The Chicago Bears are not the Detroit Lions, but at the completion of today’s play, they have gotten as far as the Lions did this season, which to say, is out of the playoffs. That comparison is certainly extreme, as the Bears do not have the same amount of holes that the Lions have, but a 9-7 finish that surprised many have clouded severe failures of judgement made by the football leadership of this team.
Perhaps the most glaring failures are with a Chicago Bears defense that opened the season very motivated in a win over the Indianapolis Colts, but sunk to maddening lows in crushing defeats by the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings amongst others. Bears head coach Lovie Smith was asked about replacing defensive coordinator Ron Rivera shorly after the Bears loss to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI. This is where Love broke out his now infamous “Trust Me” speech.
“You should trust me as a head football coach to put us in the best position to win football games,” Smith said. “It’s as simple as that.”
And that was Lovie’s reasoning to why he chose to replace Ron Rivera with BFF Bob Babich. Since Rivera was replaced, the Bears defense has plunged to embarassingly low depths in both prestige and performance. In 2006, teams feared and respected the Bears defense. Ask the Arizona Cardinals, despite then-Coach Dennis Green’s post-game rant. Now, teams just run over the Bears defense. Case in point:
- The Houston Texans racked up 455 yards of total offense and 31 points in a Week 17 victory.
- The Packers ran the Bears for 427 yards and 37 points in Week 11 pasting of the Bears.
- The Vikings racked up 439 yards and 41 points in a Week 7 loss to the Bears.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran up 454 yards and 27 points in a Week 2 Bears debacle.
These are numbers that nearly all Chicago Bears fans find unacceptable. It should be unacceptable to Lovie Smith as well, but somehow, it isn’t, which leads back to the Trust Me speech and the fact that I can no longer trust Lovie Smith to make correct decisions when he has yet to acknowledge that the two biggest staff decisions of his coaching tenure were complete and utter failures (remember the Terry Shea mess?)
Secondly, the Bears personnel decisions and evaluations are skeptical at best and leave even casual fans wondering if the Bears are able to effectively evaluate talent. Consider the players the Bears kept:
- WR/KR Devin Hester signed a $40M contract extension and was made a WR, neutering his return skills (0 TD’s)
- LB Brian Urlacher was given a lucrative contract extension for 88 tackles, no sacks, and no Pro Bowl selection
- DT Tommie Harris signed a large contract extension only to play about a half season due to injury/ineffectiveness
- WR Earl Bennett was drafted to compete for a starting position; he ends up catching 0 passes for the season.
and the players the Bears decided to let go:
- RB Thomas Jones ran for 1,289 yards and 15 total TD’s (13 rushing) for the New York Jets
- WR Bernard Berrian: 48 receptions, 964 yards and 7 TD’s for the Vikings
- RB Cedric Benson: 747 yards, 2TD’s and 20 receptions in 12 games for the Cincinnati Bengals
- WR Mark Bradley: 30 receptions, 380 yards, 3 TD’s in 8 games for the Kansas City Chiefs
The Bears have also missed on numerous players in the draft as well, as noted in past posts. The level of talent on the Bears has receded dramatically since the 2006 Super Bowl season, which means that the Bears braintrust has not made moves in personnel and coaching to build off their success. Now Bob Babich is on the hot seat.
The Bears clearly need to admit that they made severe errors in judgement in replacing Ron Rivera with Bob Babich. They need to admit that they made errors in personnel and they need to correct these errors in the offseason. A 9-7 record is something to build from, but if the failures of judgement are not corrected, this may be the best it will be under Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith.
- Chicago Sun-Times Greg Couch thinks Lovie’s in denial…
- Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh believes that the defense is the top priority for the Bears in 2009
- Mike Inrem of the Daily Herald says the Bears Improbable season just gets more so…
- Bears analyst Tom Thayer thinks the Bears lack a go-to guy at wide receiver
- ESPN’s Kevin Seifert provides his rapid reaction to today’s Bears loss…