Bernstein: Season’s Storylines To Converge Sunday

By Dan Bernstein–

Prominent aspects of this year’s Bears discussion are winding together for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Patriots at Soldier Field.

It is the rare regular-season game truly worthy of our hype and expectation – as important both locally and league-wide as any in memory. Here are three themes that will be merging as the icy winds whip Soldier Field’s newly-replaced sod:

Lovie Smith came into the season teetering. Fans fatigued by both lukewarm results and his anodyne persona were rooting for him to fail, in an effort to force stodgy owners to clear him out, perhaps along with GM Jerry Angelo.

But then funny things happened, as calls, injuries and outcomes began to benefit the Bears. Wins have been compiled, even if in unspectacular or unconvincing fashion. Smith’s stubborn belief in his defensive system has been vindicated by its performance. Angelo’s desperate acquisition of Julius Peppers did nothing less than give them the NFL’s most dominant defensive end.

A win over Bill Belichick would be a win for both coach and personnel boss. Smith is not the type to explicitly direct his critics to kiss a certain body part of his, but he would be able to do so.

The offensive coordinator rescued from exile got his chance to get his pass-happy freak on, but was chastened after his pet plays could not be blocked. Though he arrived after stints in two other cities soured and ended amid conflict over run/pass balance, a similar concern here appears to have been resolved peacefully, if perhaps temporarily.

In Belichick, Mike Martz confronts an old nemesis – a defensive strategist who defeated the Greatest Show On Turf in the Super Bowl. That loss clearly stings Martz, as evidenced by his defensiveness this week when asked about it.

That nerve is still raw, and whatever has been used to suppress his big-play instincts will be tested, regardless of weather conditions.

Thirdly, Jay Cutler’s recent play is showing that he is shrinking the gap between his limitless talent and the on-field results. Behind a largely ineffective offensive line, Cutler has been more efficient and more elusive, raising his passer rating to a franchise-record 92.8 while being sacked more than any other quarterback in the league.

Questions surrounded the team’s commitment to him after an erratic first season, and complications arose in his acclimation to his third offense in three years. The answers since the Bears’ off week have all been positive.

His counterpart Sunday might be the NFL MVP. Tom Brady seems to never make a mistake, and sets the standard for awareness, risk calculation and emotional control. Everything fans want Cutler to emulate will be on the same field.

We say a lot of things about Bears games, spending weekday afternoons describing the pending drama and significance of whatever the upcoming Sunday may bring.

This game pits the 10-2 Patriots against the 9-3 Bears. The league’s top franchise travels to meet a team looking for a win that would likely punch its playoff ticket.

This one merits all the talk.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    Good blog Bernsie…….feels good for December football to matter.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    OK Spaulding! you won with your 13 confidence points on the Indy Dolts last night.
    Gomer had a 300+ yards game with 2 TDs and yet the Dolts almost blew a 21-point lead to win by 2.
    I feel bad for Gomer this year, due to injuries he is a one man band.


      Thanks Chet’s I.E.
      The nagging thing about the AFC is that, in the box scores, they look like one-dimensional, or no-dimensional teams. I can’t name one team that has a good offense and defense (Unless the Jets just had a hiccup against the, yeesh, New England Patriots.
      San Diego can drift into the nether regions of failed expectations along with Cincinnati and, (blecch) Houston.
      They really look vulnerable to a strong NFC opponent this year, and we won’t know until 6:50p.m. Sunday for sure

  • bigtime sucker

    when was the last time chicago had the Marquee matchup in every active sport over a 3 day span like we have this weekend?
    We have the LakersvBulls and if our preformance in LA in which we were yes outtalented and outlasted but not neccessarily outplayed is any indication, this could be a very entertaining and close game. But no doubt, the eyes of the league are on chicago this weekend.

