“Bears” and “Bulls” Going Backwards Instead of Forward
All of the fans in “Chicago” already know what a disappointment the “Bears'” season has been so far with a record of 5-8 and no post-season play for a third straight year. However, the “Bulls” have fallen on hard times after a decent start to their season as well. The Bulls won six of their first ten games but have lost 11 of their last 14 and their current record is 9-15 at the time of this writing. Could it be that the both teams were cursed with too many lofty “expectations” coming into their respective seasons?
Let’s start with the “Bears”. Despite watching the playoffs the last two seasons, the consensus was that the “Bears” were going to turn to somehow turn the corner this year. One columnist for Sports Illustrated even predicted that the “Bears” would represent the NFC in the Superbowl. Despite an unproven core of receivers and several new players at key positions, it was expected the “Bears” would be a contender in what most people considered a wide-open NFC before the season began. However, injuries on the defensive side of the ball, subpar play by everyone, along with questionable coaching decisions in key moments, have led to a long season for this Bears team. The Bears will have to win their remaining three games just to finish the season at .500; not exactly what everyone had in mind during training camp. The last time the “Bears” were in the playoffs was the year they loss to the Colts in the big game. The level of expectations going into that season were mild compared with how everyone thought the “Bears” would fare this year.
Like the “Bears”, the “Bulls” were expected to take the next step this season as well after giving the Celtics a run for their money in last year’s opening round playoff series that featured seven overtime periods. Their play during that series was supposed to be an indicator of things to come this season. Both injuries and inconsistent play on both ends of the floor have lead to their less than impressive record so far in the season. While the loss of Ben Gordon does play a part in scoring, the “Bulls” have more than enough capable bodies to help fill the void of Gordon’s departure to Detroit. Two and a half years ago (2006-2007 season), was the last time the “Bulls” won a playoff series. It was in fact their first playoff series win since the last championship run in 1998. They swept the defending champion Miami Heat and fell in six games to the Pistons in the second round of the playoffs. The similarity with the “Bears” is that no one gave the “Bulls” much of a chance against the Heat that season and rightfully so. They had been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for three consecutive seasons (2004-2006). Despite the low expectations though, they managed a surprising playoff run and were one good half away from forcing a game 7 against Detroit during the 2007 playoffs. Like the “Bears” though, the Bulls failed to make the playoffs the following year and head coach Scott Skiles was fired because of the team’s poor start.
While every team’s goal should be to play for the championship at the end of the year, it is also important to keep the level of expectations at a realistic level. The reason for this is because no matter how good a team looks in the pre-season or training camp, the games still have to be played. In other words, being able to fly under the radar might have served both of these teams well compared with having to live up to unproven expectations. While that has been the case for the “Bears”, it appears that maybe we expected a little too much from the “Bulls” as well. However, we will have to see how the rest of the season plays out before that can be determined.