Positivity is a wonderful thing. In fact, the ability to simply believe that something can be done is the first step in accomplishing anything in life. But what happens when one closes one’s eyes to reality all together, that is a bit of a different issue.
Unfortunately this is something we encounter all to often amongst NFL fans this time of year. New coach, new schedule, new draft, new season. Everything thing is new. Everything is rosy. Few people want to face the colder realities of the NFL before the season even starts. They’d rather ride on hope. Hope that so and so blossoms or another guy from the draft is going to solve some of, or even all of, the team’s issues.
The tragedy for me, personally, is that I can’t do that. I don’t mean I won’t do it. I mean I’m totally incapable of losing myself in the kind of thinking that only sees the Bears in a positive light. Oh, I see the positives. I love them. I just can’t make them so dominant over other factors that aren’t so sunny and nice.
The reason is actually very simple. As much as I enjoy the highs of being an NFL fan I also dread the lows. I prefer to prepare myself mentally, not for the worst, but for both the bad and the good. This flattens the emotional road ahead. That preparation, for me, starts in January and usually kicks into top gear right about now just before and after the draft.
It was with these thoughts in mind that I read the latest State of the Team article on the Bears by Andy Benoit at Football Outsiders. Benoit is one of the most astute NFL observers out there, writing for, amongst many other publications, The New York Times.
If I didn’t agree with everything in this article, I would at least call his evaluation extremely fair and balanced. But some of you are going to absolutely hate it. In fact, I would dare say a lot of you aren’t going to finish reading it. The following excerpt addressing the offensive line will be sufficient to demonstrate:
“[New offensive tackle Jermon] Bushrod is the latest major investment the Bears have wishfully made in an effort to turn around their awful offensive line. The ex-Saint showed admirable improvement last season but, overall, he still must be described as an above-average athlete with below-average pass-blocking acumen. He’s very good when moving forward and very iffy when moving backwards. Which means, in all likelihood, the Bears will have to give him help in a lot of third-and-long situations. Is Bushrod really worth $22.4 million guaranteed?
Inside, [center Roberto] Garza can suffice, but there are concerns about the guys flanking him. Outside, [tackle J'Marcus] Webb should be better on the right than he was on the left, but a change in position does not denote a change in talent. With slow, heavy feet, he will still need help in pass protection. There’s not much depth here either; [Ebon] Britton brings position versatility, but he was bad wherever he lined up in Jacksonville last year. That was likely the function of injuries, but those injuries have been the defining mark of his career.
The sad conclusion: despite continued changes, the Bears are liable to still have a lot of the same blocking issues and play-calling restrictions that have hindered them in recent years.
Anyone who manages to continue on to the defense is going to read a lot more positive comments. He also says some nice things about Matt Forte that I whole heartedly agree with.
But that isn’t what I’ll hear about. What I’ll hear is that the Bears haven’t even drafted yet and Benoit is (and by proxy I am) already trashing them. I’ve heard it all before. I’ll hear it years from now again during another shiny new offseason.
So those of you who don’t want to hear it in April, go ahead and get your hopes up. But be warned. Come September, these future issues are going to be present reality and no amount of positivity will hide them then. And its going to make your disappointment all the greater.