Monday, November 10, 2008

The Sun-Times' Obligatory Idiot Version 1.2

Although back in Chicago, I did not insist on exposing my infant child to the onset of early winter at Soldier Field today and instead took in the Titans-Bears match on television with family.

This is a very bad Bears team. And little of that conclusion is due to the actual players, who are, as a general matter, as talented as any of the players that they line up against. Instead, the poor performance -- exemplified again today -- appears to be the result of a stubborn coaching staff on both sides of the ball that refuses to make adjustments in response to in-game developments or to take responsibility for its own debacles. Yet again, Babich/Smith's pass rush failed to have any impact... every time Collins dropped back he had four to five seconds before even a hint of pressure was applied by the defensive line. Yet again, the inability of the defensive side to adjust led to absurd numbers posted by a subpar quarterback.

On the other side of the ball, more of the same. It looked as if Rex had one opportunity to make a throw that he is comfortable and competent at, a pass he overthrew to Devin Hester by three steps. Other than that, Grossman was repeatedly asked to make throws that are not within his wheelhouse, largely because they are the plays that Ron Turner likes to call. A horizontal passing game, versus the vertical game that Grossman has proven himself in the past to be adept at, was just a silly, bizarre approach largely responsive to Grossman's shaken confidence after the staff failed to challenge the play that resulted in Rex's sole turnover (and should have been reversed).

But I am less disappointed in the Bears' performance than I am in the mind-numbing continued idiocy of Chicago's sportswriters. The Tribune and Sun-Times reward peevish, small-minded, inflammatory commentary from their columnists in the same way that the Republican party now encourages willfully ignorant, mean-spirited, affected folksiness. Greg Couch's rant pinning blame principally on Rex Grossman for today's loss is fairly representative of the new genre. My bookshelf at home is replete with the works and compilations of great Chicago sportswriters who augmented my love of sports in the city as a child. Now, in the new vein of insufferable judgmental morons like Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti, I am treated to analysis like that proferred by Couch when simply trying to read about how the coaching staff absolved itself of blame from yet another loss. Focusing on Grossman as the locus for the Titans' win is roughly equivalent to blaming Josh Brolin for how the film "American Gangster" ended up becoming a derivative piece of gangster-genre-film fluff destined to be ignored and forgotten (perhaps this is too forced, but when I think of this year's Bears team, I think of disappointment, and when I think of disappointment, I think of Ridley Scott's "American Gangster"). Gee, Greg, do you think that after Grossman completed the nine-yard pass to Olsen to begin the last drive, he then overruled Turner and called an off-right tackle run for Forte, seeking to run time off the clock rather than secure the tying score? Perhaps Grossman's inability to pressure Kerry Collins explains the 30-41, 289 yard, 2 touchdown performance from the 36-year old quarterback who came into the game having thrown three touchdowns in seven previous starts and who's previous best performance this season amounted to a 199-yard passing effort? And it was Hester's returns and not Maynard's punting (or Turner's playcalling?) that put the Bears' in poor field position throughout the game?

By no stretch of the imagination did Rex have a good game, but singling him out for criticism is stupid, unfair, and cynically intended to incite fans against a player who has already proved his mettle and worth by saving the Bears from a truly embarrassing loss to the Lions at home last week. I don't know what it is going to take to get good sportswriters back to becoming the rule and not the exception in this town, but surely the first step is booting every blowhard angling for face time on ESPN outside city limits.

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