Friday, October 24, 2008

From Detox to Botox

Whoever said, “Never go to bed angry,” never pulled for the Bears. It is irrational but inevitable.

As I collect my thoughts here at “Duffy’s” (a famous detox center in Calistoga), I’m trying to master the 13 Step Program. Bill Wilson’s original 12 step program had to be expanded to 13 —just for Bear fans.

You know step #1. “We admit we are powerless over Cal—that our lives have become unmanageable.

The second step, we are all familiar with. “We believed that a Power greater than ourselves (beer at tailgates) could restore us to sanity.”

I could recite the next 11 steps, but any Cal Fan knows them by heart. As for #8, “Making a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all….” I publically apologize to my wife (and driving her upstairs to do her crossword puzzle in peace), for shouting more than once “Just catch the damn ball!”

Take it from an old slow white guy—of all the ingredients that go into making a play a success, blocking, timing, throwing, deception—the easiest of them all is catching the rock. That receivers or db’s stretch one hand up and tip a ball (thinking they can bring it down and catch it—is one of the plagues of the modern game.

Those of us who grew up on Raymond Berry, Lance Allworth, Fred Belitnikoff, even the sainted Jerry Rice, cringe every time we watch an otherwise outstanding athlete, reach one paw out thinking they will make a circus catch. Bucky Pope, the Cawtaba Claw, could do it and perhaps a few others in today’s modern game (Moss and Owens unfortunately come to mind), but for most it can’t be done.

The consequences, as we saw Saturday night in the desert, are catastrophic. Tipping the ball into the air resulted in what (by all laws of physics) it is intended to do—keeping the ball afloat, longer, before it hits the ground. Alas, that means others have a chance to catch it as well.

And when a loan receiver is in a defensive secondary—guess what? There are more of them than of you. It’s why it turned into another interception. (Alas, in one of life’s great ironies, we missed our one opportunity to return the favor in the first half, and it could have put the game away).

When we were kids the law was simple: If you can’t catch it with two hands—don’t touch it. The tipped pass, interception was a killer. Our dropped tip pass interception opportunity, a back breaker.

Saturday night I counted a legitimate 11 dropped passes. Oh sure, some would have been great catches, but not one of the 11 could not have been caught.

So before one goes after Riley or Longshore, he ought to take that into consideration. Yes, the passes could have been a bit better, but at this level catches have to be made.

Remember Swan and Bradshaw in the Miami Super Bowl against Dallas? It turned into a route, but two super catches in the End zone by Swan made all the difference. No one noticed what a different game it might have been had he not leapt, twisted, and cradled the ball—with two hands, of course.

Give Arizona its due. Their secondary is made up of grown ups. They could hit and they could defend.

It makes one wonder why we refuse to run the ball a second time if we don’t make a minimum of five yards on first. Look at the numbers. We rarely have third and short. If we run on first down, and don’t make five yards we always (yes always--with one exception Sat night) pass on second down. If it’s complete we get the first. If not, it’s third and long. If we gain 7or 8 on first, yes we will run on 2nd.

This has been a trend over the years, and clearly opposing defensive coaches are on to it.

One could count on one hand the times we have run three times in a row in any one game, ever—unless we were attempting to use up time.

So much for the arm chair quarterbacking.

Best did not play in the 4th so one assumes he reinjured that arm. That must be awfully painful. Speaking of injuries, because of injuries to defensive linemen Rulon Davis and Kendrick Payne and a limited Tyson Alualu, the Bears were forced to burn the redshirt year of freshman Trevor Guyton on Saturday. He looks like he’s going to be a player, but there is no doubt that depth is affecting us—as it is all teams—look at UCLA this season.

Tomorrow is UCLA. We’re favored by 17. They beat Stanford, who beat Arizona. Go figure.

By any measurement, we are almost sure to have a successful season—one we would have died for back in the 90’s before Tedford got here. The Rose Bowl is still conceivable—BCS unlikely.

Anyway, if we can’t iron out the wrinkles, there’s always Botox—-we’ve already got Detox.

Like the addicts that we are, we just have to try to handle this one Saturday at a time. Fear of the D.T.’s keeps us addicted and we set ourselves up for punishment week after week. We can’t give it up. We should probably all avoid Fridays, for their nearness to Saturday’s intoxicates us with the temptation to head on down to Strawberry Canyon on Saturdays where hope beats eternal—-but disappointment hides behind every tree.

Hey! Come to think of it, there are no trees. Maybe tomorrow will be different! Here’s hoping.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70