This is going to be an interesting campaign; an exciting one I think. I think this Bears team is pretty darn good and I think they’re going to be the most exciting offensive unit we’ve seen at Soldier Field in twenty-plus years. (I’ll be making my full list of season prognostications this time next week.) But I think being a Bears fan in itself will be an interesting endeavor. Here are my four keys to surviving the experience:
HAVE PATIENCE WITH THE TACKLES
The second J’Marcus Webb or Gabe Carimi have a difficult afternoon, it’ll be met with a chorus of overreacting columns/blogs from David Haugh and Steve Rosenbloom. Don’t give it to their panic button mentality. The Bears may, may I repeat, have found their bookend tackles for the next decade. But it is rare for NFL teams, especially ones on the cusp of the Super Bowl, to be in the position of starting fresh faces at both positions. Even for the Hall of Famer, the NFL brings a learning curve. Bears fans must allow these two guys the time they need. The result may be years of stability.
KNOW THEIR WEAKNESSES
I don’t look across the starting roster of the Chicago Bears and see glaring weaknesses. It is when you go beyond the starting roster things get dicey. Brian Iwuh does not inspire confidence as the first linebacker off the bench, especially if he’s put in the position of replacing all-time Bears like Briggs and Urlacher. If Major Wright or Chris Harris miss an extended period, the Bears will be playing a sub-professional at safety. (Unless you’ve seen something from Conte I haven’t.)
EARLY SCHEDULE IS TOUGHEST ROAD
Home Falcons. At Saints. Home Packers. I know NFL schedules are impossible to predict as one injury can change the complexion of an entire team. (If Chase Daniel is starting for the Saints in Week 2, for example, it obviously becomes a must-win for the Bears.) But on initial glance the first three games of the Bears season look to obviously be the hardest stretch. Understanding that 0-3 does not spell doom for the 2011 season and 3-0 does not mean a guaranteed Super Bowl will be of the utmost importance for a fan base that likes to let their extreme emotions get the best of them. Survive it. Win a game or two. And move on.
AND ABOUT THE QUARTERBACK…
He’s good. He’s very good. And to this point he has not opened his mouth and said a word about the lack of a true number one receiver being available to him. Not a word. He has never blamed his offensive line for almost landing him in the morgue in 2010. Not once. He has never said, “It was easier to play quarterback inDenverwhen I had a running game.” Not ever. I don’t excuse his interception sprees or failures to throw the ball away and avoid unnecessary contact. But I know that if you look through the history of Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, it’ll be tough to find one who has achieved that goal with a mediocre head coach AND mediocre receiving corps AND mediocre offensive line. Cut the guy some damn slack.
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