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12/3/2006
UN-”BEAR”-ABLY COLD WEATHER
CATEGORY: CHICAGO BEARS

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The last time the Bears played in cold weather, Urlacher & Co. manhandled Michael Vick and the Falcons 16-3 (December 17, 2005).

With game time temps expected to be in the teens and a stiff wind blowing off Lake Michigan, Soldier Field will be an icebox when My Beloveds take on the Vikes.

Termed “Bear Weather” by fans, history might say otherwise. My Beloveds are only 11-9 since 1983 when the temps fall below 20 degrees. But that hasn’t stopped fans from believing that when the thermometer falls, the team’s chances for victory shoot up.

Part of this is certainly the legendary playoff game against the Rams during the magical 1985 season. With Soldier Field in a deep freeze and a wicked wind whipping off the lakefront, few can forget Wilbur Marshall - by irony a Floridian - picking up a fumble and running it in for a score. As Marshall crossed the goal line, snow began to come down and the crowd went even wilder. Ever since then, Bear fans believe the team has a corner on arctic cold fronts.

The Vikes, of course, play in the Baggie Dome - a far cry from their own icy history when games played outdoors at the old Metropolitan Stadium were memorable not only for the superior teams that legendary coach Bud Grant would put on the field but also for a wind chill that made one forget they had extremities.

Playing in mind numbing cold is becoming a little rarer these days what with all the domed stadiums as well as several venues like Miami, Tampa Bay, and San Diego now hosting professional football. Don’t tell that to fans in Chicago, Green Bay, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, though. You’re liable to get an earful about how cold it can truly get at a football game - especially when your team is losing.

By last count, the entire population of Green Bay over the age of 45 was present for the famous “Ice Bowl” against Dallas played on December 31, 1967 for the NFL Championship. The gametime temp was reportedly 13 below zero. And to give you an idea of what kind of a hardass Vince Lombardi was, he refused to allow heaters on the sidelines. His counterpart, the gentlemanly Tom Landry, wasn’t quite so much of a hard case and allowed his players some relief from the brutal cold. The fact that Green Bay won the hard fought game 17-13 has enshrined cold weather at Lambeau Field and made it a fixture for Packer fans.

As for the Vikings game today, My Beloveds are coming off that disappointing loss to New England last week and there appears to be trouble in Bearland. Given Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman’s inconsistency this year, shouldn’t Lovie sit the kid and play backup QB Brian Griese? The sports talk shows and newspaper columns have been full of this nonsense all week and reminds me why I stopped reading the sports page and listening to sports radio years ago.

Wonder Dog has started exactly 18 games in his professional career. It used to be that young quarterbacks were projects. They didn’t play until at least their second and usually third year. But when you draft a kid out of college and are paying him $6 million a year (along with a hefty signing bonus), pressure comes early to put the kid in to see what he can do.

In Wonder Dog’s case, he hurt himself seriously twice over the previous two years which severely limited his development. But this never seems to matter to the know it all callers and know nothing columnists who are calling for back up Brian Griese to take the snaps.

The fact is - and anyone who has half a brain or who has been watching pro football for 40 years can tell you - the Bears will not win a Superbowl with Brian Greise at QB. Wonder Dog not only has loads of raw talent, but also commands the respect of his teammates for his leadership skills. He also has a burning desire to win and the one ineffable quality that transcends all the others; a presence, an air about him that marks him as a winner.

At this point in his development, Wonder Dog is inconsistent - wildly so. But looking back over this season, he has proven much:

* He has shown that he won’t let a bad game get to him. He has always followed a bad game with a good game.

* He has shown that he can recover during the course of a game. He had a horrible first half against the Giants and played a superior game in the second half.

* He has proven he has what it takes to come from behind and engineer a winning drive late in the game (Minnesota).

* He has proven to be fearless in throwing the ball downfield, a welcome change from the previous occupants of the QB hole.

* His ball handling skills are jaw dropping, sometimes even fooling the TV camera.

* He is the first Bears QB in a two generations to have found out that a tight end plays on our team.

With Wonder Dog, Bear’s fans are going to have to be patient. While he has the potential to shine in every game, he is equally likely to stink up the joint. This is what Denver fans had to endure about Elway and what Indy fans had to put up with regarding Manning. Wonder Dog has every bit as much potential as either of those two gentlemen and benching him now would only sap his confidence.

However, he can help his own cause by taking short drops and making quick decisions today. The Vikes will be in a cover two so the middle of the field may open up a it. Look for Wonder Dog to find Desmond Clark early and often.

Facing the number one rush defense, the Bears still must try to run the ball. Thomas Jones must have a monster day or else the burden falls on Wonder Dog - something the Bears would like to avoid. Look for Jones to make 25 attempted rushes today - even though he won’t get much. This will set the tone for an in your face, dog eat dog kind of contest where the winner isn’t necessarily standing at the end but rather simply surviving.

The Bears D-line, stung to the quick by media criticism that they are underperforming, should also have a monster day today. Look for at least one defensive score as well as another breakaway return by the kid Devon Hester. The rest of the Defense should key off of Urlacher, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year who is, if anything, outdoing his performance from a year ago. He is dominating the game in a way that few can.

The Vikes will be competitive for three quarters but I predict a Bears victory nonetheless. Final: Bears 20-10. With a victory the Bears clinch the North Division and prepare for St. Louis next Monday night.

And if they lose, the baying hounds will be after Wonder Dog and Coach Lovie may not be able to resist the pressure to go with the veteran Greise next week.

By: Rick Moran at 9:44 am
2 Responses to “UN-”BEAR”-ABLY COLD WEATHER”
  1. 1
    jpe Said:
    11:11 am 

    With that defense, you just need a competent QB, and Rex (wonder dog - heh) fits the bill. You’re dead on about Griese, too.

    I think the Bears will take this one in a walk.

  2. 2
    bellisaurius Said:
    11:58 am 

    Keep Rex Grossman in?!? This may be Rightwingnuthouse’s most controversial piece yet!

    That said, I’m definitely on the side of playing the kid. Hope springs eternal.

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