I’m not one to put much stock in training camp reports. It’s a time of year when everything is sunshine and rainbows and unless you live in southern California, the sun doesn’t shine every day.
Having said that, I very much enjoyed Rich Campbell‘s report for the Chicago Tribune this morning. Of the “five observations” which he made on yesterday’s training camp session, three involved notable adjustments or corrections by individual players who had made previous mistakes. Right tackle Jordan Mills, who reportedly got beat like a drum by outside linebacker Pernell McPhee in one-on-one drills Sunday, stood up a lot better on Monday with what he said was better hand work. Safety Brock Vereen, who got beat previously on a gadget play, showed more awareness and stayed deep on on Monday to help break up a similar play. And finally second year cornerback Kyle Fuller made a play to break up a Martellus Bennett fade route, reportedly by keeping his eyes on the catch point. In addition, Dan Wiederer, also at the Chicago Tribune, notes that Tim Jennings, though still uncomfortable covering in the slot, is operating with noticably sharper vision and that he’s reacting much more quickly. And Dan Cahill at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that quarterback Jay Cutler is turnover free five days into camp.
These are all little things but they emphasize something that’s critically important for a young Bears defense in 2015. They may be talent poor but good football teams can make up for a lot by simply being fundamentally sound. You can’t make up for all of it. But you can make up for a lot of it. And you can reasonably expect to be competitive.
Having said that, Bears fans who think this might be a playoff team are fooling themselves. I’m not saying its impossible – anything is possible, especially in the NFL. But I think they are setting themselves up for disappointment. And that would be a shame.
Fans who believe that high expectations are necessary and that seasons without 10 wins are a failure are missing the point. Team victories on the field are nice and, of course, that’s the goal. But, no matter the talent level and no matter the expectations, the true football fan is going to have to find enjoyment in the small items this year. Bears players, like all the rest of us in our daily lives, will need to find their share of satisfaction in the little things, the day-to-day improvements as they gradually climb towards respectability and, eventually, top level competition. These wins are much more frequent than Super Bowls and if you are only going to be happy with the latter, you are going to be a pretty miserable soul.
In his classic work of fiction, The Prophet, author Kahlil Gibran wrote, “And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” This year, like every year, we will all find much more happiness if we take the time to note the small victories and enjoy them as often as possible.