Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bears Bye Week

I haven't posted in awhile, partly because the Bears are off this week and partly because I've had a minor (hopefully) health issue. I watched the Bears/Redskins game from a hospital bed last Sunday. I'm not sure which was scarier--being in the hospital or watching Cutler throw four interceptions to DeAngelo Hall. Cutler got more than adequate protection in the second half of that game, but still found a way to almost single-handedly lose it. Cutler's performance was inexcusable, regardless of the offensive line or running game issues. You can't turn the ball over five times. I don't care how bad the play calling is. Five turnovers? Franchise quarterbacks don't do that. But, due to my health scare, it was one of those rare games where I didn't get too wrapped up in the outcome. I watched the game more as a distraction than anything else.

Here's my analysis through seven games. The Bears aren't a very good team, especially on offense. They don't play with confidence, they can't consistently execute, and they don't seem to have an identity. The defense has done a pretty remarkable job most of the season considering the offense. Peppers has made some plays, but he hasn't been anywhere near as dominant as I thought he'd be. Briggs and Urlacher have played really well, especially early on. The secondary is barely average. The special teams, though, are amazing as usual. But, this team will be lucky to eight games this season, and I'll be stunned if they make the playoffs. They've lost back-to-back games at home against below average teams. At this point, I'm not sure they can be beat Buffalo next week. It won't be an easy game for the Bears. No games are easy for the Bears. They had a chance to distance themselves from the rest of the division with the two home games against the Seahawks and Redskins, but they started to show their true colors. If they manage to limp into the playoffs, it might be enough to save Jerry Angelo's and Lovie Smith's job, which is ridiculous considering they should've been fired last year.

If they can find any consistency on offense, they could be a decent team. Just decent enough to barely miss the playoffs or get trounced badly in the first round. Or, it could be a really, really long rest of the season if they keep turning the ball over, failing on third down, and killing themselves in the red zone. As always, I'm hoping for the best and expecting the worst.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Redskins vs. Bears Preview

Before I get to my preview, I feel I should clear up a few things from my blog about the Seahawks game. Since this is my first season blogging about the Bears, I now know that it is a bad idea to write a game review within hours of the completion of the game. I made the mistake of letting my frustration cloud my judgment. It has been my goal to write a passionate blog from my perspective of a lifelong, somewhat knowledgeable fan. While I stand by much of what I wrote, I think I need to clarify my perspective on Jay Cutler. After re-reading what I wrote, it sounds like I'm ready to return to Ron Turner and Kyle Orton. That's not what I meant. I think I had unrealistic expectations for Jay Cutler that he couldn't possibly live up to. I remember saying to numerous people that since the Bears won nine games in 2008, then Cutler should be at least a two game improvement over Orton. So, I thought the Bears could win 11 in 2009. I realize now that Jay's skill set, in and of itself, obviously cannot improve the fortunes of a team that has struggled seemingly forever to find a consistent passing game. I still love his potential and he amazes me with some of the throws he can make. But, teaming him with Mike Martz was a bad idea. You don't give a pyromaniac a flame thrower. The Bears should have found a coordinator who would've been willing to run some version of the West Coast offense, especially knowing their offensive line would be a liability. A short passing game is needed to be successful in the NFL today, and it is even more necessary for the Bears due to their woeful protection.

The Bears organization really put themselves in a terrible position by not removing Angelo and Smith this off season. If this season turns out to be Lovie's last stand, then Cutler will have to learn yet another new offense next year. That is the quickest way to stunt the growth of a quarterback. So, I'm stuck with a terrible quandary. I want the Bears to win each week and be a playoff contender. But, if that happens this year, then Lovie and Angelo will be back next year. In the long run, I don't see how these two men can lead this team to becoming perennial contenders. Hopefully, they'll prove me wrong with a deep playoff run this year and a strong off season focused on rebuilding the offensive line. Either way, I'm still happy we got Cutler. The trade was not a mistake. But, he still needs cut down on the bad decisions, and the rest of the offense needs to figure out what the hell is going on.

