I started writing a recap of every team in the NFL. I was going to rip most teams to shreds and really only give like…three teams any credit whatsoever (Broncos, Patriots, 49ers if you’re really that curious). I was building my list alphabetically.
I mocked the Cardinals. I gave credit to like, one-fifth of the Falcons. If you added the Ravens, Bills and Panthers together, you’d come up with one NFL team.
Then I came to the Monsters of the Midway. The Original Team. Papa Bear George Halas’s squad.
The Chicago Bears.
That’s right. My beloved Bears. I started writing their little recap and it kept going and going and going and go– you get the idea. It wasn’t funny anymore. Hell, it wasn’t FUN anymore! This season wasn’t fun. There’s very little that’s fun about this football team.
Listen, I love these guys. I love Marshall and Forte and even Cutler. I think Jeffrey is going to turn out to be a very above-average receiver. The defense is way above-average and probably playing well beyond what their age dictates.
This team started 7-1. SEVEN AND ONE!! And since then they went 3-5.
There was no legit offensive production or improvement. Yes, I know there were a lot of injuries (Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey, Earl Bennett, Michael Bush et al.) and I know the offensive line seemed to change by the drive and not even by the game. If you go back and look at some of the first few games (only one of those victories against a team that made the playoffs) the defense scored as many, if not more, touchdowns as the offense.
In fact, the defense might have been one of the highest rated offenses in the entire league. The problem came when that defense hit a dry spell and the offense had to actually do its job. The offense had been revamped multiple times in the last decade. Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice…it didn’t matter. No one improved the situation and eventually that falls on the head coach.
This morning, Jay Cutler was doing his weekly radio show for ESPN 1000 based in Chicago. He found out on the air that Lovie had been fired and mentioned how it will be a sad day at Halas Hall. He wished he did more offensively to help Lovie. And then the bomb: he was sad because Lovie Smith had become friends with so many of the players.
You know what, Lovie? Your job isn’t to be a friend. Your job isn’t to coddle. Your job is to take a bunch of grown men, get them all on the same page and provide a successful product for the people paying your salary. I’m so glad that Brian Urlacher loves the fact that you “go to bat” for the players and don’t call them out publicly. That’s so cute. This team was too comfy and cozy to win big boy football and it cost the nice guy head coach his job.
Here’s an idea, how about Lovie Smith performs the duties written out in his contract? Namely: WIN. Win the division. Go to the playoffs. Compete at a high level every year. It started out great: A 5-11 team his first year improved by six games and won the NFC North. At 13-3 the Bears repeated as division champs and went to the Super Bowl.
Chicago was happy. We knew the Bears were finally back and that we had a defense to hang our hats on. What we didn’t know is that we had already peaked. The next three seasons, the Bears were mired in mediocrity; beating most bad teams and losing to most good teams. In 2010, the Bears squeaked into another division championship before losing to what was in reality the best team in the division: rival Green Bay.
When all is said and done we can look back and realize that in nine years, the Bears only made the playoffs three times. In nine years, Lovie went 8-11 against the Packers including that postseason loss. In nine years, Lovie went 81-63 overall.
These numbers just aren’t good enough for Chicago. Chicago is the birthplace of professional football. Chicago appropriately moved on.
I wish Lovie the best of luck, I really do. He seems like a very nice guy and a tolerable coach. I hope he lands in a smaller market where hovering around .500 football is good enough.
It’s just not good enough for us.