Expectation management is one of those curiously minor things that, if considered at all, happens far too often after the fact. Yet, expectation management when done properly and executed in a timely fashion is one of those indispensable life hacks. At your job, say for a maniacal villain bent on world conquest, a well-handled report to your boss where you soften the blow of unexpectedly poor results, "He got away again, sir," with a dash of good news, "R&D is reporting excellent progress on your doomsday device, boss!" can be the difference between being thrown into the shark tank and eaten alive OR doing the henchman tossin' and scoring a promotion. And in no profession are the bosses more maniacal and hell-bent on conquering than in the NFL ('sup, Goodell!), so let's consider this Week 3 match between the St. Louis Rams and Bears from that scope: managing expectations.
Rams fan, after loss to Lions: "Can't win 'em all, but BOY!, we sure gave the Lions hell, didn't we? Go Rams!"
Bears fan, after win over Indianapolis: "SUPER BOWL CHAMPS! BEARS ARE WINNING NEXT FOUR SUPER BOWLS AN' WE'RE RENAMING THE LOMBARDI TROPHY THE CUTLER TROPHY!"
Rams fan, after an odd and somewhat unlikely win over Washington: "We won? I can sort of remember this feeling but it's fuzzy. I don't feel terrible, I know that."
Bears fan, after, well, you remember: "JAY CUTLER WHY YOU MAKE ME SAD? THIS IS YOUR FAULT. YOU'RE A LYING LIAR AND I HATE YOU."
With Week 3 already here let's consider the St. Louis Rams, an outfit with a new, wily old codger of a head coach in Jeff Fisher and a not terrible offense that has been more hits than misses thus far in the season. Sam Bradford, after a dismal, injury plagued 2011 campaign, has rebounded quite nicely coming out of the gates with 4 TDs, 1, INT, and a stellar passer rating (pointless metric, I know) of 112.4 and could pose quite the problem to Chicago's iffy secondary if the Bears' defensive line can't take care of business. Catching Bradford's passes are, primarily, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, while neither wideout possesses the freakish size of a Calvin Johnson, they both cause separation at the line and run tight routes, which in the past has been trouble enough for Chicago's secondary. Leading the ground game is St. Louis' battering ram (pun!), Steven Jackson who, after years of silent, impressive, punishing toil, is beginning to show some wear on his treads. Mind you an aged Steven Jackson, like a wounded lion, is still dangerous and the Bears would do well to contain him, which they should (the Bears in recent seasons have been quite stingy with rushing yards given up at Soldier Field.)
The real story is going to be all about Jay Cutler and the offense he's leading onto the field. Cutler, through his inability to shut his yapper, brought the spotlight on himself at Lambeau and we all saw what happened. This weekend against an opportunistic but by no means "juggernaut" Rams defense, Cutler should be able to bounce back (if not avoid all sacks and probably toss a pick or two), the Rams don't really have a cover man that can handle Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush (or Matt Forte if he plays) should be able to find their space and pound, pound, pound away at the Rams average defensive line and linebacking corp.
Prediction? Bears 30, Rams 17
The Bears Game Is On At Noon, Any Other Good Games On TV?
Sure are! Sadly, the early CBS games are blacked out in Chicago (NFL rules), but if you (or a friend, or bar by your house) have Sunday Ticket the Cincy-Washington game should be pretty excellent as should, in the late afternoon slot, Houston-Denver and Atlanta-San Diego. The Sunday Night game on NBC is New England and Baltimore which, again, should be a pretty good game of football for people who like watching football. The whole weekend gamut can be found over at The506 who has been making these maps since at least 2007 when I found out about him. God's work, that one.
NFL-Related Memes? Complaints About Refs? Anything Else?
I'm so glad you reminded me, bold-face type font! I do have a bone to pick with NFL-related memes this week, namely the Smokin' Jay Cutler meme. Look, we all know smoking is waaaaay bad for you, causes cancers, destroys your lungs, pregnant women should never do it, escalated risk of hypertension, heart disease, et cetera, BUT! smoking is really fucking cool and Jay Cutler is so not cool, that even this meme doesn't work for me (I know, I know, it was really popular this week._ If I were a less lazy human, and believe me, I AM LAZY, I'd Photoshop a much better meme (Jay Cutler in a tutu? Jay Cutler eating Jack's frozen pizzas?) so, if you're excitable and good at the PShop, cook up an awesome Cutler meme and I'll post it next week.
And another thing, listen NFL, I know you guys are probably pretty sore about everyone ripping on the scab refs and, yeah, brand management, disaster management, but can it with the "Warning The 32 Teams" bit. This is such a draconian and weak power play on the part of the League and if anything can be read as an admission of guilt on the part of the NFL. Namely, this reeks of "Look, we know this sucks, but we're not going to fix it so do shut up." Additionally, the antiquated usage of the word "forevermore" was actually used by the NFL's Ray Anderson:
"We contacted them to remind them that everyone has a responsibility to respect the game. We expect it to be adhered to this weekend and forevermore."
Ray, listen, using a big word like "forevermore" doesn't make you sound intelligent or authoritative, it makes you sound like the "mysterious sage" who warns of a peasant's future being "fraught with peril forevermore until thy kisses thine mystical, sleeping maiden." or some such rot from a Renaissance Faire, which, by the way, is totally OK, Ray. If Ren Fairs are your thing, cool, but "forevermore" really doesn't belong in work memos that you're sending out to the entire company. Synonyms that would've been better suited? What say next time you go with "always," "continually," or "forever." But the point that maybe I am ignoring is that Roger Goodell and his serf Ray Anderson could very likely consider the NFL their kingdom and if that's the case, Ray, I do apologize, you used "forevermore" properly if that is the case. Tell your majesty I say "What ho!"
Enjoy the games, folks.