On the John
Tales from the depths of the sports sewer
Originally completed November 23, 2009
I am a different sports fan than I was three years ago. I have…matured, let’s call it…into a fan of peace and calm. A such-is-life, it’s-just-a-game, enjoy-it-now and leave-it-all-behind sports fan. That is me. That is 28-year-old Jack.
It was Super Bowl XLI that set me down this path, followed by the 2007 “unfinished business” season that closed with my team finished.
It was also the 2007 sweep to the Diamondbacks, followed by the 2008 “100-year anniversary” season that swept us swift to one hundred one.
That was the idea, anyway.
And so far, in this filthy and unfinished year of Chicago Bears football, I have been stable. Incredible! No screams and shouts from ol’ Jacky boy. No broken remotes or obscenity streams or public tantrums. No Sundays ruined. Not by football. Not for me.
There has been cause for alarm, of course. In Atlanta, it was a pair of goal line fumbles and two false starts on a potential game-tying drive. In Cincinnati, it was a 45-10 downpour of defensive diarrhea complicated by waves of physical abuse from the former Bear-bust Benson. Against Arizona, we watched horrified as a mercy field goal that would have made the score 28-10 at half time was blocked and returned 59 bloomin’ yards to set up a Cardinals’ field goal, the post-rape paper cut, as it were. And on an otherwise pleasant Thursday night in San Francisco, it was five interceptions from Our Star and Savior Jay Cutler and a 10-6 loss to the three-and-five 49ers, a serious de-pantsing on national television.
All four of those games sent me scanning my vast sewer system of Bears bungles in search of “the last time we pissed the bed quite so bad.” In the Lovie Era alone, we have the leave-from-ahead losses against Carolina and Tampa during consecutive weeks in 2008; the “Rex is no longer our quarterback” debacle to the Cowboys in Week 3 of the Unfinished Business campaign; the grossly inept Shoulda-Coulda Bowl in that hideous Miami rain; the combined 46-8 losses to the Jags and Texans in 2004…
Those games left me crippled—shaking with Bears Rage. This year? I saw the Atlanta and Arizona games as opportunities for writing. Left the bar in delirious laughter after the Niners game. The Great Bengals Debasement, so bizarre and unthinkable, inspired me to pen a tale of the macabre in which my dead grandmother phoned from the grave just to commiserate.
My newfound life and sports perspective had succeeded! Those games were cause for art, or comedy, or imagination: anything but the frustrating pain so often delivered.
But Verbal Kint was right. A man can’t change what he is. I see this now, dripping from the rank, vile, nefarious slime of a loss so ugly it smashed my well-constructed “I-don’t-care-about-sports” shell.
What the %$@# was that??!!!
WHAT…THE %$@#…WAS THAT?
Was that really a serious attempt at winning a football game? Did a just-off-the-scrap-heap tailback really outgain our starter on just one carry, his first in the NFL? Did our quarterback really overthrow our receivers on three certain touchdowns by about ten yards each time? Did that same quarterback really average four freakin’ yards per pass attempt? Did our offensive coordinator really dial up a wide receiver screen on 3rd and 11? Did a quarterback fresh off an 18-month prison stint and a rookie running back with 86 career attempts really combine for 133 rushing yards and the game-winning score? Did we really win the turnover battle three to one while only collecting a single field goal off of those three turnovers? Did Jay Cutler really end consecutive games with an interception on a would-be game-winning drive?
Cutler’s season continues to fascinate me. This guy is quietly piecing together a career year for Bears quarterbacks. He is on pace to break the franchise single-season marks for completions, attempts, yards, and completion percentage, and is only five off the touchdown pace, three off the interception pace. In the post-McMahon era, he is one of only two Bears quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards three times in a season. He is the team’s second-leading rusher behind Forte. His (completed) deep balls to Hester and Knox and his bullets to Olsen, Bennett, and Kellen Davis have been remarkable. He has chucked a collection of terrifically horrendous picks. He has absorbed some incredibly vicious hits without missing even one snap.
To summarize, Jay Cutler is physically the most impressive quarterback I have ever seen in a Bears uniform, and there’s no point in even selecting a second place because that player would be miles removed from Number 6.
Those Good Cutler moments have usually been enough to leave me smiling, regardless of how many other blunders he made or what the scoreboard said. But now, after a fifth sewer system loss, all I can feel is that long-dormant pain.
My Bears are back.
