By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) I watched the LSU-Wisconsin game last Saturday and was really entertained, but I didn’t feel like football was back.
As a Notre Dame fan, Sunday’s double-overtime loss to Texas was begrudgingly fantastic theater. Still wasn’t feeling like football season, though.
Thursday night’s NFL opener between the Panthers and Broncos was great (with the exception of reminding us that brains are dying in front of us), but it doesn’t feel like football yet.
Maybe it’s those darn Cubs and their winning and stuff. Maybe it’s the 90-plus degree temperatures this week. Maybe it’s that nothing about the local football barometer, the Chicago Bears, gives me the Pavlovian tinglies in my nether regions.
You’re not excited about the Bears. No, no, stop lying. Sure, you’re glad our terrible master, football, is back to take our time and money and moral negotiations. But the Bears specifically? What’s got you jacked up for this season?
That receiver Kevin White is ouchy again?
“Not being a surgeon or a doctor, they just tell me hamstring and that’s what I report to you guys,” coach John Fox said about White’s injury.
Oh, condescend me, daddy. I missed being talk down to for a whole season.
Timetable for White? Surely you jest, Bears fan.
“That’s hard to do, is put timelines on it,” Fox said. “Everybody’s different, everybody heals different. The severity of it is different. Rather than confusing a bunch of people, I just keep it basic.”
So for the second consecutive year, the 2015 first-round pick might be dead, might not be, might be somewhere in between.
Oh, you’re pumped about the defense. I want to be, too. Coordinator Vic Fangio is a really good coach and gets a lot out of his players. But this is still the defense that’s missing linebacker Pernell McPhee for at least the first six games. It’s the defense with issues in the secondary for what, the 37th straight season? It’s the side of the ball that traded up in the 2016 draft for edge rusher Leonard Floyd, of whom Fangio said this week:
“The best word has been choppy and inconsistent more from an availability standpoint. He’s about as ready as he can be, not if he had been all available in camp. But he’s ready to go.”
Fangio added that Floyd’s development has been “retarded.”
Your loins are just bursting, aren’t they?
Oh, wait, yeah, NEW KICKER. What’s his name? Barth? That’ll be really convenient to yell after missed field goals.
But the offensive line, right? Yeah, the Bears signed a Pro Bowler the Green Bay Packers cut in Josh Sitton. Because the Packers are known for making terrible personnel decisions. There’s a rookie at center for Chicago who might be better than the rookie center from last year shoulder-shrug-emoji?
“Right now, looking at it, I think it’s his best position,” Fox said of Cody Whitehair playing center. “Unfortunately, prior to the acquisition of Josh, we weren’t real fluid to put him there a whole lot, but he has had reps.
“(Whitehair is) very athletic. He understands the game. He plays it kind of beyond his years, as far as experience-wise. So we’re still early in the process. I don’t want to get too much into it yet, because we’re still proving ourselves.”
Oh, but the Bears signed guard Kyle Long to an extension. Nothing gets me hotter than O-lineman money.
Top receiver Alshon Jeffery might play 12 games. (Alshon Jeffries may even play more.) That’s something to hang our ‘85 mesh hats on.
Who’s returning kicks? Does it even matter? Such an air of mystery is stimulating.
And Jay Cutler as “The Beaver.”
We’re in Year 8 of listening to teammates say Cutler is “our guy” and defending him against incessant passive-aggressive questions seeking to get someone to bus-toss a capable quarterback who was good last season but who will never be loved because he rightfully doesn’t treat media or fans like they’re voting him into office. There will be more talk of Cutler’s viability as “a leader” (his teammates made him a captain this season), more critiques of his body language, more talk of his sixth offensive coordinator. To remember them, it’s the same mnemonic device as Henry VIII’s wives — divorced, executed, died, divorced, executed, alive.
Yet here’s the irony of my preseason rut: I don’t think the Bears are bad. Against rationality, I think they will win lots of games this season with the combination of luck, solid coaching and an easy schedule. I like Jeremy Langford. I expect the pass rush to be at least a something for once. I have a (probably really dumb) trust in offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains playing things close to the vest in the preseason and opening things up now that it counts. I think the Detroit Lions stink, the Minnesota Vikings got screwed and dug upward by trading for Sam Bradford and the Packers’ voodoo over the Bears has lessened recently.
And I think this is starting to sound like I’m talking into the camera like Bill Simmons.
Put me down for the Bears going 9-7 — with all the national pundits afterward saying it doesn’t feel like the Bears are a 9-7 team.
By then, I’ll be feeling football. But then it won’t feel like January already, ya know.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.