If ever wondered how the Chicago Tribune dropped to the worst coverage of the Chicago Bears in town, their reaction to the team’s first open Organized Team Activity is the answer.
If fans cared about anything from that practice it was the performance of Justin Fields vs. Andy Dalton. The Tribune‘s writers knew that, which is why they titled their 16-minute recap video “Justin Fields vs. Andy Dalton”. Then they spent the first six minutes spewing hot garbage about defensive players not showing up to the OTA practice. So much of what was said was complete and utter garbage, it’s hard to know where to start, but when they determined that this was evidence of some sort of horrendous team culture, it just was too much.
Early in the discussion, Dan Wiederer said the players not being there was “obviously an NFLPA-driven pushback on the addition of the 17th game on the schedule.”
Both noted that the Bears have typically had close to 100% attendance, but then Wiederer went into one of the worst rants you’ll ever hear.
“I just have a difficult time buying in to the notion that this is an organization filled with championship culture when the trophy case is void of championship trophies and there aren’t enough guys out there to justify this talk of championship-winning culture,” Wiederer said. “They can change our minds over time. But look, you are a football team that went 8-8 over the last two years.”
This would be the place for the facepalm emoji.
We can ignore, for a second, that the Bears actually have nine NFL championships — the second most in the league. None since the 1985 team, though, so whatever, I get it. But the entire idea that because they were 8-8 the past two years they can’t have a good culture is asinine. And Biggs agreed with him!
“(They’re) not real good, not real bad, not going anywhere real quick, that’s the culture,” Biggs said. “For them to describe their culture as being anything different is a load of crap. There’s certainly some people out there that will buy it, but B.S.”
Tampa Bay was 7-9 before they won the Super Bowl last year. 5-11 the two years before that. They went somewhere quick, didn’t they?
“Hey, the Bucs added Tom Brady! That’s not a fair example,” you might be thinking. Brady may be the ultimate culture changer and he hasn’t participated in OTAs since 2017. So if you’re going to try and tell me that OTAs are some sort of evidence of culture, well, it’s a load of crap, Brad. If you don’t believe me, ask Tom Fricken Brady.
In both the video and his column that came out the next day, Biggs mentioned that players should attend OTAs because they have to be accountable to their teammates. Which teammate does Khalil Mack have to be accountable to? Akiem Hicks? When nearly an entire starting unit is missing, doesn’t that tell you that they are unified? That they are being accountable to one another?
By Biggs’ own count, the Bears had roughly 78% of the players attending, which is higher than several teams had early in their programs. Of course, Biggs also noted that he couldn’t actually see how many players were on the field and Matt Nagy said that those who weren’t on the field participated virtually, so it isn’t as if they were completely MIA.
- Biggs made sure to point out that we really shouldn’t count Desmond Trufant because Trufant is competing for a starting position. He didn’t mention that the players he’s competing with were also in attendance. Unless the starting cornerback opposite Jaylon Johnson comes from outside, the team had at least two defensive starters.
- Biggs also made sure to say that Roquan Smith’s attendance should have an asterisk because “he’s trying to get paid.” But the likes of Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols — both of whom are in contract years — apparently, aren’t, by that logic. He said he doesn’t blame those two for not attending because they might get hurt in contract years. (So why go in on the organization’s culture?)
- There was also some junk about how the defense has a new coordinator and a new system, with Wiederer saying they had to be at the early-June OTA to “get themselves playing at a level that allow you to compete for championships.” Sean Desai, of course, isn’t completely new. He’s been in the building for longer than most of the players and his system is expected to be the same that most of the players excelled in in 2018 and not all that different from what they played in 2019 and 2020.
- With rants that made up about 10 of the 16 minutes in the video — in which they did not speak about Fields — perhaps the most telling statement was one that Biggs made fairly early on: “Will it make a difference when they get rolling in late-July, August in training camp? Probably not.” So, by your own admission, it probably won’t matter. Then what the hell are you doing other than intentionally trying to push a negative narrative?
That isn’t journalism.