Chicago Sports Exchange: Bears Failure Sets Tone For Overall Rough Week

By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)

It’s as simple as this, Aaron Rodgers.

If you no longer want any part of an organization whose general manager has begun to dig your grave even as you continue to withstand the rigors of professional quarterbacking with flying colors, then you should most certainly look for a change of scenery. You see how well things are working out for Tom Brady after he ended his longterm relationship with New England, right?

He found greener — and far warmer — pastures in Tampa Bay. Now while it may be tempting to move across country where friendlier climates and your childhood favorite 49ers play, remember, that team blew its chance with you years ago. Besides, the coldest dish of revenge you could serve that bay green and cheese gold-colored front office would be aligning yourself with its sworn enemy, the Chicago Bears.

That’s how you retaliate against Brian Gutekunst, who had the audacity to trade up to select Jordan Love in last year’s NFL Draft, and head coach Matt LaFleur, who was a little too eager to co-sign that move and chose Mason Crosby’s leg, not your invaluable arm, when it mattered most. After all, when you have a chance to really stick it to your ex you don’t date a stranger. You round the bases with the best friend.

Think about it.

Not only would you move from the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field to that at Soldier Field, but you’d also go from being one of the city’s most hated visitors to one of its most beloved residents a la Dennis Rodman.

Plus, you love it here. Or at least that’s what I took from how you talked about the chills you feel before game time listening to both Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem and Bears fans equally resounding reaction. “Those tingles over the years have made that place a really special environment,” you said in December. “And I do have a lot of respect for the organization, the fan base, their team.”

And we for you, albeit begrudgingly.

But you can’t really blame us for that though, can you? I mean, you did author a 35-16 beat down with your 240 yards and four touchdowns just a few days after speaking so highly of practically all things Chicago. Not to mention that was the 10th victory of your career in the Windy City in the 13 times you’ve played here. Hard feelings are even harder to shake when they’re mixed with the envy of watching your arch-rival swap one hall-of-fame signal caller for another while our carousel of mediocrity at that position continues to turn nonstop.

You can change that. You can rip that ride from its lousy rails. It’ll take some convincing, maybe even a little acting on your part. You’re pretty believable in those State Farm commercials. How good are you at faking or threatening retirement?

As far as compensation goes, tell Gutekunst we can offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in each of the next two as well. There figures to be a nice crop of blue chip offensive lineman this summer. Something for him to keep in mind given his franchise left tackle, David Bakhtiari, will be playing the rest of his career on a surgically-repaired knee. Also, considering how Kevin King had two touchdowns scored on him and drew a crippling defensive pass interference penalty that essentially robbed you of the chance to play in your second Super Bowl, it seems an upgrade at cornerback is in order. We’ve got a promising one in Jaylon Johnson he might be interested in, too.

If that package doesn’t move him, perhaps we can throw in the tag-and-trade of Allen Robinson. We’d much rather have the two of you here, but if we must sacrifice our most lethal offensive threat then so be it. You’re that special to us. Even today, just a handful of months from beginning your 17th year in the NFL.

Look. Breaking up is hard. There’s no two ways about it. But once you finish sopping up the best comfort food our city has to offer, you’ll adjust. You’ll see that while the sum of the Bears’ current weapons don’t yet compare to that of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan, you’ve had far less to work with in your career than David Montgomery, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.

None of this is to say you’d find the type of immediate success that Brady’s found with the Buccaneers. What it does mean is your arrival would, quite frankly, send an already rabid fanbase over the moon; push our mockery of a front office into credible standing; and our overworked defense into more favorable situations.

If nothing else, how satisfying would it be to flip the league’s oldest rivalry on its head, to force Gutekunst and LaFleur to forever rue the day they chose Love?

In Green Bay you had to escape the shadow of Brett Farve — who, against conventional wisdom, was cast out to the Jets of all teams after reaching near-deity status as a Cheeshead, his association with the Packers being the only one that can rival yours post-Bart Starr. Here, in Chicago, you’d cast a shadow as far as our franchise’s list of starting quarterbacks is long before you even threw your first pass in dark navy and orange.

The offseason is long. Our patience for a player your caliber has been woefully longer.

Just give it some thought.

Ok?

The week that was saw the sloughing off of more pieces from the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship puzzle as well as, perhaps, any realistic probability of a Bears playoff berth.

Throw in the expected retirement of the “un-Hollywood as hell” former Bull Joakim Noah and things have suddenly gotten darker than Chicago’s afternoon horizon.

Luckily, Bulls basketball is on tap for the first time since March.

Fingers crossed.

SELL! SELL! SELL! – Bears Bottom Out Against Lions

A week after playing poorly enough to have warranted being chased off the field by the Apollo Theatre’s Sandman, the Bears failed to keep another rival, Detroit, on the hook of a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and instead found new, innovative ways to bomb in a 34-30 head shaker. 

