In no particular order…
It’s a girl!
Baby Number 2 was welcomed into the world on September 1, 2013. She was born 7 pounds, 5 ounces and 20 inches long. And she’s now a vibrant and healthy three-month-old with a smile to melt a man’s soul. Mama and daddy have managed to stay both healthy and sane. Big sister has been equal parts adoring and adorable as she’s doted on the new addition. Life is good.
Football season ended recently, which is why I suddenly find myself with the time and the energy to be here. We followed up an improbable run to the state championship game in 2012 (after being picked to finish in the bottom half of our conference) with a similarly improbable trip to the quarterfinals. We lost three games on the year, although each of them went down to the last play. We were decidedly short on talent and, by week 5, we were fairly certain as coaches that we’d be damn lucky to win a single playoff game. To have a fourth-quarter lead on a superior opponent and to be within a two-minute drill of the state semifinals was truly a blessing. I couldn’t be more proud of the young men on our team.
What the hell, Bears!?!
From the beginning I was adamantly opposed to Lovie Smith’s firing, and I still am. You simply don’t replace a winning coach unless you have the opportunity to make an immediate upgrade. To fire a head coach coming off a 10-6 season to hire a project out of the CFL? That’s laughable. More importantly, the Bears’ brass cleared out a defensive regime with a history of consistent dominance to hire a coordinator with a proven track record for mediocrity. I give all the credit in the world to Mel Tucker for his willingness to put his ego in check and change his system to suit the wealth of veteran talent he inherited, but I can’t forgive how consistently AWFUL Chicago’s defense has been. Nor can I accept the eagerness with which most commentators try to let them off the hook because of their personnel issues. They were terrible even before the injury bug hit! Sure, you can point to the dramatic improvement of the Bears offense this year – especially in the passing game – and try to justify the coaching change. But that ignores the sweeping changes the Bears made to their offensive roster. Essentially, Phil Emery fired Lovie Smith for the annual underperformance of the offense…then went out and bought all the talent that Lovie Smith’s offenses never had, especially on the line. The only time the Bears’ offense was even remotely as talented as it is now was in 2006. They made it to the Super Bowl that year. In 2010, the Bears made it to the NFC Championship Game with the equivalent of a JV offense compared to their current roster. And now, in 2013, Marc Trestman’s team needs a miracle to even stay in the playoff hunt. So, thank you McCaskey family and thank you Phil Emery for ruining the Bears’ defense and special teams in exchange for an offense that’s statistically impressive but still can’t deliver in critical situations or score enough points to win games against decent opponents. You have no idea how excited I am for these next four weeks!
And, on the subject of What the hell!?!…what’s up with The Walking Dead this year?
I’m sorry, but Sunday’s undeniably intense midseason finale not withstanding, this year has been serious snoozer. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those crass jackwagons who pisses and moans every time an episode goes by without a shot fired or a pile of corpses burned. I heaped boundless praise on season 3, especially in the springtime when the show was at its most dialogue-intensive. I’ve never seen another program that can take two men glaring at each other across a table for an hour and turn it in to sixty minutes of pulse-pounding suspense. But this season’s apparent Ebola outbreak failed to generate the human drama the production team was aiming for. I knew from the end of last season that a holocaust was necessary to cull the sudden influx of extraneous characters the prison took on in the finale, but the mystery plague just didn’t do it for me. Kudos to the production team, though, for delivering a faithful and powerful translation of one of the most memorable (and disturbing) story arcs in the comic series to close out this fall. I’m stoked to find out what February brings!
And, most importantly…
And it’s great to be here. Hope to catch up with you all soon.