line last season, and it's hard to see how it matters who's throwing the ball if pass protection is poor and the run game nonexistant. The Bears had one of the worse run blocking units in the NFL last season. Of course, part of that is because the guys running from behind the line were inadequate. Which leads us to...
  • The Bears aren't planning on Cedric Benson as featured back next season, which can only help matters. It's hard to grade this until we see exactly what the Bears plans are at running back, but it would be hard not to upgrade; Cedric Benson was close to being the worst running back in the NFL last season, and Adrian Peterson (not Purple Jesus, the other one) only looked good when your point of comparison was Cedric Benson.

So that's your cause for hope: you get better blocking and better running and you stop being so one-dimensional, and so you don't have to rely on the quarterback as much. And you force defenses to loosen up a bit, because you have a more diverse offensive attack. And then you hope the Bears can find some reinforcements for the defense while they're at it.

It's a tall order; it's made taller by the fact that Lance Briggs, Bernard Berrian and Brendon Ayanbadejo are all threats to leave in free agency. And the great mystery of Brian Urlacher's health is out there. This is a team with a lot of questions, and next season could end up being bad. You can certainly make the case for Morrissey's conclusions, that the team isn't very good and isn't close to contending.

But it should be an honest case, and that means mentioning the facts that run counter to your argument, even if that just means refuting them or putting them into context. It's probably too much to ask, but it shouldn't be.

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1 Responses to “Your team sucks! Keep buying newspapers!”

  1. # Anonymous dccubfan

    I don't have a problem with them resigning Grossman. There aren't any FA QB's out and they can't talk all they want about McNabb but I don't think the Eagles are done with him yet.

    The Bears got to the SB with Grossman because the had a great defense and a very good running game and Grossman's arm scares teams just enough to keep them honest. There aren't very many
    QB's in this league that could have won many games with what the Bears trotted out there last year on both sides of the ball. No blocking, no running, no tackling, and poor turnover margin.

    Losing Mike Brown (which is an annual thing) is the biggest loss they had. He gets people in position to make plays and is always in position himself. He has a knack for getting the turnover too.

    They need to draft a OL in RD1, RB RD2 (if they don't get on in FA, in that case pick up a QB in RD2), WR and DT in RD3. Sign Gibril Wilson, Madieu Williams, or Eugene Wilson to play S next year and they might be right there in the NFC.  

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