It is September 25, 2003. It is just a few days before the next Chicago Bear season opener. But there is little excitement in ChiTown. The Cubs are in first place with a few games to play. The Cubs could clinch the division title the day before the Bears' Monday night nationally televised football scrum with the rival Green Bay Packers.
For the past decades, this was a Bear town. Season ticket holders held true, inheriting tickets from the relatives; holding true against the cold lake winds during the dead of winter, and the dead bad teams of the past. Papa Bear Halas created the National Football League. His team was old school-- hard knocks, working class run and defense. The Bears were so dominant that the football Cardinals left for St. Louis (and wound up in Arizona). But today, there are some old diehard football fans who would not mind having the hapless Cardinals playing in the old Comiskey Park (or even that ill-designed new Sox Park).
The Bears started the season in San Francisco. It was the worse loss in franchise history. In franchise history!! It was an unwatchable horror show. One coach's quote on any positives from the game: there was a good incompletion. It shows the fundamental philosophical breakdown of the coaching staff. They have the mindset of not making mistakes instead of making plays. Two yard out patterns are harder for the defense to intercept when it is third down and ten yards to go. The defense plays off fifteen yards from the opponents receivers on third down and ten so the receiver does not get behind them. Bend but not break defensive soft zones. Three downs and out for the offense and hopefully a good punt.
For years, the fans, columnists and radio hosts have been lamenting the fact that the coaches have no viable game plan. However, in the worst defeat in franchise history, they are proven wrong. The Bears coaches have a plan. It is solely based on field position. They see the game like a checkers and chess match of field position. It is like they are little kids playing with one of those old electric vibrating football games with the plastic players that moved totally at random. So the entire game plan is not centered around getting touchdowns or interceptions or sacks, it is based upon the concept of trying to improve your field position. An offensive play should have as its point or goal a touchdown, right? Even little kids in the sandlot pick-up game draw in the dirt plays that lead to the end zone. In the Bears scheme, it is an after-thought or a bonus if the defender falls down, has a heart attack, or breaks his leg on the new sticky artificial turfs.
In the second game, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Bears like a rented mule. The score was closer in the box score, but the team played as poorly. So poorly that most people turned off the Sunday night telecast before the fourth quarter started.
The Bears management have been targeting this season for the grand re-opening of the new, controversial Soldier Field. It looks like a glass sombrero stuffed into the walls of a Roman public building. In essence, the bad news Bears of last season played all their games on the road. It was the trade-off for having a new stadium, a sweetheart secret revenue ladened lease, and private seat licenses. It is the beginning of the golden age for the club. It has its full wealth potential realized with the new stadium, league revenue sharing and product sales from their star player, Brian Urlacher. The Bears do not need to field a great product to succeed in the NFL. They can embarrass themselves week in and week out, be compared to the Bengals, but the owners can sit back and laugh their way to the bank. The seats have been sold. The advertising has been sold.
The only fly in the ointment is that there have been rumors for the last two weeks that Soldier Field is not ready for opening night. In fact, there could be serious problems. If one went to the Soldier Field construction web site, which had live pictures of the progress of the stadium throughout construction, you could have seen the swinging wrecking ball to concrete pours. But today you would find that the live feed has been terminated. No live video. No current pictures. Now, there may be a reason for the secrecy. The grand unveiling for television. But the rumors were that the seats were not in or that there was problems with the concession areas or other public facilities.
There was also a discussion on the fact that if the home site was not available, the Bears were purposely playing a divisional rival in case the team had to flip home and home dates. But as it stands now, the game is on for Monday night. Which is going to be another embarrassment.
The Packers have not played well. However, Bret Favre eats Bear for dinner. The Bears play poorly traditionally on Monday nights. Favre usually excels. Another national announce crew will have a field day (night) second guessing the coaching plays from the Bears staff.
The Real News