(Written by Ken Crawford)
While I haven’t been blogging due to the birth of my third son, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about the Bears, their collapse and the upcoming bowl game. The more I thought about it, the more I realized a singular truth: The Bear’s success and failure have nothing to do with their opposition and everything to do with themselves and their own effort.
I could spend a ton of paragraphs talking about the triple option, but Ragnarok did a great job of it here. I could go over the Bears struggles against it in 2002 and their success against it in 2004. I could talk about the new aspects of Air Force’s attack including a more balanced attack. I could talk about Air Force’s mediocre to good defense and their weak schedule. But all of that, while usually important in previewing a game, is pretty much meaningless for the bowl game.
Because everything important is about the Bears getting their mojo back. The Bears have the potential to be great on both sides of the ball. If you’re worried that the Bears can’t play assignment defense, I’ve got some game film from the Oregon game to show you. If you’re worried the Bears can’t play the physical ball needed to beat a disciplined defense, I’ve got more game film from the Tennessee game to show you. But the problem is the team that beat both Tennessee and Oregon is the same team that more recently stunk it up against Washington who’s usually pathetic defense looked world class against the Bears and Stanford in a game that was as depressingly mediocre as the bowl the Bears have sunk to.
So, do the Bears get their mojo back? I think the honest answer is that I have no idea. That said, here’s my list of reasons why they may:
- The report from beat writers like Jonathan Okanes is that the Bears practices have gotten back to the fun yet intense mode they were in fall practice.
- The month break can heal a lot of emotional wounds
- The month break can heal a lot of physical wounds
- The time off gave Tedford and staff to focus on the lack of team chemistry that is hard to spend time on when practices are focused on game-planning.
- Seniors want to go out on a good note
- It’s the Bears last chance to prove themselves
- The Bears seem to play better when they’re the underdog, something they’ve rarely been despite the tumble
On the other hand, there’s a few reasons that it may not happen:
- Team chemistry is a difficult thing to repair no matter how much time is allowed
- Almost nothing has changed since the Big Game (like injured players who are now available)
- Lack of confidence can be masked for a while, but often re-appears at the first sign of adversity
So which Bears will show up tomorrow?
I’d like to believe that whatever has been wrong with the Bears will have been patched during the break but after listening to myself and my Big Game podcast it may just be that the passing of time helps one to forget just how bad the collapse has been. Add in that having a baby makes everything in the world look more rosy and I don’t trust my desire to be confident. Maybe it’s best summed up by the phrase…
The Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die… but the Bear does worry.