  • bigtime sucker

    anytime the hawks play the sharks, it’s a marquee matchup. there is playoff history, these are the two best reg. season teams from a year ago. they have bad blood but a ton of talent. we are finding ourselves despite being talent descimated. but still it’s a marquee match up and one if i can, i will find myself watching

  • bigtime sucker

    and Bears vs Patriots. The bears are ratings gold when they play well and this should be interesting. The bears need to turn this game into a knock down drag out fight. Make them earn everything. The Patriots have what Guerlilla Monsoon used to call, that excellence of execution. And very often, they leave a game with clean uni’s which is amazing. we need to dirt them up, rough them up and disrupt their execution. They still may win, but we need to give them something to think about. I think we can win but not sure we will. Our offense needs to convert 3rd downs. I think if we can do that and hold onto TOP, we have a great chance of winning. Our d will give up yards but where i loose confidence is in our goalline d. they execute better in the red zone than anyother team and we need to contain that. force them to try to score from beyond the 20 yard line and bait them into turnovers. I woudl love to see an early forced fumble to set a tone and get under their skin. they haven’t had a TO in 4 games, we need to change that within the first quarter and i think we can.

  • bigtime sucker

    one other thing, Jon Kruk might be in trouble at booyah. He didn’t say anything contreversial to US or sexist or racist but he totally went against company policy when he said that the white sox have had as good of an offseason as the yankees and redsox. he even ranked them third in his “power rankings” Jon, don’t you know that that’s not cool over there? You rebel. I will say, spending what 90 million on three players was a better result than the redsox spending 140 for crawford. You add 40 homeruns, keep your 40 from konerko and simultaniously hide dunn’s glove and keep AJ who better or worse keeps the team loose and handles the staff pretty darned well, and can get a big hit in tough situations. Kenny br@$$b@ll$ you are my new favorite GM

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      took brass-ball for Kruk to say that

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        Anyone remember Krukie as a White Sox DH at the end of his career?
        He literally took himself out of a game, in the middle of the game, about mid-season and retired from baseball as the only player to retire while a game was still going on.

        Kruk is about the only breath of fresh air on Booyah (though I enjoy Buster Olney and Jon “Boog” Sciambi).

  • Jon, Montgomery

    if the bears beat the patriots Sunday, the bears are the best team in the NFL. and I’ll fully back them as a great team and a super bowl contender.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    I don’t know if they would be the best team in the NFL, they haven’t really had a tough road game yet.

  • Orton For MVP

    Cutler will show his true colors against the Patriots. The Bears made a big mistake trading Kyle Orton.

    • Steve

      Oh yes. Didn’t he just get his head coach fired?

      • Orton For MVP

        Worst defense in the league got him fire, not Kyle Orton.

      • Denver Smeghead

        “Worst defense in the league got him fire, not Kyle Orton.”

        Worse defense in the league got Shanahan fired, not Jay Cutler.

        Let’s not lose sight of the facts here.

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        just to confirm what Smeg posted, last year the Redskins had a decent Defense (ranked in the middle of the league, like 15th or so) and now in his first year in DC Old Plastic Face has his new 3-4 Defense ranked dead last in the NFL.

        That, my friends, is not a coincidence.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        don’t even pay attention to orton, he is either the real Kyle orton or he’s joking around, because nothing he ever posts is ever true.

  • AT3374

    Looking forward to the game this Sunday . Bears will win in a close one since they have been getting all the breaks even two against the Lions this year .

    Ditka…sausages ….Ditka …………….

    • Mike Ditka


  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    Makes no sense Jon, it was a legit blog topic for a couple of posts.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    Now my two related posts (this one too) are hung up in space with no context, like I’m smoking crack and posting or something.

  • bigtime sucker

    yeah weird blog day it’s acting funny it seems,

  • Jon, Montgomery

    LISTEN, whenever you respond to a post, it goes underneath, if the post you responded to gets taken away because of something the score deems ‘inappropriate’ then you post that was underneath goes to the bottom of the blog, plain and simple.

    and i know it wasn’t an ‘inappropriate’ topic! i’m telling the score website that they’re a bunch of goody-two-shoes by not letting us talk about what we want.