Redskins vs Bears Preview

I was really hoping that the next time Mike Shanahan was roaming the sidelines at Solider Field it would've been as coach of the Bears. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. He now comes to Chicago as coach of the 3-3 Redskins. They've beaten Green Bay and Dallas this season, just like the Bears. They've got a fairly mobile quarterback with a strong arm, just like the Bears. At first glance, I was really worried about this game. After the Bears 3-1 start, I thought they'd beat Seattle and Carolina, lose to Washington, and beat Buffalo. The Seattle game threw a wrench in those plans. But, now I think the Bears can win this game, mostly because I can't see them losing back-to-back games at home.

The Redskins, like most teams this year, are tough to figure out. They currently rank last in overall defense (420 yds/game) and 15th in offense (336.8 yds/game). The Colts put up a ton of yards against them, so the defensive stats could be a little misleading. They have some talent on defense with Brian Orakpo being the one that worries me the most. He leads them with five sacks this year, so the Bears will need to account for him like they did against Clay Matthews. Landry has made some big plays, too, so Cutler will need to know where he is on every play.

On offense, McNabb continues to be productive, albeit inconsistent. His rating is 78.8 this year and he's thrown five touchdowns and five picks. He'll take chances down the field, and I worry that Moss could get behind the Bears secondary if the pass rush is as anemic as it has been for stretches this year. Peppers needs to make up for his disappearing act last game, and the defense as a whole needs to play with more urgency. I expect a better overall defensive performance, especially from Tillman, who Mike Williams torched on Sunday. The Redskins running game is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, so their offensive line is getting some push. Brian Iwuh filled in nicely for Lance Briggs last week, but he is not a difference maker. Hopefully, Briggs can play this week. Urlacher is having a great season, but they are a different defense when both are in there.

Ok, stop me if you heard this before. The Bears offensive line/protection will be the key to this game. If Cutler can get any time to throw the ball, this is a dangerous offense. Martz, who I've officially broken up with, can't continue to put Cutler in bad situations. Even if the Bears are averaging two yards per carry, it'll still put them in manageable 3rd down situations. This line will not produce 218 yards rushing every game like they did against the Panthers, but Martz can't simply abandon the running game if the score is within seven to ten points. Forte is a long-strider who needs 18-20 carries in order to increase his chances of breaking a long run. Martz also needs to call dump passes to Forte, Olsen, and Taylor more. He needs to put Forte and Taylor in the backfield together more. He needs to stop calling seven-step drops for every pass play. I should just copy and paste this paragraph for every preview. Converting some 3rd downs will help, too. They have three 3rd down conversions in October and all of those came against the Panthers. They are worst in the league (17.6%) at converting 3rd downs. I guess it can only go up from here, right? Right?

The special teams continues to be a serious weapon for the Bears. It's great to see Hester get his mojo back, and Manning is a ferocious runner. I think Manning was a tailback college. I wonder if they've ever considered using him on short yardage carries?

I think the Bears will come out fired up, get some turnovers, and beat the Redskins. This is an important game heading into the bye week. These are the games they need to win especially considering their remaining schedule (Vikings twice, Dolphins, Eagles, Patriots, Jets, Packers).

Bears 24, Redskins 17

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bears Lose, Mike Martz Officially Wears Out Welcome

Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Mike Martz is an arrogant, stubborn, pathetic excuse of an offensive coordinator. I had been cautiously optimistic heading into the season, and I saw some good things during the first few games. But, after the Giants game and the awful play calling against the Seahawks, I'm ready for the Mike Martz/Lovie Smith/Jerry Angelo era to be over. Martz continued to call seven-step drops all game long when it was obvious the offensive line didn't have a clue as to how to stop blitzers coming off the edge. The sad thing is I watched the last Seattle game on NFL Rewind, and they did the same thing. Um, don't NFL teams have access to the internet? Were they not prepared for that to happen? Ridiculous. Throw in the fact that I'm now convinced that Jay Cutler will never be an efficient NFL quarterback. He is a throwback to the AFL when athletic quarterbacks with strong arms would heave the ball down the field and just hope for good things to happen. If you combine his style of play with Mike Martz, you get exactly what you've seen so far this season. They can score in four plays, but they can't sustain drives. They are the worst team in the NFL on third down conversions. The WORST. With all that "talent" on offense (Cutler, Forte, Knox, Olsen), they can't convert third downs? And, they are atrocious is the red zone. Again, all of that is a function of Mike Martz's all or nothing offense.