The defense has now given up more points in the last two weeks than it has in any two-game stretch this year.

Matt Nagy attempted to light a fire under that unit specifically in the days leading up to Sunday’s seventh defeat of the season and sixth in successive fashion. And yet for all his ballyhoo, his is the seat with a distinct sizzle.

Whether or not that heat soon rises to meet the hind parts of Ryan Pace and Ted Phillips remains to be seen. 

But considering Pace bought the groceries for a meal Nagy has proven unable to pull together while Phillips presides over the both of them unbothered, a complete front-office overhaul seems reasonable if not altogether necessary.

Even if the Bears were to somehow find ways to win each of their last four remaining games and miraculously sneak into the playoffs, it’d be viewed primarily as a forfeiture of good draft position than a rallying team saving a season rife with comedies of error. 

BUY – Chance of Fresh Play Sets Stage For Welcome Return of Bulls

It wasn’t particularly delectable when it was last spooned out, but a hunger remains for Bulls basketball, which returns this week.

Part of the reason why we welcome back the Bulls fondly is that they’re bringing enough new flavor to reclaim the interest of fans. 

Mounting intrigue as to how new head coach Billy Donovan plans to repurpose the ingredients of a team that won no more than two games in a row last season makes a typically routine pair of home preseason contests feel momentous. 

Sam Smith’s 2020-2021 Chicago Bulls Roster Preview (Bulls.com)

Not to mention they’ll mark the end of a nine-month hiatus owed to mediocrity and malady, and also happen to scrimmage against a Houston Rockets team that just recently swapped one allegedly disgruntled former superstar guard (Russell Westbrook) for another (John Wall) with the Washington Wizards.

Both Friday and Sunday’s tilt with the Rockets will be played in an empty United Center as will be the case for every Bulls home game to begin the 2020-2021 season. 

One of the Bulls’ fresher faces, Garrett Temple, is hoping to be cleared for individual workouts this week after he revealed Sunday that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 28. Temple, who has been quarantining at a Chicago hotel, can return to the team after producing consecutive negative PCR tests 24 hours apart.

HOLD – Cubs Tender Some Fan Favorites, Are Less Tender With Others

For all of its inevitability, the non-tendering of a contract to Kyle Schwarber still struck Cubs fans like a sucker punch.

A former fourth overall pick, Schwarber never quite recaptured the magic from his 2016 World Series performance that catapulted him into Chicago sports lore and helped the Cubs secure their first title in 108 years. Schwarbs’ more recent struggles — including a .188 batting average and 11 home runs in 59 games last season — made shelling out the $8 to $9 million he was projected to make non-nonsensical for an organization determined to recoup COVID-era losses at the gates.

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer didn’t rule out the possibility of signing Schwarber to a more cost-effective deal, though Hoyer is sure to face competition for the 27-year-old’s services, especially if last season’s universal designated hitter rule continues and thereby enhances the allure of a still undeniably powerful swing for the Ohio native.

Albert Almora Jr., another former top-10 pick and championship linchpin who has found tough sledding at the plate in recent years, was released into free agency as expected as well.

Quite the opposite could be said about Len Kasper’s sudden Southern migration. The Cubs’ longtime television play-by-play man is leaving “The Friendly Confines” to call games from the radio booth of the crosstown rival White Sox. Fox Sports broadcaster Chris Myers, who was hired by the Marquee Network for part-time play-by-play and hosting duties upon its launch, is the leading candidate to replace Kasper. 

If Cubs fans were floored by the latest turnover, the tendering of contracts to Kris Bryant, Wilson Contreras and Javier Baez were the smelling salts.

It’s still possible Bryant could be traded before next season. But he, along with Contreras and Baez, can either negotiate a one-year or longer-term deal or go to arbitration in February to determine future salary. 

Hoyer’s decisions thus far give credence to his promise to oversee an off-season of retooling, not rebuilding. Though this week’s Winter Meetings may paint an even clearer picture of the course ahead. 

BUY – White Sox Lining Up As Contenders For Top Free Agents

While retool is the word of the off-season on the North Side, refinement better describes what’s in order for the on-the-verge White Sox. 

In the wake of non-tendering contracts to oft-injury-bug bitten Carlos Rodon and the underwhelming Nomar Mazara, the White Sox need to plug holes in their starting pitching rotation and right field. Designated hitting could also be addressed depending on top-ranked prospect Andrew Vaughn readiness for the big leagues. 

Atop many a team’s wish list are National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and former World Series MVP George Springer

Acquiring either player would rip the South Siders’ championship window from its hinges. But even if the White Sox strike out on the picks of the litter options won’t shrink too much as there’s an historically deep free agent pool from which to fish this off-season as a result of league-wide penny pinching.

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