  • Mike in Davenport

    The New York Daily News is reporting that Jen Sterger won’t pursue litigation against Brett Favre, the Jets or the NFL as long as Goodell suspends Favre and institutes a sexual harassment policy.


    I hope this shuts up the people that claim that Sterger is just in this for money.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    is anybody else seeing the snowflakes on the blog page? it’s snowing on the computer! LOL

  • bigtime sucker

    actually allowing/firing his successful d-coord. after last year+disinfranchising cutler, marshall and trading away peyton hillis had a lot to do with it. the taping thing had a lot to do with it as well. Josh McDaniel is such a D-BAG, that i think he would be the perfect candidate in Gainesville FL for the gators head coach

    • Jon, Montgomery

      i’m surprised Josh McD0cheBag didn’t get fired sooner.

    • bigtime sucker

      help me out people. my brother lives in gainesville and is upset about meyer leaving. i have been a florida fan all my life and despite them winning to Nat. tiltes my gator love dissapates every year, starting when zook was over there(imagine my torture being in champaign) but it’s not so much that i didn’t like urban meyer, it’s the shotgun spread read zone offense that i hate. i just can’t stand to watch it. it’s get the snap, punch the ball in the belly of the ball carrier and depending on reaction of defense, you either pull it back and run, throw or let him keep the ball. to me, this is tough to watch, anyone agree?

      • bigtime sucker

        i want my next gator coach to have a more traditional offense, playing behind center most of the game running either a purdue style spread or a west coast play action style offense or heck, just rehire spurrier. I think the shotgun read zone spread option kills QB’s, but my brother says the object is to win not prepare people for the next stage in life(for a florida QB that should be the NFL)who is right?

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        Unless I am having a total brain-fart, I think that Rex is the Florida QB to have enjoyed the most success at the NFL level.
        I used to enjoy Tiller’s offense at Purdue, basketball on turf.


    I don’t think the snow will be the story as much as the dropping temperatures & strong winds. As a result, the Patriots/Bears’ game Sunday becomes a defensive struggle and a low scoring taffy pull on the Lakefront. As much as I would love to see the Bears’ offense run the football, control time of possession and defensively pressure QB Tom Brady in CBS Sports’ marquee game of their doubleheader, I have this bad feeling the Patriots find a way to win on the road and put the Bears in their place. Sorry, Bears fans. I think Jim Nantz & Phil Simms call a 17-14 New England road win.

    • bigtime sucker

      i have stopped worrying about who is calling the game, although i haven’t learned as much from sims as i have from aikman about football. actually i have learned a lot listening and watching jaws on the booyahh, moreso from countdown than MNF, but even on MNF i have learned something. I know vangundy jackson and mike bream will call tonight’s bulls game on the booyahh but i enjoy hubie brown better because i have learned A TON about basketball listening to him annaylize

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        I agree with you about Hubie Brown.

        I like it when Sam Rosen calls the game because Bernsie does his Sam Rosen impersonation and that is a hoot.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        the ESPN NBA 1st team broadcast is awful, the ‘breen, jackson & van gundy’ broadcast team, the other one with hubie sn’t bad, but i find myself turning off the volume when breen takes the headset for my wednesday and friday NBA action, and jackson and van gundy are awful, they don’t even comment about the actual game, they just talk about how the lakers and celtics matchup with each other.

        ESPN could certainly get some better broadcast people. that’s for sure.

  • bigtime sucker

    i just made a completly inoccuous post about josh mcdaniel, no foul language nothing even contreversial, and it was zapped. in the words of vince lombardi,”what the hell is going on here?”

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Strange, really strange today.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        i noticed somebody on the ron santo page that was pretending to be matt spiegel, and ‘matt’ was posting some really offensive things abour ron santo, since then they’ve been taken down, but i think that might be the reason for the extra security today.

        by the way, it wasn’t spiegel, i texted the show and he said it wasn’t him.


