It was only a matter of time that the Chicago media would begin formulating ideas about why the Bears did not make the playoffs and what they needed to do to rectify that in 2009. The Bears have yet to be eliminated from playoff contention this year, and already there are fingers being pointed and slips of paper filling the Halas Hall suggestion box.
For example, take my favorite Chicago Tribune writer, David Haugh — and I use the word favorite lightly, as in my favorite weather of the year is this numbingly cold stuff we’ve been saddled with the past few days.
The Bears don’t play until Monday this week, and last played on Thursday, which means Haugh had an extra couple days to write a piece of drivel that in and of itself is a waste of a couple minutes of your life that you can never get back. Yet, just like a car crash on the side of the road, the catchy headline — Bernard Berrian the one that got away for Bears — is enough to draw your attention to the burning wreck and cause congestion on the highway.
Of course, congestion, in this sense, refers to the handful of people naïve enough to believe his blather and subscribe to his theories, while making the majority of Bear Nation look bad, and clogging the airways with meatheads regurgitating Haugh’s philosophies and ruining what is an otherwise good radio show.
I understand what Haugh is attempting to do. Desperate for fans to read his work, he dangles an article about a wide receiver in front of the faces of a fan base that is forced to watch each week one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps. That’s like holding out a piece of food in front of a famished person. Or waving to a homeless passerby from the warmth and comfort of your own home. Or, to use Haugh’s metaphor from his article, flashing a bottle of water in front of a thirsty man in the desert.
Indubitably, people are going to pay attention to it. They’re hungering for change at the position and a lot of them want to be told what to think rather than form their own opinion.
If had to do it all over again, I still would not hand over $42 million — including $16 million guaranteed — to a receiver of Berrian’s ilk, a guy who was only chasing the money out of town, and a guy who had no interest remaining in Chicago where there was instability at quarterback.
Not one Devin Hester failed screen pass or fly pattern — or any other route, for that matter — ever caused me to lament the Bears letting Berrian walk this off-season.
Nor did any one of Rashied Davis’ drops.
Or Marty Booker’s inability to stay on the field.
Or Earl Bennett’s inability to find the field.
Or Brandon Lloyd’s early-season tease, in which he flashed some promise only to miss several weeks with an injury and come back as a below average receiver.
Or the release of Mark Bradley — who had been anointed Berrian’s successor after Berrian bolted for the Vikings.
Or Bradley suddenly looking like a competent receiver in Kansas City, where their offense is even shadier than the Bears’ is.
Even though he’s not a No. 1 receiver, are Hester’s statistics — 43 catches for 568 yards and 3 touchdowns — that much worse than Berrian’s — 42 catches for 865 yards and 6 touchdowns? You can thank the Bears’ porous pass defense for 99 of Berrian’s yards, given up on one miserable play that might have been the turning point in the Bears season.
I forgot, this is a scoring league. So, Berrian’s 3-touchdown advantage over Hester makes all the difference, right?
And are we to assume that Kyle Orton’s deficiency with the deep ball would have been corrected with Berrian running downfield? I think not. What exactly can Berrian do differently than the measly crop of receivers the Bears currently have? Catch the ball? He had his own case of the drops with Chicago.
Bottom line, Berrian would have been the top receiver on the Bears this year, but his production is not in line with the huge contract he signed, which made him the fourth-highest-paid receiver in NFL. Further evidence that, although he probably likes to think so, Haugh would not make a good general manager.