Posted by sportsmaven on October 4, 2010
In case you are wondering why the Chicago Bears get very little if any respect from the national sports media, then you haven’t been watching tonight’s game against the New York Giants. Opportunities to get a nationally televised game on your schedule are few, and yet with the exception of last Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears have treated those opportunities to quote the NFL Network’s Warren Sapp, “like a blind dog in a meat house”. Now I don’t know what that means exactly, but it doesn’t sound too good to me.
Respect is something that is earned on the field of play. For the Bears defense, they played their hearts and souls out all night and deserve all the game balls that any team has to offer a unit. Conversely, the Bears offense, and the offensive line in particular, have put the Bears national reputation back in the proverbial trash can, overshadowing all the good things the Bears have done this season. You think the Giants went off on Bears QB’s tonight? Wait until you hear how the national media tees off on the Bears.
The offensive line is a disaster from the top down. the Bears line gave up 10 sacks tonight…9 in the FIRST HALF! If Jerry Angelo is not bringing in a parade of offensive lineman to Halas Hall starting tomorrow, he would be as neglectful a manager as the captain of the Titanic, the guy who was noticeably absent as his ship rammed into the iceberg that would take it straight to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t want to pin all the blame on the lack of blocking. Jay Cutler didn’t do his lineman any favors and neither did Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
The longer this game continues, the more inept the offensive line looks. There may not be any more room in Lovie Smith’s doghouse after this game for those who truly belong. Somewhere, a vindicated Dennis Green is watching this game and telling his dog how right he was about these Chicago Bears.
I have spoken all week about this game being the season for the Bears, and not in the same manner of desperation of which this game is the season for the New York Giants. Playing on the national stage of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, this game was supposed to be a defining moment for a Bears team that many have had doubts about since the opening game of the season. Unfortunately for the Bears, this game has cemented the many opinions of those outside of Chicago, that the Bears are more pretenders than contenders.
In the coming weeks, the commentary will be that the Bears beat the Detroit Lions on a rules technicality, beat the Dallas Cowboys by pure luck, and won the Packers game because the Packers decided to commit 18 penalties to beat themselves. The Bears were considered by many to be the worst 3-0 in the NFL, maybe in NFL history.
Let’s make no mistake, the Bears didn’t lose to a good team tonight. Outside of the outstanding front 4, this Giants team is horrendous. This is a bad loss for the Bears, a loss that can send even the best of seasons spiraling downward. We’ll see if the Bears can recover from this disaster. Now next week’s game against the Carolina Panthers becomes the new season defining game…..
Update: This post was the first post of the Sportsmaven blog written exclusively on the Apple iPad. I used the WordPress app, which is pretty good, but still in it’s developmental stages. The writing experience has been very good and I used the touch keyboard, which I found quite reponsive. While I had no major issues with typing on the type pad, I know some people do. I will continue to use the iPad to write blog entries going forward.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Dennis Green, Detroit Lions, green bay packers, Halas Hall, Jay Cutler, Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, mike martz, New York Giants, Titanic, warren sapp | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on October 19, 2009
The optimistic Chicago Bears fans will say the bounces just didn’t go the Bears way in tonight’s Sunday night nationally televised game against the Atlanta Falcons. The realist will look at the same game and say that the Bears found yet another way to themselves in front of a nationwide audience, losing on the road to the Falcons 21-14. The Bears treat nationally televised games like a child’s trip to the dentist. Lots of fumbling, mental and physical mistakes and stupid penalties marred tonight’s latest sub-par prime time performance. Once again, there is a big question mark hanging over the head of Bears head coach Lovie Smith when it comes to the quality of weekly game-time preparation.
(AP Photo/John Amis)
The Bears looked rusty from the outset of tonight’s game, treating the red zone more like a demilitarized zone on the offensive side of the ball. Execution in the red zone, offensively, hurt the Bears tremendously. Bears RB Matt Forte’s two fumbles in a row inside the 5-yard line was the missed opportunity that was the difference maker. Forte began his careers with an amazing 2 fumbles in 480 touches before those 2 consecutive fumbles on the goal line. Defensively, the Bears started strong, with 3 straight three-and-outs to start the game…..until the no-huddle neutralized the Bears defense. Combined with the untimely turnovers, the Bears continued to not just shoot themselves in the foot, but empty the entire clip along the way.
Huge penalties by OT Orlando Pace and OG Frank Omiyale on the final drive of the game killed a promising charge led by QB Jay Cutler and various Bear receivers who are improving with each passing week. Cutler didn’t walk away without his small share of blame, with his 2 ill-timed interceptions and more than a couple of balls thrown behind or overthrown to receivers. At this moment, the Bears offensive line is the glaring weak point of the team. The lack of successful run blocking has stuck out like a sore thumb this season.
At any rate, all the Bears demons came out tonight. Two Sunday night, NBC prime time games, two embarrassing, bone headed performances. Listening to NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth describe the play of the Bears is like listening to a sadistic parent criticize the performance of a shell-shocked, underachieving child. The contrast between his analysis of the Bears and the Falcons was virtually night and day. It’s almost as bad as listening to former analyst John Madden’s love for anything Brett Favre. Something about NBC Sunday Night Football brings out the dark side of once promising, talented analysts. Mr. Collinsworth, if you want to see a top notch analyst in action, tune in to ESPN’s Ron Jaworski for a lesson in expert analysis.
