Friday, August 31, 2007

I Wish I Was in Dixie.

I love the South. Not the Southside, but the South. Any chance that I get to travel down below Springfield is worth taking. I mean, they even have sweet tea and great barbecue in southern Illinois. However, I would like to keep going and get deep in the heart of Dixie. That is where my football obsession would be seen as a personality strength.

I have been to three SEC football games, and they put the football-North to shame. Knoxville, Gainesville and Baton Rouge-Tennessee, Florida and LSU, respectively. UT was the best. "Rocky Top" on permanent rotation, orange everywhere, nicest people and kick-ass stadium. I'm going back...someday soon. The fans in all three spots were relentless. As much as I hate Florida, Gator fans are the best. They stand throughout the game, cheer loudly, sing songs, do that stupid "gator chomp", they are the closest thing to English soccer fans as America can provide. LSU was alright. We missed the real tailgating due to our late arrival. I hear the campus is beautiful, but the stadium is overrated. Maybe a night game...hmmm.

They are college football crazy. Being from the North, I am mainly an NFL-Bears guy. However, I will always catch those SEC games on the tube. And pine for those tailgates under the palmetto or pecan trees. I bet there are no itch mites down in football paradise.

As for the last practice game, we got a knee to the groin with an Olsen sprained knee. No need for him to be out there, Love Muffin. Just admit the mistake. This guy is starting to sound like a politician. All I know is that on September 9, they best be ready to play. I will not concede this game because it is on the road and against an AFC power. No excuses, just win, baby.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Well Attended Practice

Another full house at Chase Field at Soldier Field at the former site of the Old Soldier Field Stadium for the 3rd practice game. Our Bears scored 31 points in the first half. In the past ten quarters at home over the past three seasons, the Bears have outscored the 49ers, 389-13 or something like that. Also, Nathan Vasher returned a missed field goal 105 yards for a touchdown against the Niners three years ago. That occurred with 20 seconds to go in the first half of that game. Many fans missed that play because they sprinted to the bathroom lines. Some advice: drink less-watch more football.

It was great to be in the south lot for the tailgating. One problem, the parking police put us in front-gating position. This sucks. You spend a lot of money for that parking. You park in that lot to tailgate. Allow our tail to be gated. My kids love to sit on the open trunk bumper (don't ask me why), and I want to afford them this ridiculous but necessary pleasure. Nevertheless, I enjoy being around lit grills and semi-lit fans. My rub was in good form, but I will not buy my pork chops from Jewel again. I know this yet I did it anyway. I blame the weight loss. Still cannot beat the Johnsonvilles.

Question: Why four preseason games?
Answer: 2 soft drinks and a cotton candy...$17.50.

Lance Briggs can't drive but boy, can he play. I can just picture old Lance getting that $1,000,000 check from the Bears and running off to the expensive car dealer and pulling a Tony Montana. "How much for this one?...Is that all? Allright, Manny, bulletproof this, here, this. And get me one of those scanners. And one of those scramblers for those satellites. What, gun-turrets are extra? You're a funny guy." Lance is looking to land one of those "lady-tigers." Just don't ask Urlacher to set you up.

Monday, August 20, 2007


All right, you can't fumble snaps. You can't. Ever. Never. Ever. It's like misspelling your own name. Once September 9th rolls around, I better not see that. No contract.

Now for something completely different. Peyton Manning is so good at taking advantage of what you do well, he forces you into changing your scheme. Manning forces the Bears out of the Cover-2. The Bears played man-to-man on that drive where Harrison and Wayne seemed to get tons of cushion. You cannot roll up and bump those two; they are too good. The Bears will concede the yardage between the twenties, try to shorten the area in which those two can roam and take their chances. I want to hate Manning, but he is too goddamn good. He is so frustrating to watch when he plays your team. He makes you feel as if you have no chance.

I did not see the Bears run anything but vanilla offense with the firsts. No slot with Olsen, no real downfield attempts. It's practice, I guess. I notice that they never seem to run the slants with Rex. He might be too short for that throw. I would hate to think that was true. Griese gets that call alot. I still believe that you can't win without a QB that can put pressure on the opposing defense. You just can't have him lose games. He is testing my faith. Like a pedophile priest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm Buggin' Out

I am a victim of the latest outbreak of unidentified biting insects. I have 11 or 12 of these mysterious bites on my neck, arms and torso. The "experts" are attributing these bites to an unknown "itch mite." All I can tell you is that these bites itch and hurt. Quite a combo. I have been outside in the evenings with the football at a park in Hinsdale. You think those rich pricks could by a fogger or some shit. I must remember the DeepWoods Off.

