'Sup, 'sup. If you missed the first part of my weekly Bears critiques, be sure to correct that problem immediately.
1. As part of Grantland's massive NFL preview, Bill Barnwell placed every team into one of four tiers: those rising, those falling, those with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, and those with no shot at a title whatsoever. He put the Bears in the final group. It was a bold proclamation for a team that went to the conference finals a year ago, but one that Barnwell defended enthusiastically.
Barnwell wrote that the Bears' record in close games was unsustainable, that the new kickoff rules would kill their field position, and that the clean bill of health Chicago rode all last season likely wouldn't happen again. Valid points, all of them, especially when armed with the type of data Barnwell used at Football Outsiders to make a name for himself. I've linked to the article several times because objective, data-driven opinions are always relevant, and because many fans in this city only view football through Bears-tinted glasses.
Remember: lots of us weren't particularly optimistic about this team a week ago. If a reputable, numbers-based writer says our beloved Bears are destined to disappoint, it seems silly to discount the viewpoint.
Then the game began. As the Bears started their dismantling of the Falcons on Sunday, Barnwell was left with egg on his face and probably a few half-drunk Bears fans ready to remind him of his prediction on Twitter. I really didn't think anything of it until I saw this tweet from Barnwell about half-way through the game:
I didn't care for that level of condescension, as if the Bears were keeping Larry Fitzgerald on the bench in order to start Williams. But the tweet was nothing compared to what Barnwell published Monday morning.
In an article that almost seemed engineered to get a rise of us forever loyal Chicagoans, Barnwell said that, yes, the Bears won due to a great deal of luck and that the Lions' 27-20 win over the Bucs was far more impressive. Never mind the fact that Tampa had the ball near mid-field with a Hail Mary's chance to tie things up on the final play of that game, or that the Bears had Atlanta out of reach by halftime.
It reeked of a man desperate to defend the legitimacy of his system, you know, the one that sputtered out the prediction that our Bears were set to be among the league's worst teams. While he raised some valid points about the unlikelihood that Chicago would ever again recover all five fumbles in a game, Barnwell still mostly came off like a privileged student who was just told his experiment wasn't good enough to win the science fair.
No matter how beautiful the Bears' Week 1 victory was -- and yes, it was gorgeous -- it of course remains much too soon to discount Barnwell's analysis completely. But hey: if the Bears are cruising next Sunday against Drew Brees and the Saints, don't let that stop you from rubbing it in his face a little bit. That's @BillBarnwell, kids.
2. Perhaps the biggest revelation of Week 1 was Henry Melton, the third year Texas product who got the start at defensive tackle. Melton finished with two sacks and a number of hits on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. After Bears fans spent the last three seasons watching Tommie Harris' corpse erode, the young, motivated, and energetic Melton was a welcomed sight. If he keeps this up, No. 69 will soon become a fan favorite.
I'm also happy to report that he's unquestionably the best follow on Twitter of all the Bears players. Melton is funny, and doesn't tweet 400 times a day like Chris Harris. Want proof? Check out these lolz:
If a Chicago athlete tops that for joke of the year, color me astonished. Remember, Patrick Kane's genital warts are no laughing manner.
More tweets from @HenMel!
I feel like we're practically best friends already.
3. Big up's to veteran Chicago sportswriter Melissa Isaacson for scoring the funniest post-game quote. Here's what Anthony Adams told the ESPN Chicago writer about Brian Urlacher's vintage effort in Week 1.
Tackle Anthony Adams, one of six over-30 defensive starters, was presumably being facetious when he chose to compare Urlacher, the 33-year-old star of Sunday's game, to his college football coach.
"They say the same thing about Coach Paterno," Adams said of the 84-year-old Penn State coach. "Coach Paterno may have 'Lach' by 10 years, but he's still alive and kicking, he's still sharp. When I go to Penn State, he asks me about my wife, knows all my kids' names, my mom's name. It's the same with Urlacher."
Given how big of a sourpuss Urlacher has become in recent years, ribbing the star linebacker is not only accepted but encouraged from the staff at SB Nation Chicago. Never expect a man with a barbed wire bicep tattoo to take a joke well.
4. Wanna see something funny?
At least I think it's funny. Taunting and showboating will never play up well in this city, and it's especially the case when the athlete in question has done little to endear himself to the fans. That's why it wasn't surprising to see Twitter flooded with comments about Roy Williams' signature first down taunt. SBN Chi friend of the program JJ Stankevitz might have had the best one:
"Roy Williams could have both his arms cut off and he'd still do the first down signal."
Williams pled guilty to the anti-fun police after the game, and defended himself by saying:
"Some people said don't do the first-down sign (and) some people said have fun. So I wanted to have fun," Williams said. "I know the Bears fans didn't like it when I played with Detroit. I didn't like 'Bear Down' either. So it's an even trade."
Yes, there was a whole article in the Chicago Tribune about this. Journalism!
Perhaps it's a sign of my own wild immaturity, but I love when people get pissed off over stupid stuff like this. I'm hoping Roy keeps taunting all year: so long as he's getting first downs, I say 'taunt away, sir'.
Besides, is Williams' played out celebration really that offensive? If anything, it's offensively bland. Check out what TUP-approved Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton did after getting in the end zone this week (click the picture):
That swag deserves its own social security number. So rad.
5. The Rex Report!
OK, so we really need a better name for this bit, the one where we'll follow the on-going's of Bears legend Rex Grossman as he tries to rebuild his career in Washington. As a headline writer, all I've got are puns, alliteration, and possibly inappropriate sexual innuendo. Feel to drop better names in the comment section ("The Grossman Grapevine!") and YOU could have your witty joke featured on SB Nation Chicago. Basically, this is the golden ticket of our generation.
Ohhhhh, Rex Grossman. You dog. Just as Bears fans everywhere were getting their punchlines ready, Rex went out and put up one of the top passing lines of the week against the Giants: 305 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating north of 110.
Looks like we get to break out the Good Rex picture this week.
The other beneficiary of Grossman's success? It led to the laugh-out-loud moment below. The scene: I log onto Twitter on my computer (dramatic!). This is the first thing I see:
Awww, what up, Kevin Durant! Tell your panda friend I said 'sup.
Yeah: one of the coolest mother-truckers on the planet (and noted D.C. native) singing the praises of Rex Grossman. Pretty dope. Trust me Kev: I used to love the man too, and have the skeletons in my blog closet to prove it. This likely won't end well, but enjoy it while you can.
Ricky O'Donnell is a writer and editor in Chicago and the founder of the Chicago sports blog Tremendous Upside Potential. He is always very much available for hire. Follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.