Seahawks 23, Bears 20

Ok, I just need to get this off my chest. I predicted the Bears to win a close game (26-23). I posted my preview in two separate locations, and everyone said I was wrong and the Bears would win a blowout. Well, this game went nearly exactly how I thought it would. Hasselbeck was efficient, accurate, and wily. The Bears defense couldn't stop a slant, couldn't stop the draw play over and over, and they couldn't generate any pass rush. And, no one thought to tell the d-lineman that when a quarterback is throwing short, get your hands up! I thought there'd be a return for a touchdown, and lo and behold, Hester took one back. Of course, it was too little too late, mostly because of all the reasons I listed in the first paragraph.

The Bears are 4-2. I thought they'd win this game, lose to Washington next week, and beat the Bills after their bye week. That would put them at 6-2. Right now, after this loss and how badly they looked on offense, I'm pretty sure they'll lose next week and probably barely beat an awful Bills team, which would put them at 5-3. That is optimistic. I think the Bears used up all of their magic this season against the Cowboys and Packers. This is not a playoff team. They simply do not pass the eyeball test. How many times have they actually beaten a team and looked good? Maybe the Cowboys game. That's it. They moved the ball well against the Lions, but they turned it over a bunch of times and the defense nearly blew that game. They took advantage of 18 penalties to beat the Packers, and the Panthers game is barely worth mentioning. I have tried to remain reserved in my praise this season because, deep down, I knew this team was bound for 7-9. They might get to 8-8. But, I'm putting this out there right now for all to witness. They will not win more than eight games this season. Yes, I'm a die hard Bears fan, but I'm not a naive homer. I desperately want Lovie and Angelo to be fired this off season. I'm tired of the Cover 2 defense, and I've quickly tired of a Dave Kingman-type offense (either home run or strikeout).

Did anyone notice that the Seahawks offensive coordinator was Jeremy Bates? He turned down the Bears offer to become their offensive coordinator during the off season. I'm guessing it was because he wanted to work for a coach who wasn't corpse-like during gameday. Pete Carroll's team looked enthused and energetic despite numerous roster moves during his short tenure. The Bears looked apathetic and bored, especially on defense. Maybe they missed Briggs, who is a tenacious playmaker. But, Peppers was completely outplayed by a rookie. A rookie! This is why he has a reputation for taking plays off because it looked to me like he took this entire game off.

I'm sickened by their performance, and I can't wait for the Chicago media to thrash them this week. This is an organization that needs to make drastic changes. Lovie looked like a great head coach when his team was simply more athletic than his opponents. But, after the 2006 season, his teams have played barely .500 football because teams have figured out how to beat the Cover 2. Their defense, like I said in the preview, has problems that have been overlooked during their 4-1 start. This is what I was talking about.

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but maybe the Jay Cutler trade was a mistake. I saw him make terrible decisions all game long. He was throwing into double and triple coverage when he had single coverage on the other side of the field. He refuses to check the ball down, even in the rare instances when there is a check down receiver. The Seahawks nearly picked off three passes, by my count, that were simply bad decisions or inaccurate throws. This is what we gave up multiple first round picks for? Yes, he has more "ability" than Kyle Orton. But, I'm not really sure this offense would be any worse under Kyle Orton and, God help me, Ron Turner. Truthfully, I didn't know much about Cutler before we traded for him. I knew his stats, and I saw highlights of his throws, but I never really watched him play much. Whatever opportunity he had to become a great quarterback is quickly diminishing behind an awful line, an insane coordinator, and his penchant for playing for highlights rather than playing it safe. The Bears have taken a quarterback with bad habits and, instead of correcting them, they are making them worse. Now that I've seen him play for about 21 games, I have my doubts about him leading us to the promised land. I decried all of the naysayers when they said he had never led a team to a winning record, and that he wasn't a great leader. Wow, was I wrong. I see the problems now.

I thought I could live with an all or nothing offense with an all or nothing quarterback, but I never thought they'd be this bad on 3rd down and in the red zone. It is infuriating, and I'll be fully prepared to lambaste this team every week, especially if they can't stop simple corner blitzes or if they can't convert a freaking 3rd down attempt.

