My Open Letter to the Chicago Bears
Dear Chicago Bears
It is 3 am when I am writing this letter to you. Why you ask am I writing a letter at 3 am, because I cannot sleep. I cannot sleep because again I have watched you let the playoff slip away. I cannot sleep because as a Bears fan I am struggling to wrap my head around how again we find ourselves in what is becoming an uncomfortably common occurrence.
In the 7 seasons since the 2006 Superbowl you have been in the playoffs once, and yes I am counting this season as missing the playoffs. I am 30 years old, I do not have the luxury of wrapping myself in the 1985 Superbowl snuggy, mercifully I also do not remember the Wannstedt era. I do not have the luxury of looking back 28 years and remembering the good old days where the Bears were a consistently relevant charter franchise in the NFL. I do not have the luxury of remembering a time when the expectation was making the playoffs and when we did not celebrate when you simply were relevant heading into week 16 and 17. I do have the luxury of remembering making the playoffs once in 7 years and watching our arch rival Green Bay Packers come into Soldier Field and slap us around the NFC Championship game on their way to winning the Superbowl, wrap yourself in that snuggy and see how comforting it is. My most powerful playoff memory is the 2006 Superbowl where I watched our 1st round/3rd string QB throw the game away. It is not till now when I watch the greatness of Peyton Manning that I realize that you rolled out Rex Grossman, who does not even get a helmet on game days in Washington, against possibly the greatest QB ever.
You got us the franchise QB that we had never had, after sitting through McNown, Hutchinson, Quinn, Burris, and Stewart should I go on? Okay I will go on but only because you insist, Orton, Grossman, Mathews, Chandler, Kenzel, Miller, Moreno, Mirer, after all of that we had finally found the QB with the talent to raise the Bears up. Then you proceeded to surround him with no talent and no protection and beat him within a inch of his life. You talked about sprinkles and twists and allowed the JWebb Nation to rule with impunity. You took a franchise QB coming off of a Pro Bowl 4500 yard season with more talent than any QB the Bears had ever seen and 5 years later you turned him into a battered and beaten question mark. Only the Bears are capable of this feat. Only a team stuck in the offensive Stone Age could accomplish such a feat of QB mismanagement. It was like giving a 6 year old a Ferrari instead of hot wheels to play with.
After spending 20 years in the offensive Stone Age you finally hired an offensive coach who could fix the QB you came close to destroying, put together the most talented offensive skill position players in franchise history, fixed the OL, and started an offensive revolution the likes of which Chicago had never seen before. You had emerged from the darkness, you had risen from the muck, and we were all ready to compete in the modern NFL. This was an incredibly exciting time for fans who had long suffered through unwinnable games once the opposition scored 20 points or got a 2 TD lead. We as fans were ready, we were ready to give up the ghosts of the Monster of the Midway, and the 1985 season, we were ready to move on from defense wins Championships, because all we wanted was an actual championship. But most of all we were ready to pair an NFL offense with a defense that had been dominant for the last decade, because if we paired them together we would be seriously relevant for the first time since 2006. Things had finally come together, they had finally fallen into place, and you had everything that you needed to be a contender in the modern NFL.
It would be tragic or cruel, if it was not so ridiculous, that the moment you get an NFL offense your defense, the backbone of everything we have known as Bears fans for our entire lives, collapses, decays, falls apart and implodes to the point where they are pretty much on the field to embarrass themselves between water breaks. It would be tragic for a fan base to wait decades for an offense to finally get it, to see it run with precision and production by a journeymen back up, and then start losing games because of the defense. It could only be the kind of cruel trick that could be played on Bears fans. It feels like we were in a desert with no water and someone showed up and gave us the water we so badly wanted and needed, but at the same time they stole all our food, we are in the same place dying in the desert, but just with a different problem.
I cannot sleep because while this entire situation seems like something from a Shakespearean tragedy I am realizing that perhaps we are simply cursed. I am being facetious of course, but I am struggling to come up with a better explanation about how the Bears are 10 years late to an offensive revolution and somehow the defense falls apart the year we get to the offensive party. I wish I had a reasonable response to how this happened in between my cry laughing. People will point to injuries and they have had an impact, but a collapse from a top 5 defense to the worst defense in the NFL seems like more than a couple of key injuries could cause. Something bigger has to be at work here, something we cannot see or understand, some sort of cosmic force has set itself against you and your fans. Maybe a Bears team that combines all phases of football competently, not dominantly I do not need that, but competently is like a Unicorn, we can dream about what it looks like, but we are never destined to see it.
I am overwhelmed by my frustration and my embarrassment that you and I are going to watch the Lions represent the NFC North. I am frustrated that in a season that saw the Packers fall, the Bears could not seize the opportunity or take the open window and make the playoffs. It is as if you are afraid of success, even when things start to fall into place. I know I should be patient, but how patient can a fan base be expected to be. We were patient through the Kyle Orton, Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley offenses knowing that someday we may have the offense that could go with the Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman defense. Now we are supposed to be patient again as we sit through the Cohen, McClellin, Conte defenses now waiting for a real NFL defense to pair with the Cutler, Forte, Jeffery and Marshall offense. How much can a fan base be asked to sit through? Do we now wait 28 more years for you to get the defense fixed? I am having a son in a couple of months, if we are going to wait another 28 years before you can finally put an NFL offense and defense on the field at the same time than at least my son will be about my age and he will be old enough to appreciate what he is seeing, and maybe I will still be alive and with my faculties so that I can enjoy it as well. If not a balanced Bears team will continue to be the unicorn that runs through our dreams.
I will always love you.