NFL training camps a whole lot of nothing
Did this weekend's preseason victory over Washington tell us anything about Lovie Smith's Bears? No, but fans will continue to make too much out of not much, says Mike Imrem.
Maybe because August is a relatively boring sports month, we just can't help ourselves from overreacting to the Bears.
By we I mean the media can't and football fans can't. If the upcoming political conventions were covered like the Bears are, Chicagoans couldn't hide from them.
NFL training camps are like bowls of nothing for breakfast. They aren't good for us. They aren't bad for us. We digest them simply because they're there.
Bless the whole dynamic. It employs more sports writers. You do think more sports writers are worthwhile, don't you?
Regardless, we complain about teams charging regular-season prices for NFL exhibitions because the games are meaningless. Then we fixate on everything that happens in them.
Boy, that Bears quarterback looked sharp. That rookie over here was a real steal in the draft. That old guy over there played like he's 10 years younger.
The Bears' first exhibition game was so shabby that they were going to miss the playoffs. The second was better so they're Super Bowl contenders again.
Every practice this month is bisected. Every player is dissected. Every position change is vivisected.
Daily updates on an NFL team during August are like monitoring a high-profile murder case.
The prosecution won Monday. The defense won Tuesday. The rest of the week was even on all the judges' cards.
Is Drew Peterson ahead on points? How does that compare to where O.J. Simpson was at a similar juncture? Could the Bears really be as bad as they seemed in Game 1, as good as they seemed in Game 2 and as mediocre as they might seem in Game 3?
Seriously, I wonder how I became a football fan as a kid without this much information reeling me in. Nobody reported every time Mike Ditka snorted, whether Johnny Morris developed bunions, or how Fat Freddy Williams gained another pound.
The big deal during training camp was whether somebody was seriously injured. If nobody was, no news was no news.
Saturday night the Bears' starting offense moved the ball well in the first half. Quarterback Jay Cutler was asked how far along the unit is.
"Two preseason games," he said. "That's how far we are, so we've got two more to go to clean up stuff until we get to the Colts (in the season opener)."
Cutler characteristically sounded less excited as some reporters and fans were. Maybe he took into consideration that the other team had injuries, issues and agendas that benefited his team.
The Bears' defense also improved from the first exhibition game to the second by competing with more intensity and less indifference.
Of course, the Bears were playing against a raw rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III and a Redskins offensive line missing three injured starters.
Look, the Bears are a good football team, legitimate playoff contenders and perhaps even championship contenders.
But that was the opinion here before the first day of training-camp calisthenics and the first snap in an exhibition exercise.
Nothing has changed that view either way. No, not even the uncertainty after Brian Urlacher's knee scope last week.
Unless Cutler and a collection of teammates follow Urlacher onto the operating table, nothing much will matter until the Bears play the Colts on Sept. 9 and the Packers four days later.
In the meantime, we still won't be able to keep ourselves from making too much out of not much.
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