Oops…Chicago Bears are actually pretty good this year

By S.C. Zuba
Sports Columnist

I was taught at a young age it’s OK to make mistakes.

You can credit my parents for that little nugget of knowledge they shared with me before I can remember. It’s inevitable. At some point, we all will make a mistake—some will be big, some will be small. Some will change your life forever, while others will just make you look bad.

Today, I admit, I made a mistake. I was wrong, and this is my redemption. Fortunately for me, this is one of those mistakes where I just look bad.

Before the start of this Bears season, I pegged this team as a group of misfits who would be lucky to finish the 2010 season at .500. I thought they would finish—once again—in the bottom half of the NFC North and be forgotten by November.

I know I wasn’t alone.

To be fair to myself, heading into this season, let’s look at what the Bears had to offer:

Head Coach Lovie Smith? Bad. Offensive line? Scary bad. Jay Cutler? Hit or miss. Defense? Not too bad. Take that equation and toss in a brand-new offensive and defensive coordinator, and you’ll have a perfect recipe for one mess of a football team.

I believe my preseason predictions were justified. I mean, let’s face it, the Bears did go 0-4 in the preseason. Regardless of how justified I feel, ultimately, I was wrong.

Smith and company somehow took this rag-tag group of football players and turned them into a division-winning, 11-5 football team.

How? That’s a good question—one I won’t pretend to have the answer to. Regardless, the powers that be inside of the Bears’ organization just might actually know what they’re doing.

It’s a scary thought, I know.

In all reality, Smith deserves a good deal of the praise for his “rags-to-riches-in-one-year” plan. Smith took a group that finished 7-9 and in third place in the NFC North just one season ago, and brought them to the top of the league, clinching a first-round playoff bye and the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC.

Not bad, if you ask me.

Coming into the 2010 season, no one’s seat was hotter in the NFL than Smith’s. He was as good as gone. Now, it looks as if he has earned himself a contract extension.

If you remember the last time Smith was awarded an extension with the Bears, he brought that group to the Super Bowl.

Maybe he’ll bring this group to Super Bowl XLV and make a tradition of Super Bowl appearances before contract negotiations.

I sure hope so.

The players in the Bears’ locker room have made it no secret they like to prove naysayers wrong.

Well, Chicago Bears, you prove me wrong, and I’ll admit it.

Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at samuelczuba@gmail.com.

From the Jan. 5-11, 2011 issue

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