As we near a full day since the Chicago Bears' season came to end, it's becoming easier to think rationally about the season as a whole instead of wanting to -- as Limp Bizkit once sang -- break stuff.
Really, yesterday was a microcosm for the entire Bears' 2008 season.
The early 10-0 lead was the unexpected win in Indianapolis. Giving the lead away was the Bears' three blown games early in the season. The late surge was the three-game winning streak, where us fans were given hope, and the awful onside kick by Robbie Gould teamed with Tommie Harris' offsides penalty and the allowed first down were losing a game when a win would have placed the Bears in the playoffs. Yep, the Cowboys and Bucs lost, so a Bears victory would have placed them in the playoffs.
Alas, it was not to be. If we can take a few steps back and be honest fans, we need to realize that this team didn't deserve to make the playoffs. There are too many weaknesses to justify a 10-6 record and playoff appearance.
It doesn't make things any less painful, but if we can take ourselves back to the start of the season and remember expectations, we have to be happy with 9-7. Pretty much everyone thought the team would be among the worst in football, as one anonymous tough guy stated in in July.
We now know how good Matt Forte is, how easily Devin Hester can shake through a secondary, that there is hope with the offensive line moving forward, and that Kyle Orton is a serviceable quarterback. He's already been named the starter the for next year by offensive coordinator Ron Turner. I guess we'll have to live with his inability to find Hester in stride on deep passes.
Let's hope that the 9-7 record doesn't cloud management into believing there aren't many tweaks needed to the roster and/or coaching staff. Lovie Smith will obviously be retained, but how can he justify keeping Bob Babich as the defensive coordinator? There is too much of the Bears' payroll on the defensive side of the football to be losing pivotal games 31-24.
All in all, there are holes on this team, but 2008 was a step in the right direction when compared to preseason expectations. The problem is that they made us fans believe a division championship was in the cards, and now they've torn our collective hearts from our chests.
Bears Head Home After Building Up and Tearing Down Their Fans' Hopes originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Mon, 29 Dec 2008 11:05:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.