Did I read in one recent magazine report that the Bears were one of the two worst teams in the NFL? Right there with the catfish-like, bottom-feeding Cleveland Browns?
ESPN’s football ‘‘professor,’’ John Clayton, has the Bears 25th in his power rankings, out of 32 teams. A small step up.
Sports Illustrated has the Bears last in the NFC North and no factor in anything.
Fox Sports puts them at No. 29, with a ‘‘talent-deprived defense.’’
Anybody else want a shot?
The Sporting News has them 26th. ChicagoFootball.com has them 27th.
So when I picked them to go 7-9, it was pure optimism mixed with dart-at-a-board randomness, combined with a firm belief in NFL parity, with all teams steadily retreating to or rising toward the norm.
According to all those preseason experts, however, a 3-13 or 4-12 record would be about right for the Bears in 2015. Maybe even 2-12.
Why even watch? Starting with this Packers-Bears kickoff game. I mean, is it any fun knowing your home team is pitiful, then having to watch it defoliate into a skeleton tree over the course of four months?
So let’s dig for possibilities of hope.
Shovel, please. Thank you.
Whew, this is hard work.
I think I found three. Maybe four.
You can read and ponder, or simply beat your head against the misery tree until that final Bears game against the Lions on Jan. 3.
1. John Fox
He’s a real head coach who has done this before, with success. And he comes with a solid offensive and defensive crew led by Adam Gase and Vic Fangio, both of whom were batted around as possible NFL head coaches last year.
Making assistants into first-time head coaches used to be the Bears’ modus operandi (Latin for dart-throwing mixed with cheapness). Witness Mike Ditka, Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith. And then there was Canadian expert Marc Trestman, pretending to be a head coach when actually he was a moonlighting professor of antiquities.
So if a head coach means anything to a team’s success, Fox is a big — OK — normal-sized plus.
2. Jay Cutler
Ridicule him all you want. Make fun of the ‘‘Cutler face.’’ (I have.) Comment on how he doesn’t like the playoffs, has an instinct for turnovers and has been here too long. True, true, true.
But. BUT! He has a strong arm, is moderately athletic and has studied offensive schemes so long that if he were a linguist, he would be fluent in a dozen languages.
And. And! He is better than many young quarterbacks whom some teams are resigned to playing, and the guy has thrown for almost 28,000 career yards. That counts for something. Maybe Gase can get Cutler to do the simple things well.
Simple things done well can lead to success, especially if other teams screw up. Which they do.
3. The schedule
The Cardinals, Raiders, Chiefs, Vikings, Rams, 49ers, Redskins and Buccaneers are all beatable. Even by a lousy team. And the Bears play the Lions and Vikings twice.
Also, NFL teams picked to be great or terrible often surprise ‘‘experts’’ — read, fantasy football geeks — and everything predicted turns upside down. And experts say, ‘‘Who knew?’’
So, with luck — and isn’t luck the biggest factor in all our lives? — the Bears can beat some of these teams. Beat one of them twice and, holy Super Bowl! — that’s one-quarter of the way to eight wins. Which is .500. Which would be wild success for a team picked to suck scum from the bottom of the tank.
4. I got kind of stuck here
Reason four. Let’s see.
I said four reasons for optimism. I did.
Oh, yes, this last reason is emotional and debatable. (But what isn’t, my friends?)
These are the Bears. Correct that, Da Bears. The freaking Chicago Bears!
These are not the Jaguars or the Chargers or some sissy-lame pseudo-team like the Titans.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.