Upon further examination of the remaining Chicago Bears schedule for 2009, there are 3 more nationally televised games left on the schedule, plus the NBC Sunday night flex schedule that could potentially add additional prime time opportunities for the Bears. At this rate, the Bears could be flexed out of the playoffs by NBC and Cris Collinsworth, or their unmitigated, performance anxiety brought about by prime-time television.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Atlanta Falcons, Brett Favre, Chicago Bears, Cris Collinsworth, Frank Omiyale, Jay Cutler, John Madden, Lovie Smith, Matt Forte, NBC, Orlando Pace, red zone, Ron Jaworski | 1 Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 29, 2009
Change had to come. You knew it, the guy next to you knew it too. If you’ve watched the Chicago Bears all season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, there was an air of change swirling, rustling the leaves, blowing wildly in the wind. The offense was an early and pleasant surprise that slowly morphed into what we all thought it would be, but the cornerstone unit of this franchise, the defense, was like the two year recession of the American economy. Something had to change.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith takes over Chicago Bears defense
The media’s favorite fall guy was Bears defensive coordinator Bob Babich, but he was just a front man. The real finger pointing started the day Bears head coach Lovie Smith announced the departure of then defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and naming linebackers coach Babich his replacement. Smith followed that up with a plea for people to trust him when it comes to the welfare of his Chicago Bears football team. When the argument resorts to pulling a “Trust Me” card, that’s was a sure sign to run away, don’t buy it, red-flag warning.
Something had to change after two years of sub-par performance of a unit paid like the elite, but performed very unordinary and uninspired. Just like the legacy of President Barack Obama, who will forever live on his phrases of more accountability, “Yes, we can” and personal responsibility, Lovie Smith’s legacy will live on his most memorable words too, “Trust Me”.
His legacy will also be square in the crosshairs of his decisions concerning the coaching staff, bringing in former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli to coach the defensive line (and take the title of Asst. Head Coach), moving Babich back to linebackers coach (retaining the defensive coordinator title in name only), where he actually experienced great success with LB’s Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher garnering regular Pro Bowl appearances under his tutelage, and hiring veteran defensive backs coach and ex-Chicago Bear defensive back Jon Hoke to coach the secondary for the Bears. The biggest move, however, is the announcement that Smith, himself, will be calling the defensive plays next season.
Smith was arguably one of the best defensive coodinators in the NFL, leading a defense that took the St. Louis Rams to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. Smith’s defense was known for being an aggressive defense, forcing 38 turnovers and 4 defensive TD’s. Smith taking over primary play calling duties from Bob Babich is seen as a strong positive move for restoring the bite in the Bears defense. One way or another, it definitely will be the move that cements his Chicago Bears legacy, for good or bad.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Barack Obama, Bob Babich, Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, Jon Hoke, Lance Briggs, Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli, Ron Rivera, Super Bowl XXXVI | 4 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on December 29, 2008
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.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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:
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.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Arizona Cardinals, Bernard Berrian, Bob Babich, Brian Urlacher, Cedric Benson, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, David Haugh, Dennis Green, Detroit Lions, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, green bay packers, Greg Couch, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jerry Angelo, Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Seifert, Lovie Smith, Mark Bradley, Mike Inrem, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Ron Rivera, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Terry Shea, Thomas Jones, Tom Thayer, Tommie Harris | 5 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on October 13, 2008
In football, coaching is an important facet of the game. As you move up the levels of football, from pee wee to high school to college, the gap between the knowledge and ability of the coaching staff as compared to the ability of the players to execute the game plan the coaching staff puts together gets smaller and smaller. In the NFL that gap is small, but the level and quality of play takes a huge leap from college football. Typical NFL personnel practice hours a day, every day as practice is primary to making the gap between coaching and execution/ability as small as possible.
Today’s Chicago Bears game against the Atlanta Falcons was a case study in how wide the gap can become between coaching and player execution. Three plays in today’s 22-20 loss for the Bears sums up how the 2008 version of the Chicago Bears consistently lose winnable games with their inconsistent play and coaching.
First play was the third and goal play on the goal line stand. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner likes to get cute and call plays for FB Jason McKie. Sometimes they work, but more often than not, they don’t. McKie is a nice fullback, but why get cute with your 4th best RB when you can give your best RB 4 tries at the goal line. The ball should have went to all world RB Matt Forte. You have to go with your best guy in key times. Turner didn’t do that and when he realized it, it was too late.
Second play was the squib kick. Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith said the reason they called the squib kick was that the coverage units were tired. Calling a questionable strategy because your team is not conditioned to run the right strategy? Lovie Smith has a reputation for running easy going camps. Training camp is the time to work on conditioning. Tired in Week 6? Will it get any better by Week 15? If this truly was the reason to call the squib kick, it was a poor coaching decision. The end result validated that 100 times over.
The last play was the base defense the Bears chose for the final offensive play with :06 left in the game. The Bears may or may not have called the correct defensive set, but due to previous injuries to 4 other defensive backs in this game, the Bears were forced to play a player that they acquired just 19 days ago. To compound the situation, the call didn’t cover the sideline and account for the only pattern the Falcons could have run to make the completion and still have time to attempt the game winning FG. Bad decisions, game ending loss.
The Bears played another out of sync game today, with only the offense having a decent day. The defense came in with a game plan to stop Falcons RB Michael Turner, which they did. But they never stopped Falcons QB Matt Ryan or any of the Falcons receivers. Didn’t make adjustments to that game, thus Ryan was virtually untouched today. Special teams play today was about as bad as I’ve seen in Lovie Smith’s tenure.
Although today’s performance by the Bears can be and should be attributed to the players, I believe the coaching staff is equally responsible. The Bears 3 losses are by a total of 8 points combined. That 8 points is mostly due to being outcoached in every game this season, save for the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions games. The Bears coaching staff has consistently gameplanned not to lose games. Not only is that a defeatist attitude, but it shows no confidence in the talent that is on the roster. That’s what takes what should be a very solid 6-0 team and turns it into a mediocre 3-3 team.
Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: Atlant Falcons, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Jason McKie, Lovie Smith, Matt Forte, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Ron Turner | Leave a Comment »