The only good news is that the Packers lost, too. How sad is it that that is my only good news on Sunday?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seahawks vs. Bears Preview

The Bears received some good news yesterday when it was revealed that Jay Cutler has been cleared to start on Sunday against the Seahawks. I'm not sure the Bears could have beaten any other team besides the Panthers last week with the performance Todd Collins had, but hopefully that's something we won't have to worry about again. Lovie Smith has not officially demoted Collins to #3 on the depth chart, but I have a hard time believing he'll be backing up Cutler on Sunday. I understand why they have not simply released Collins, even though his performance does not warrant keeping him. They had a hard enough time finding a backup after Hanie got hurt in the preseason, and now that Collins knows the offense (which could be debatable, I guess), is guaranteed his full year salary, and has shown in the past that he can be a capable backup, maybe they should keep him as their emergency #3 signal caller. Truthfully, though, if Cutler and Hanie are out at the same time, the Bears should just run a wildcat on every play.

Seahawks vs. Bears Preview

The Seattle Seahawks are a team in transition. Pete Carroll has re-entered the NFL after a stellar run as the USC head coach, and he is determined to put his own mark on this team. He has jettisoned many players, and made some curious acquisitions (Mike Williams, for example). But, so far, this team is not anywhere near as bad as I thought they would be. Matt Hasselbeck is a wily veteran who has shown the ability to pick apart defenses when he gets time to throw the ball. I've never liked facing him, especially with the Cover 2 defense that the Bears run. Hasselbeck is adept at taking what the defense gives him, and he generally won't force the ball into tight spaces. The Bears defense has played really well this year, but I think the Seahawks could give them problems in the passing game. They are very good on 3rd down (44% conversion rate this year), and I still think that is an area where the Bears struggle, despite the current statistics which have been aided by a sloppy Packers team and a horrible Panthers team. If the front four of the Bears doesn't harass Hasselbeck, he could make it a close game (which I think it will be anyway).

The Seahawks haven't run the ball too well this year, but they have just added Marshawn Lynch to the mix. Lynch will be motivated to prove that he deserves to be a starting NFL running back, despite his lack of playing time in Buffalo the last few years. The Bears defense should be able to shut down this running attack. I'd be surprised if the Seahawks ran for more than 60 yards in the game.

On the flip side, the Seahawks run defense is pretty tough. They are only giving up about 2.7 yards per carry. The Bears proved last week that they can run the ball, if they commit to it. I know Martz won't run as much, especially now that he has his favorite toy back behind center. Seattle likes to blitz, especially with their DBs. If Cutler doesn't see them or the offensive line doesn't pick them up, it could be another long day for Jay. The Bears should try to establish the run early, and get Cutler into a rhythm with short passes and a few screens. Once that happens, then I'm sure they'll open it up down field. Can the line hold up? Chris Williams should be healthy, but the Bears won't move him back to left tackle. It sounds like they are going to play him at left guard. I hope Tice knows what he's doing because here is what the offensive line looked like at the beginning of the season:

LT - Chris Williams
LG - Roberto Garza
C - Olin Kreutz
RG - Lance Louis
RT - Frank Omiyale

Here is what it'll look like on Sunday:

LT - Frank Omiyale
LG - Chris Williams
C - Olin Kreutz
RG - Edwin Williams
RT - J'Marcus Webb

Most offensive lines obtain success through familiarity and consistency, knowing the players next to you and how they'll respond to certain situations. The Bears are completely throwing that notion out the window. It might be revolutionary. It might be a disaster. They are gambling the health of a franchise quarterback on this bet.

Seattle's special teams have been exceptional this year. Leon Washington and Golden Tate are both explosive returners. It should be fun to see the Bears special teams battle against another very good unit. I think there will be at least one return for a touchdown in this game. Let's hope it comes from a Manning, Hester, or Knox.

This is a game the Bears should win. They are pretty healthy, they've shown that they can win without playing at their best, and they are at home. Seattle has not been a good road team this year, having lost their two games away from Qwest Field by a combined score of 51-17. The Seahawks are scrappy, and Hasselbeck can still be an efficient passer, but the Bears should win a close one.