Copyright 2009, jm silverstein
Some stats concerning this column, among other items…
300+ yard games in the post-Ditka era
|Miller, 1999||24-27 vs. Min||34||48||422||3||1||70.8%||8.79||109.9|
|Griese, 2007||31-34 vs. Min||26||45||381||3||2||57.8%||8.47||89.2|
|Kramer, 1998||28-31 vs. Min||25||39||372||4||1||64.1%||9.54||118.8|
|Cutler, 2009||21-41 vs. Ari||29||47||369||3||1||61.7%||7.85||98.6|
|Matthews, 2001||27-21 vs. Cle||30||50||357||2||3||60.0%||7.14||70.2|
|Miller, 1999||23-20 @ SD||25||38||357||1||0||65.8%||9.39||104.8|
|Kramer, 1997||15-23 vs. NYJ||32||60||354||2||3||53.3%||5.90||61.4|
|Miller, 2002||21-34 vs. GB||27||49||353||3||3||55.1%||7.20||72.9|
|Kramer, 1995||35-32 vs. Hou||24||41||349||2||2||58.5%||8.51||82.3|
|Kramer, 1997||36-33 @ Mia||32||50||343||2||0||64.0%||6.86||97.3|
|Grossman, 2006||34-31 vs. TB||29||44||339||2||0||65.9%||7.70||104.3|
|Orton, 2008||34-7 @ Det||24||34||334||2||0||70.6%||9.82||121.4|
|Griese, 2007||19-16 @ Phi||27||41||322||1||0||65.9%||7.85||97.8|
|Kramer, 1995||28-35 @ GB||23||38||318||2||1||60.5%||8.37||94.0|
|Kramer, 1995||28-34 @ STL||27||38||317||4||0||71.1%||8.34||131.1|
|Kramer, 1994||16-21 @ Det||29||48||309||2||3||60.4%||6.44||67.1|
|Cutler, 2009||6-10 @ SF||29||52||307||0||5||55.8%||5.90||33.1|
|Harbaugh, 1992||31-14 vs. TB||13||26||304||2||1||50.0%||11.69||102.1|
|Stenstrom, 1998||22-48 @ Min||25||42||303||1||1||59.5%||7.21||79.8|
|Harbaugh, 1991||19-13 vs. NYJ||28||42||303||1||0||66.7%||7.21||95.6|
|Tomczak, 1989||47-27 @ Det||17||25||302||2||0||68.0%||12.08||135.8|
|McNown, 1999||28-10 vs. Det||27||36||301||4||2||75.0%||8.36||113.3|
|Cutler, 2009||14-21 @ Atl||27||43||300||2||2||62.8%||6.98||79.6|
Bears single-season passing marks
COMPLETIONS: Kramer 1995, 315…Cutler pace, 376
ATTEMPTS: Kramer 1995, 522…Cutler pace, 610
YARDS: Kramer 1995, 3838…Cutler pace, 4038
TD: Kramer 1995, 29…Cutler pace, 24 (tied for 3rd with Luckman ’47 and behind Luckman ’43)
INT: Luckman 1947, 31…Cutler pace, 29 (2nd place)
COMPLETION %, minimum 300 attempts: Harbaugh 1993, 62.4%…Cutler, 62.7%
PASSER RATING, min. 300 att: Bukich 1965, 93.7…Cutler 74.5 (way behind)
Single-game passing marks in the Lovie era
34, Griese 2007, 27-37 @ Det
29, CUTLER 2009, 6-10 @ SF
29, CUTLER 2009, 21-41 vs. Ari
29, Grossman 2006, 34-31 vs. TB
Cutler then has two games with 27 completions, tied with Griese’s two, giving Cutler four of the top eight spots
52, CUTLER 2009, 6-10 @ SF
52, Griese 2007, 27-37 @ Det
47, CUTLER 2009, 21-41 vs. Ari
Cutler has one more in the top eight, tying him with Griese
COMPLETION % (below are the only 70% games)
79.3%, Grossman 2006, 41-10 @ SF
77.8%, CUTLER 2009, 25-19 @ Sea
74.1%, Grossman 2006, 34-7 vs. Det
71.4%, Griese 2007, 17-6 vs. Oak
71.1%, CUTLER 2009, 17-14 vs. Pit
70.6%, Orton 2008, 34-7 @ Det
70.3%, CUTLER 2009, 10-45 @ Cin
PASSER RATING: Cutler has not done quite as well here, with only two in the top ten (no. 3 and 10). Grossman has 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9.
YARDS: Bears QBs have only thrown for 300+ yards seven times in the Lovie era. Griese with 381 in the Peterson v. Hester game, Cutler with 369 in the Arizona game, Rex with 339 against Tampa in ’06, Orton with 334 against Detroit in ’08, Griese with 322 in the 97-yard drive win against Philly, and then Cutler with 307 and 300 against San Fran and Atlanta.
TD: Bears QBs have only tossed three TDs in a game in the Lovie era eight times. Rex is the only one to throw for four (in one of the Detroit beatings, 2006 edition). The others belong to Rex (twice), Cutler (twice), Griese, Hutchinson, and Orton.
INT: Bears QBs have thrown at least four picks in a game in the Lovie era five times, with Cutler and Orton sharing the mark with five picks. Cutler is the only person on that list twice.
With 511 yards on 40 catches, Earl Bennett is on pace to break Michael Timpson’s 1996 record for most receptions (62) and most yards (802) without a receiving touchdown. Bennett is currently on pace for 64 catches and 817 yards.
The loss to Arizona two weeks ago was the first time in at least the past ten seasons that four Bears have gained at least 70 yards in one game. Hester (6 for 94), Bennett (7 for 93), Forte (6 for 74), and Olsen (5 for 71 and 3 scores). The last time two Bears gained 100 yards receiving was in a 2002 20-17 overtime win over Detroit (AKA the Marty Mornhinweg game) when Marty Booker caught 10 passes for 157 yards and Dez White caught 8 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.)
The last season that started with legit playoff hopes and featured five sewer system losses was 2002. I am including the Saints game, the Bills game, the first Packers game, the first Lions game, the Patriots game, and the Tampa game, with special bonus points for reeling off an 8 game losing streak after a flimsy 2-0 start.