My name is Ralph, and I've been a Chicago Bears fan since the day my Uncle Ernie teased my brother and I about having matching Urlacher and Briggs jerseys. The good ol' days, as they say, when Rex Grossman was the "face of our franchise" and Thomas Jones was a three-down back who made defensive backs look like miniature action figures. Ever since then, when I was eight or nine years old, there have been very few "good ol' days" and a lot more really, truly terrible slogs of time.
Diary, I think it's about time we take a quick little trip through these times and eventually land in the present. Because I think that maybe, just maybe, I may be able to regain that youthful hopefulness that I once cherished so greatly...
Let's start with the heartthrob of my teenage years: Jay Cutler. When Jay Cutler devolved from a genuine franchise quarterback into a cigarette smoking gunslinger. This is a screenshot of the results that occur when you type in "Jay Cutler meme" into a search engine:
Now, I'm all for fun and games, but this was too disheartening to overcome. If I were to type in "Tom Brady meme" to a similar search engine, I'm sure that it would result in something along the lines of him being a sponsor for men's Uggs, or perhaps his tedious haircare routines. If I were to type in "Peyton Manning meme," it'd likely result in somebody photoshopping the state of Texas onto his forehead. Those results aren't insulting, they're just ways for people to poke fun at the two of the greatest athletes ever. The Jay Cutler results aren't poking fun, they're a direct reflection of a player's attitude which mirrored the entire city's feelings towards him. Watching the Chicago Bears over the last decade has likely resulted in the inception of millions of different nicotine addictions. So, in a way, the Cutler meme is a perfect metaphor for the reality of being a member of the Chicago Bears faithful. It's a long, grueling, and damning road that gets your hopes up high and ultimately results in decrepit lungs and yellow teeth.
Let's go back to 2016, when everything came to a crumble as we went 1-4 with Cutler under center and his departure to a retirement community posing as a football organization became a reality. Cutler was a Dolphin, and Chicago was stuck with a rotating cast of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley (remember him?) behind center. It was in that exact moment that I came to the realization that I was hopeless. Insignificant. I'm merely a fan of a relatively mediocre sports team and my existence is meaningless because my favorite team is pathetic.
Now, let's fast forward through the hellish purgatory that was the Trubisky era because I completely erased that portion of my life from my super-computer brain. Here we are today, several weeks away from having to watch Andy Dalton evade a defense led by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Meanwhile, a precious seed by the name of Justin Fields will sit on the sideline and await his turn. The ever-so stubborn Coach Nagy will likely stay true to his word— which is a perplexing situation that begs the question: Why would a coach ever commit to a quarterback instead of embracing competition?
I am of two (or three) minds regarding the infamous Dalton-Fields situation. These are the ways that this scenario could shape up, each of which I’m convincing myself to be comfortable in:
Plan A: Andy Dalton starts the first several weeks of the season until he demonstrates that he isn’t mobile enough to play behind a mediocre offensive line and generate big plays or more than eight First Downs in a 60-minute game. Fields takes the field for the first time as the starter in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions and torched them for 350+ yards and 4 TDs.
Plan B: Coach Nagy, who is formerly the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, follows Andy Reid’s Alex Smith-Patrick Mahomes recipe and allows Justin to preheat on the sideline until Week 18 where he flashes all of the brilliance that he’d put on display every week in practice leading up to that. There are 20-second video clips on Twitter of Fields throwing side-arm dimes through two defenders into the breadbasket that is Allen Robinson’s monstrous catch radius, and we Bears fans just have to remain patient for one more year.
OR Nagy can just say, “Fuck it. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen in this God-forsaken city, put him in the trenches and he’ll lead us to victory,” and Bears fans incite a joyous riot that rivals Travis Scott’s Lollapalooza fiasco.
What will happen with this ambiguous quarterback decision? Only the Lord knows, but I will continue to pray for the day that I get to see Number 1 hit-stick a helpless defensive back on a zone read. For now, I’ll settle for witnessing greatness in the preseason, and continue to dream of what reality could be like if only the head coach of my favorite sports organization would grow a pair of balls and start the franchise cornerstone. One can only hope. Until next time, my dearest diary.