By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Football is back. Let the goodness wash over you. Nothing else matters right now. Not baseball, not your job and not your family unless they are talking about training camp.
Not the multitude of ways the game disrespected women this week or why the first openly gay player in the NFL is news. None of those forced stories by the lamestream media matter because Bears training camp is full go. Our minds need to be focused on rash speculation and questioning a complex assembling of a cohesive unit that in hardly any way will resemble Week 1 what it does today. With that said, here are the truly important questions that most writers are too lazy to tackle with their heads down because they fear injuring their delicate journalistic spines. We need to conjure up answers to these during the time champions are made — seven-on-seven drills and fourth-string touchdowns.
Who will be the No. 2 quarterback to hopefully eventually replace Jay Cutler?
Cutler will never win the big one. His doesn’t have the eye of the tiger. I question his desire. Champions don’t drive conversion vans, am I right? Why didn’t Josh McGowan call or write me before leaving?
Anywho, if Cutler never returned from injury last year the Bears would have had the opportunity to lose in the playoffs. That can’t happen again this season. Too much on the line. When Cutler gets hurt this year, it has to be permanent. Such makes the battle between Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen so critical. I personally don’t trust gingers, and Clausen looks like an angry bird of prey that got punched repeatedly by Ray Rice, so his toughness is a plus. But here’s the rub — Kyle Orton. With all the hubbub surrounding LeBron quitting on Miami and returning home, the Bears could make a huge splash with this prodigal son. Think about it.
Is Patrick Mannelly’s retirement a tipping point?
Cutler will probably lead this team to a lot of field goals before he tears his ladyparts again. Do we want a newbie with his finger on the long-snapping button? To be honest, with this team potentially on the cusp of winning a title, I find it pretty selfish of Mannelly to quit. George Blanda long-snapped at the age of 85. If Mannelly was still playing for Ditka, he’d have been publicly shamed and rightly so.
Sidenote: Mannelly is supposedly going to be contributing to this site this year. This changes the 670TheScore.com Handsome Writer Rankings:
5. The reprints from the Associated Press
6. The rest
Are Phil Emery and Marc Trestman robots laying the groundwork for the eventual revolution of the machines on humanity?
Chris Tannehill bravely broke down the secret subliminal patterns of the opening training camp press conference, which is otherwise a pretty stimulating time if you enjoy being talked to dirty in muted repetition. But after listening to the Bears general manager and coach have the fat stripped away, it’s got me thinking they are possibly cyborgs. Trestman is obviously really smart and doesn’t have mammalian hair. Any robotics expert knows that robots have trouble keeping up with modern fashion trends, and to see Emery at a podium, you’d think he was giving a briefing for NASA in the early 1960s.
And why won’t the team practice in the rain? Mmm hmm … if Tannehill doesn’t show up to work today, be suspicious.
Is this the year Alshon steps up and changes his last name to Jeffries?
The time is now, man.
How many carries will Matt Forte lose to Jordan Lynch?
We cried out for so long to #PayForte, and the Bears did, which means he’s getting increasingly complacent and less hungry. Lynch has a chip on his shoulder after not winning a conference championship in the Thunderdome that is the MAC and carrying the hopes and dreams of Mt. Greenwood, a South Side neighborhood we both call home, on his shoulders.
Lynch can help keep Forte fresh and be a nice change of pace back because defenses will be like, “Whoa, you’re not black.” A robot like Trestman is incapable of appreciating feel-good stories, but it knows strategy.
When can we go back to blaming the offense for the Bears’ woes because it fits a narrative better?
Peanut Tillman and Briggs are a year older and wiser. That’s a bonus. In total, the D will probably have seven starters age 30 or older, and I will always side with veteran leadership in a game that exponentially ages a person’s body. Urlacher said the other day that he still talks to people on the team that he wants to talk to (Brian probably doesn’t have the number to Cutler’s carphone in the middle console of that van), so he’s basically like an extra coach but in the shadows. Cyrano de BEARgerac, if you will.
But with the additions of guys like Jared Allen and moving Shea McClellin to linebacker like they should’ve done with Chris Zorich years ago, I see no reason the 31st-ranked scoring defense of 2013 can’t be top five this year. And Bears football is just better when it’s not the prima donnas like Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Tony Fiammetta getting all the glory. I would begrudgingly take a team that puts up 45 points in Phoenix in February, but Super Bowls are better when grinded out and won at home. Make it happen, Rahm, if you want re-election.
If I had to nitpick, I had never heard of any of the defensive guys they drafted, so that’s a question mark.
How much will the Bears regret letting Devin Hester walk away?
And that’s walk, not run, which he does historically well. Pretty hard to deny Devin is the reason the Falcons landed the coveted Hard Knocks at their camp. If the Bears ever want to get big market exposure, they will be loyal to famous names (cough cough, Urlacher, cough) and not pay guys like Jerry Reinsdorf.
Keep all these things on your mental checklist as camp progresses. Pay attention to nothing else besides actual football.
See you on Sundays. And on Thursdays and Mondays.
You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.