Six thoughts on NFL opening weekend.
1. Never fails: as soon as training camp starts, you blink, and the season opener is upon us. Here it is. Don’t blink because if you live in the Chicago area, when you open your eyes, highs will be struggling to reach 30 degrees.
2. Bears versus Colts, opening day. All we have heard about during the preseason is how good Andrew Luck looks, how he is more capable than the average rookie of hitting the ground as a successful starter. And potentially winning his first game. History has proven this can happen-in 1961 rookie quarterback Fran Tarkenton started the very first game in the history of the Minnesota Vikings franchise and shocked the Bears in a 37-13 victory. But even future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning stumbled out of the gate, throwing three interceptions to only one touchdown in a loss in his first professional game. If the Bears hope to have a successful 2012 season, they must focus on week one and win this game that they should win.
3. Having the rare opportunity to listen to sports radio this morning, I heard Brad Biggs recount details on opening days during the Lovie Smith era, and overall the Bears have always showed up in the season opener. Biggs was spot on in his descriptions, all except stating that Adawale Ogunelye injured Matthew Stafford in the 2010 opener. (It was Julius Peppers in his first game as a Bear; Ogunelye wasn’t on the team). Let’s hope that Smith’s ninth opener as Bears coach goes as most of the rest have.
4. When the Bears’ practice squad was announced following final cutdowns, I was a little shocked when I did not at first hear tackle James Brown’s name. Brown is the undrafted free agent from Troy that the Bears signed as an undrafted free agent, a player that some scouts had going as high as the fourth round of the draft. I think the big man has potential, and I was relieved when I heard that he was finally added. Teams can sign any player from another team’s practice squad to their active roster, so hopefully Brown stays safe there for this season anyway. I would imagine if there is any injury to any of the Bears’ three active tackles, Brown would be promoted.
5. Of course we are all worried about how Brian Urlacher is going to play. And he has admitted that his knee will never be what it once was, but that statement would be true of every player that played 13 years at linebacker. Even if Urlacher has a mediocre year, that is probably better than any backup to Urlacher would play. And to me it seems pretty clear that with this being the final year of his contract, this is probably the final year we’ll see #54 in Chicago. I hope the Bears have a plan-and this makes it crystal clear that the window for postseason success narrows even further in 2013. I am more eager for the 2012 season than I have been at any point since 2007, but there are a lot of questions still. How will age affect the defense overall? How will the offensive line play? Will the questionable safeties be able to stay healthy and be effective? Only time will tell.
6. Heard this morning that the Bears will be bringing out their 1940 throwback uniforms again to be worn against the Panthers and Packers. It will be interesting to see how they look with Nike, as opposed to Reebok as they were in 2010.