Perhaps GM Jerry Angelo’s greatest flub, the abandonment of running back Thomas Jones after the 2006 Super Bowl season, in a misguided attempt to make then-recently drafted Cedric Benson the man, has played a large part in the Bears’ offensive troubles in the seasons since. Matt Forte is a strong back, to be sure, but as most NFL teams have moved to running-back tandems and away from classic featured backs, Forte is left with failed experiment Chester Taylor. (And before that Garrett Wolfe, and before that “the other” Adrian Peterson.) Can you imagine the Bears’ running game if we had held on to Jones? The trade for Jay Cutler, dare we say, may have been unnecessary. Numbers don’t lie—in the three seasons he played with the Jets after the Bears let him go, he rushed for 1,119 yards, 1,312 yards and 1,402 yards, respectively. Not only is that tremendous production, with each year the 32-year-old is improving. He also scored fourteen touchdowns last year. This season, for the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s threatening 1,000-yard production again and has five TDs. We honestly can’t elaborate any more right now, because it’s making us sick.
Best in Chicago 2010
Worth every penny. When the normally stingy Chicago Bears made a move on the free agent of the NFL off-season—a six-year, $91.5 million move, $42 million of which is guaranteed—to boost the team’s lackluster defensive line, some said the brass overspent on a player who, at 30 years old, could be past his prime. Peppers’ play over the last thirteen weeks has certainly quieted the doubters, with six sacks, thirty-four tackles and more pressure on the quarterback than we’ve gotten from our entire line since the Super Bowl year. (Hell, even Israel Idonije is having a good year. Those double-teams on Peppers have opened things up.) Peppers’ tipped-pass-and-interception against the Carolina Panthers in week five might be the best defensive play of the year—we haven’t seen pure athleticism like that from a Bears player in quite a while.
Best of Chicago 2010
Poor Rex. He’s tossed into a game in which the team is behind, leads us back to victory and still gets booed by Bears fans. We suspect he’ll remain in the NFL for a time after this season, likely his last with the Bears, but after his football career fizzles it may be good for him to give back to the community by offering guidance and counseling to those who’ve survived horrific experiences. Rex has been crucified in this town time and time again, and, in a lot ways, has bounced back every time. “Listen, I helped get the Bears to the Super Bowl,” he would say, “and the fans still hated me. Gotta keep your head up, son. Gotta keep on truckin’.”
Sitting on the sidelines
Audience Comments: “Greeter at Olive Garden”; “Hand model”;
“Throw rolls at Lamberts.”
Best of Chicago 2008
The absence of Ron Rivera
Last year’s defensive coordinator got his walking papers after we couldn’t stop the Colts running game in the Super Bowl, following weeks of Rivera interviewing with other teams for 2007 head-coaching positions and not paying enough attention to his current team who was currently in the playoffs. New coordinator Bob Babich seems focused, aggressive and absolutely angry, as do the rest of the Bears D.
Best of Chicago 2007
… and that’s not a bad thing. We have the greatest reverence for the Bears of Ditka and Buddy, the marauding, run-stopping, woofing butchers who trampled and emasculated everything in their path to the Super Bowl. There has never been a more powerful group of men or women assembled for a common purpose, excluding perhaps the Superfriends. Their majesty, their achievement, their stone-cold best-ever status, was so ridiculously complete that few of them have escaped the tether of their ’85 Beardom. Otis Wilson remains a Bear-for-hire, a link to the ineffable greatness of ’85, a walking, talking, smiling, hand-pumping ambassador from the best year of our lives. Need to open a local mall or a car dealership? Otis. Need one more celebrity to complete a foursome at a suburban pro-am? Otis. Need a motivational speech at your football camp in Mundelein? Oh yeah—Otis. He’s everywhere, reminding us of our glorious past and lending the fading light of his star to your company outing. Once a feared linebacker who eviscerated quarterbacks and mastered post-sack celebration, Otis has become the area’s greatest Otis Wilson impersonator… again, not a bad thing.
The Otis Wilson Foundation
3616 West 125th Street, Alsip
Best of Chicago 2002
Hopefully, we’ll never see him. On the heels of a playoff season in which the Bears racked up thirteen wins, and into the current season in which they’re looking for more of the same, we’re going to drop a cliché: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That said, by acquiring Chris Chandler to man the clipboard, the Bears have a back-up quarterback with Super Bowl experience and an arm just as strong as, if not stronger than, starter Jim Miller. The Bears didn’t change their winning formula much from a year ago, but if Miller happens to go down, Chandler could be the difference between a few wins and a few losses, which in the new NFC North could be all it takes for yet another playoff berth.
Audience choice: Brian Urlacher
Best of Chicago 2002