All is quiet in Bourboncity. No injuries to be concerned about. Knock on wood. A long wait until Monday night versus the Colt. Watch the new Colt left tackle, rookie Tony Ugoh. He was thrust into the starting lineup when longtime vet Tarik Glenn suddenly retired. I am eager to see Mark Anderson take on the rook. Other than that, 3 series and out for the starters. And Peyton Manning's neck.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Takin' Care of Business

The Bears came out of the first exhibition game with a solid B in performance and an A for "nobody gets a season-ending torn Achilles tendon." The offense got the ball moving, and Rex looked like he could see the field. Big plus: opponents will have few answers for Greg Olsen. He looks like the real deal. Defensively, aggressive play was the theme. The DB's went after that football like bobcats stuck in phone booths. Need to see some pass rush next week. All this talk about a battle for left end left me wondering who really cares about these two, Agounlye and Brown. Let's get after it!

Coach Ditka kills me. He talks so fast, he doesn't finish his words. "The Bears have a very good defen... just not a grea defen." Also, he said that the Bears are becoming America's team, replacing the Dallas Cowboys. Huh? Just because there are displaced Chicagoans around America does not make the Bears "America's Team." I doubt we are converting those Patriot fans like Christians convert Botswanians. Right, Dave? I would love to hear the Coach all season. A true Chicago treasure.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Little" Game this Saturday.

Optimism continues to run unchecked down there in Bearbonnaise. We will see the starters play about two series on Saturday night. Anything short of a dominant 14-0 lead midway through the 1st quarter will cause a disturbance in the "force." Just wait for the mood swings on Monday if Rex tosses a pick. My heart is aflutter with anticipation for the big practice game.

Today is the first practice for the mighty 11-12 year-old, St. Isaac Jogues Trojans. It is also my first practice as a head coach. It will also be my last year as a football coach for a while. Having another baby girl will enlist me into the head-dad role again.

As most of you who know me, this head coaching thing could bring a bit of the lunatic out. For instance, I have thought lately that two-a-days don't seem so unreasonable anymore. Rational thinking, however, allows me to decide that doubles are not appropriate for 5th and 6th graders. Really, the best thing I learned about coaching football is that although I played football for 14 years and have studied, thought about and watched football for 41 years, I really don't know shit about coaching football. That realization makes me a better coach every day.

Coaches are teachers. Hence, I think about teaching. Although football is the subject matter, communicating and instructing are the real skills. I don't believe you necessarily have had to play a lot of football to coach the game. Certainly, knowledge of the basics of the game is essential. But the ability to teach the game is a whole different discipline.

I have had many coaches who were, for lack of a better title, assholes. Many of them bragged on their glory days. Football playing experience helped create these monsters. However, I have played a lot of football. The three men with whom I coach have all played college football. One coach played on the 1983 University of Miami national championship team. Yet, these are all good men and excellent coaches. Why? Because they put the kids first. They truly take care of these boys. We feel responsible for giving them the best football experience of their lives.

What's the difference among ex-football player coaches? I think the longer you have played football, you will ultimately be humbled by the game. If you were a grade school standout, high school is an awakening. If you were talented enough to blow through your high school career, Division 1 college is waiting to beat you down. If college football was no challenge, please get in line for a speed trap ass-kicking over there in the NFL, rookie. Eventually, you have got to have or remember that day or play that humbled you as a football player.

As for me, I was always humbled by the game. Football was a constant challenge. I loved the competition; I loved surprising coaches with perfectly executed blocks. I appreciated the mental skills I had in order to compensate for my lack of physical ones. It allowed me to get on the field and be a part of a team, be a part of victories and be a part of something I could say that I help build.

With our collective humility, we as a staff want to help our kids fall in love with the game that we love. We don't take ourselves too seriously. We reflect on all the bad coaches we have had and don't repeat their mistakes. We take the good stuff from the good ones. Most importantly, we watch and listen to our kids. When they respect the game and enjoy the experience, we feel great. When they come back for another season, we have done our job.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Love Machine

When I played football at St. Rita Grade School, every season the parents would throw pizza parties for us. It was usually before the playoffs. During the festivities, every player was asked to stand up and give a mini-speech. Due to the shyness of most that age, a similar mantra was repeated. It went like this: "If the line blocks and the backs run...we will win." As the procession of speakers progressed, each would add another refrain. "If the kickers kick, if the fans cheer, etc." It was an 11 year-olds, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" thing.

If Rex Grossman were in this oratorical kick-line, he should add the line "If the Coaches coach...we will win the Super Bowl." Rex's 2006 inconsistent play is well known, beaten into our heads like multiplication tables. Yet, I wonder why, in the teeth of the interception-fumble storms, did Ron Turner continue to call the same plays that Rex was unable to execute. The job of a coach is to put your team in a position to be successful. Time after time, they would put Rex back on the field and call plays that the opposing defenses had clearly taken away.

"If the coaches coach," means that if they can't protect Rex, they should stop the deep drops. If the running game is not successful early, they need to stay patient. If Rex ain't gettin' er done, he should be yanked. Talk is cheap folks. I don't believe it until I see it in game conditions. So, tone down affection for the Underwear Bowl over there in Boubon-city. Rex got his year of Lovie love. Today, it's all about wins. If he has to be it. Nothing should stand in our way, not even the possible fragile psyche of one player.