Bears 26, Seattle 23

Sunday, October 10, 2010


FINAL SCORE: Bears 23, Panthers 6

In NFL you have to take wins, especially wins on the road, however you can get them. Was this an ugly win? Sure it was. Their running game looked great in the first quarter, but after Collins threw a horrible interception at the goal line, their offense couldn't do much. Matt Forte had a big game, which the Bears desperately needed. He is an amazing open field runner. Once he gets past the first level, he is a threat to take it the distance every time. I wish he could make more people miss on the first level, though. I doubt Martz will call as many run plays once Cutler comes back, but I think the Bears demonstrated that they CAN be effective running the ball if they commit to it.

Todd Collins should be cut immediately. He simply cannot make the throws necessary to play quarterback in the NFL. He threw four awful interceptions. The protection wasn't great on one of them, but on the other three he simply overthrew, underthrew or didn't see big fat guys right in front of him. Martz ticked me off a few times with his play calling, but Collins simply showed that he can't get it done. I can't think of any other team in the NFL that the Bears would've beaten with that kind of play from their quarterback position. Caleb Hanie lacks experience, but he is mobile, has a stronger arm, and plays with confidence. I am more than comfortable with Hanie as the backup for the rest of the year than Collins. Even if Cutler can't make it back next week, I'd rather have Hanie start. In fact, I'm a little perplexed that Collins remained as the #2 quarterback once Hanie got healthy.

The Bears defense was crazy good. I knew they'd take advantage of Clausen's inexperience, but I thought they'd struggle stopping the run. Outside of the first drive when the Panthers drove down the field calling only run plays, the Bears run defense was stout. They stayed in their gaps and attacked the ball carriers. Very impressive. The five sacks were a welcome sight, too. Peppers interception was ridiculous. I also liked the blitzes that Marinelli was calling. He mixed it up a little bit. He must've felt comfortable going after a rookie. I doubt he'll blitz that much against Hasselbeck next week, but it might not be a bad idea.

Hester and Manning were fantastic returning kicks and punts. They gave the offense great field position all day, which really helped overcome their inept passing game. This unit looks like it's really coming together.

If Cutler comes back next week, the Bears should be able to win two out of the next three games (Seattle, Washington, Buffalo). They need their offensive line to figure out pass protection sooner rather than later, but, even more importantly, Martz needs to put much more emphasis on the run game. They showed that they could run the ball without ANY passing game. If they find some balance, it will definitely help the pass protection.

The Bears are 4-1. No, they are not the most talented or complete team in the league, and I'm still not 100% convinced this is a playoff team. The offensive line will need to show that they can protect Cutler, and Martz will need to demonstrate his willingness to run the ball consistently. But, they have won a few games no one thought they could, and they have beaten teams that they should beat. That can be a formula for success.

I'll be anxiously awaiting to hear who will start at quarterback for the Bears this week because I cannot take another game where the forward pass appears to be against the rules.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bears vs. Panthers Preview

It was announced earlier today that Todd Collins will start in place of Jay Cutler on Sunday in Carolina. I was afraid that I would have to write this sentence at some point this season. I put this squarely on the shoulders of Mike Martz. The offensive line was getting demolished on Sunday, and Martz was still calling for pass plays requiring seven-step drops. If he had gone to three and five-step drops after, oh, I don't know, the first five sacks, Jay would be starting this weekend and I wouldn't be scared to death about losing to the lowly Panthers.


This game will be a real test of the intenstinal fortitude of the 2010 Chicago Bears. In the last five days, Cutler has gotten hurt, the offensive line has become a national joke, Mark Anderson has been curiously released, and a 38-year old journeyman QB will be starting his first game since 2007. Their 3-1 record is not taken seriously by anyone in the national media and, with the Vikings adding the mercurial Randy Moss, everyone is expecting the Bears to fade away like they did last year after a 3-1 start. I want to be optimistic. I really do. But, I'm not sure the Bears are equipped to pull up from this sudden tailspin. They have a coach who is as lifeless on the sidelines as a Ken doll, and too many question marks at key areas such as the offensive line and secondary. That does not give me confidence moving forward.

The good news is that on Sunday the Bears are playing against a team that appears to have a lame-duck coach, a rookie QB, and no healthy receivers that can break open the game (assuming Steve Smith doesn't play due to an ankle injury). The Panthers will have to rely on their running game, which can be quite formidable, and a defense that showed a knack for getting turnovers last week against the defending World Champion New Orleans Saints. I watched most of that game, and a few things were obvious. Jimmy Clausen has the physical skills to be a good QB someday. He has a strong arm, and he acts like he belongs in the NFL. But, he lacks polish and experience, which the Bears defense should be able to take advantage of. Clausen will see lots of zone coverage, and I'm not sure he is patient enough or wise enough to check the ball down when needed. The Bears should be to get a few turnovers once he starts forcing the ball into tight windows.

