By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Greetings, loyalists of the Monsters of the Midway,
Ah, the air grows crisper. The leaves on trees begin to form a bold pattern commonly relegated to couches in the 1980s. The Chicago Bears are a mess. That must mean NFL football is back. Ain’t it grand?
We, your NFC North division mates, just want to give y’all and your favorite team big props for laying the groundwork for ensuring that you are the cousin at the get-together that drunkenly insults someone’s spouse and makes a lewd gesture in the family photo. Because dang if the Bears aren’t a mess.
Defensive stalwart Jeremiah Ratliff is suspended for the first three games, but at least those are just against the measly Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. They’re probably all out of playoff juice, right? Pass rushes are overrated anyway. Jared Allen and his jersey euphemism in the new 3-4 defense is comforting.
That’s why you have last year’s first-round pick, Kyle Fuller. Who hasn’t been able to cover anyone in practice. And who got beat by T.Y. Hilton on a 45-yard completion for which Fuller — the guy who was unsuccessful on the play — was penalized for taunting. At least 32-year-old Antrel Rolle is the last line of defense next to the reliable … rookie Adrian Amos?
So the Detroit Lions, with the game’s best receiver and Golden Tate will eat your Charles Tillman-less secondary alive. What about it bothers the Minnesota Vikings’ Mike Wallace?
And then there’s Aaron Rodgers. Oh no, he lost Jordy Nelson. Yeah, and now he’ll get Davante Adams 1,000 yards while Randall Cobb stays a Pro Bowler.
And as the NFC North has moved away from the “black and blue division” to one of offensive fireworks, you Bears at the moment are missing your top four — top four — receivers. And one of them is this year’s first-round pick. We never want to see anyone get hurt, but your Kevin White situation can’t help but make us LOL.
Especially the way your Bears brass handled it. Nothing adds to personnel headaches like a local media turning on you, and the Bears from the get-go of training camp did just about everything they could to piss off every beat writer in town. Your organization is so oddly clandestine that it’s become like North Korea, but instead of the Chairman of the Central Committee being a cigarette-smoking monkey with a state-approved haircut, you have George McCaskey.
(And we know McCaskey has sublime judgment — Ray McDonald, the guy McCaskey judged worthy of representing his family name, had he not lost his Bears gig for really proving he’s a garbage person just two months after being signed, would have been cut this week for being indicted on a rape charge.)
The Bears’ media policy: “Hey, let’s not allow reporters to tweet pics and news about practice like it’s our nuclear program or something.”
Smooth move there.
But at least you can take comfort in coach John Fox — who’s made it clear he considers the media subhuman — calling every flippin’ injury situation “day-to-day.” Alshon Jeffery is day-to-day for the last 14-plus days with a calf issue. The Bears defense is day-to-day with a mild case of Shea McClellin potentially starting.
And don’t think we forgot about the quarterback situation — cannon arm, so much potential. Yeah, all that’s great. At the end of the day, the most important player on your team is Jay Cutler.
His poor decisions on the field combined with the occasional ability to be very good average him out at an average quarterback who is too often below that. His best receiving option at the moment, tight end Martellus Bennett, is the latest teammate to be perceived to think Cutty is lacking in the intangible we all so love to wax philosophical about: leadership.
This prompts questions to Jay about the teammate’s comments — just like when the same occurred with Brian Urlacher and Brandon Marshall and … well … you get it. Then Jay responds professionally, and fans continue to think he’s a jerk. Rinse, repeat.
Yet the most delicious irony is that he’s actually the best QB your franchise has ever had. And it’s not nearly enough. And your fans will never like him.
Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater is getting really good in Minnesota, and everybody loves him. The rest of the NFC North giggles at you because you have one player you drafted prior to 2012 on your roster — Matt Forte — and he’ll probably be an Oakland Raider or something next year.
So we, the rest of the division, just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate the laughable transition you made from the pet store fire that was the Phil Emery/Marc Trestman fiasco to these more mature, hard-nosed makings of a hospital fire. This smarter, stricter coaching staff will squeeze six wins out of this turnip in order to just miss out on drafting one of the best three potential franchise quarterbacks in the next draft.
Here’s to a fun season. For some of us, at least.
The NFC North
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.