But Chicagoans are being awfully quiet about their beloved Bears this year. The game Sunday was about Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick, Version II, proving that he and the Eagles were for real.
Instead, the Bears stuffed him, sacking him four times and giving him his first loss as a starter. They beat the Eagles 31-26 to move to 8-3 and – shhh -- all alone into first place in the NFC North.
The game positively, absolutely, definitively proved that the Bears are, or might be, um, well uh, for real.
The star quarterback of the day was not Vick, who couldn't break from the pocket -- "I can always run when I want to,'' he said. Easy to say now.
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The star QB was Jay Cutler. He hit long passes for the Bears, ran when he had to, took big hits when it was best. He threw four touchdown passes and had a quarterback rating for the day of 146.2.
If you don't know what that rating means exactly, know this:
It was 10 points short of perfect.
"It means a lot, but we're trying to get to the Super Bowl,'' receiver Earl Bennett said. "Everyone knows we're one of the best teams in the league.''
Look, as of now, not even a city always looking to thump its chest has been willing to say that. No one knows that the Bears are one of the best teams.
In 1985, the year Bears fans still live in, they were showing the "Super Bowl Shuffle" video in storefront windows about now. People were crowding outside one window, singing and dancing, and then moving down a block to sing and dance some more.
Now, the Bears are the quietest, best story in the NFL.
"Perception this time of year really doesn't matter a lot,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "We knew this was a big game, and whether we've gotten enough respect or not, none of that really matters, either.''
Are the Bears a great team? No.
No way. They don't even have an offensive line. But while the NFL has great players, it is without a great team. And the Bears have a super fast defense, excellent special teams and a star quarterback.
They also are on the most amazing injury-free run, and they seem to have stumbled onto one hell of a coaching staff. They have won four games in a row.
Put it all together and, well, why not them?
Of course, everything also could fall apart at any moment. Shh. Chicago knows.
"The mindset was, of course, they are one of the top offenses coming in,'' Smith said. "And if you claim to be a top defense, you want to play the best offense around with a special player.''
This is the defense's team, but the question, bluntly, is whether to believe in Smith and Cutler.
Cutler was brought in to give Chicago a star quarterback for the first time since anyone can remember. He has the big arm, and can make things happen.
But he has never been to the playoffs. Never. Last year, he was Mr. Interception. But this year, he's starting to deliver, more and more each week.
"It's a new system. It takes time,'' he said. "It takes time for everyone to learn it. It takes time for me to learn it.''
Cutler was developing toward stardom in Denver, but left before his time. With the Bears, he has been brought down by a weak offensive line, and a coaching staff that didn't know how to adjust.
This year, Smith continued his pattern of firing the bulk of his staff and hiring again. And it's working.
I believe in Cutler. But Smith?
Understand this: Smith was done, gone, fired. This was his last year, for sure, and the only reason he's still here now is that the Bears didn't want to pay a big coach's salary to a guy who wasn't on the sidelines.
He led the Bears to one Super Bowl, but that was behind a great defense, too. Then he dumped the defensive coordinator when it was over because he didn't want anyone else getting credit.
Smith's handling of assistant coaches over the years has been comical, showing a real lack of leadership. When he arrived in Chicago, his idea was to instill the enthusiasm of college football into the NFL. So he hired a staff of assistants from colleges, without NFL experience.
Big mistake. The players had no respect for their own coaches.
Since then, Smith has scapegoated his staff over and over, put his friend and yes-man, Bob Babich, in way over his head to run the defense and set a world record for firing assistants. He has argued for years that the Bears are a running team.
This year, in Smith's last chance, he hired Mike Martz, a passing nut and former NFL head coach, as the offensive coordinator. He hired Rod Marinelli, another former NFL head coach, to run the defense.
And he brought in former Vikings head coach Mike Tice to run the offensive line. He has taken a welcome mat of a line and turned it into something manageable.
Smith has come all the way from wanting college coaches on staff to wanting NFL head coaches. He has either learned or has just stumbled and bumbled onto something.
I'm going with Option B. But who cares?
It is all fitting together perfectly for the Bears. There's no turning back now, Bears fans.
Time to believe.
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