      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        Thanks Jon.
        The day that Ron Santo died, the same thing happened only Meatpants himself posted on the Santo-news-blog that any previous comments were not by him but were by an imposter.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        i too saw those messages ‘matt’ posted on the day santo died. they were very cruel. i’m glad it wasn’t really spiegel.

        but that’s pretty low, even for timmymac. i wonder if it’s even him, but whoever did it is a sick person.

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        can’t imagine why he/she/it would have picked on Meatpants for that, he seems like a nice guy (even though I PTFB whenever the parody songs start)

      • Jon, Montgomery

        the parody songs are okay with me, but they have made some bad ones. and this years ’12 days of bearsmas’ have sucked so far.

        by the way, i’ve been listening to the mac show alot more the past few weeks, i didn’t like mac and spiegs together when they first started back on the score last year, but now i’ve started listening regularly and i really like their show.

        and also, my opinion of the Joe-O & Rock show has sadly been changed, their show is almost un-bearable to me and i’ve been skipping it, i’m not sure what has changed or if it’s just me, but i certainly don’t recommend it anymore.

        i do recommend abbatacola and goff, their respective solo shows are awesome.

  • meesohawnee

    Yea Jon mont i see snowflakes. Damn nice to know. i thought it was from the shrooms i had last night.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      yeah, I thought my eyes were going wacko the first time. but I guess the score Is just doing it in the holiday spirit. but there are snowflakes.

  • Beardy McWierdington

    This blog blows, the Score should go back to having there own website!! When are they going to post some of Terry’s Rules and TB Diddlers? They said they were going to, along time ago.

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      I also wish they’d post podcasts of Matt and Jason’s shows.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      finally Beardington! (by cracky!) something I agree on with you.

  • Beardy McWierdington

    Brig back Murph!! He’s new and improved, with even more Cubs talk!!

    • Jon, Montgomery

      I imagine they might bring back murph to do a 2-hour cubs-sox special broadcast like they did last season.

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        Nope…Murph sued the Score over his contract/non-compete.
        Someone told me that he was on the Afternoon Spittoon to discuss Ron Santo.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        really? hahaha, good ole murph. at least we won’t be hearing from him ever again! lol

  • Murph

    I sue those who break contracts. nobody shall cross Mike Murphy!

    • Denny Craine

      I llove how the boys ended the show, with the Murph soundbite. Thats gold

  • Jon, Montgomery

    something that hasn’t been mentioned alot today, bulls-lakers tonight! i’ll definately be watching. rose is playing the best PG in the league right now. i think the bulls will win an exciting game.

    by the wa.. (whoa! these snowflakes are flying across the comment box!), by the way, i figured out that the magic suck, and i’d like to apologize to bulls fans for ripping them after the magic blew them out. the bulls aren’t as bad as i made them seem and i’ll root for the bulls whenever they’re not playing orlando.

    • bigtime sucker

      DUDE, don’t ever appologize for liking a team, that’s just weak!!! be proud, they will be there in the end, they might not win it, but they will be a factor. i don’t “like” the magic but i respect them, they win ballgames and are well coached and have many pieces that can either cause them to go deep now or trade away for somebody else later, and the scarey thing is dwight howard has a lot of improving to do still especially on the offensive end. so be a magic fan, don’t be ashamed. B YO SELF

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Wilbon’s column today on Booyah was about how much Kobe respects that DRose has worked his butt off to improve (shooting 3s etc.).

      Yup, should be a fun game.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        i like michael wilbon alot, he might be the only sane person at booyah

  • Jon, Montgomery

    and i don’t know about you guys, but i love watching a good football game in the snow, bernsy was just saying that he doesn’t believe snow should effect a game with playoff implications should be hindered by weather, but i’m going to love this bears-pats game sunday. might get messy, but it will be a great game.

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