The Panthers running game is something to be taken seriously. DeAngelo Williams is an explosive runner with good vision and excellent quickness. Jonathan Stewart is powerful workhorse who can wear down defenses. Their offensive line seems above average. The Bears struggled stopping the run against the Giants last week, and I think this Panthers team will give the Bears similar problems. Maybe the newly acquired Charles Grant can help shore up the run defense. The Bears were excellent against the run in the Lions, Cowboys, and Packers games, but those teams abandoned it so quickly, the Bears were never really tested. As the Giants game wore on, the smallish front seven of the Bears got tired and the Giants pushed them around fairly easy. The Panthers aren't likely to abandon their running game with a rookie QB behind center.

Can Todd Collins make the all throws in the Mike Martz offense? No, he can't. Whatever arm strength he had at one time has obviously diminshed. He can't throw the deep out or split the safety and corner down the sidelines. But, can he make enough throws to give the Bears a chance to win? Yes, I believe he can. Martz MUST tailor this week's game plan to include shorter throws, more screens, and much more running. Moving the ball efficiently is more important that gaudy stats or highlight plays. Winning is what matters. If Martz comes out and consistently calls deep routes out of seven-step drops with Todd Collins at quarterback then we'll know once and for all that his massive ego cannot be held in check, and it will eventually cost Lovie Smith his job. As I stated previously, I have mixed feelings about that. If the season goes down hill quickly, then I know at least Lovie and probably Jerry Angelo won't be back next year. But, that means I'll have to endure another season of crappy football and no playoffs. I'm on the fence.

Julius Peppers will be able to wreak havoc in his homecoming return against a rookie QB . The Bears should be able to get a few turnovers that'll put the offense in good position to score points. Even with Collins starting, the Bears are the better team. Can they win on the road against an inferior opponent after such a troubling week? I hope so. I fear what'll happen if they lose this game, even with Cutler sidelined.

Bears 16, Panthers 12

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Even if Bears Lose, You can Win!

Gift Card Giveaway!

In a very transparent ploy to beef up the number of followers to this blog, I am giving away a $50 gift card! All of the entry information is below. Basically, I am looking for people to publicly follow this blog and possibly link to it from their blog. Hopefully, I can tap into the very large pool of passionate Bears fans lurking out there. Good luck and Go Bears!

GIVEAWAY: ONE (1) winner will receive a $50 gift card.

Mandatory Entry:
Become a public follower of my blog (current followers will be automatically entered). If your blogger profile is not public, please make sure to leave your email address in your comment under this blog post so you can be notified!

Bonus Entry: Blog or Tweet about this giveaway with a link to my blog and come back and leave a comment with the link to your blog post or Tweet. (Mandatory Entry must be completed for this to count)

Giveaway ends Oct 31, 2010 @ midnight CST. Winner will be chosen at random, using and notified by e-mail. Alternate winner will be chosen if winner does not respond to notification email after 48 hours.

Bears Release Mark Anderson; Jerry Angelo Now Consulting Magic 8-Ball for Personnel Decisions

The Chicago Bears have released defensive end Mark Anderson. Wow. This is a stunning move that reeks of desperation. The Bears are taking this "accountability" pledge too far. This move, along with Tommie Harris being inactive against the Packers, demonstrates the chaos that is taking place at Halas Hall. There is no doubt that Mark Anderson has been a huge flop since his double-digit sack rookie season, but releasing him now after choosing not to resign Adewale Ogunleye and releasing Alex Brown in the offseason really speaks to the an organization that is in free fall. I can actually see Jerry Angelo sitting at his desk making a list of all the "moves" he has made since last January in a feeble attempt to show Ted Phillips and the McCaskey family how much he changed things after three playoff-less seasons. The sad truth, however, is that Jerry Angelo has failed in his attempt to build a team through the draft. And, Lovie Smith has failed to develop the talent he has been given, especially along the defensive line and secondary.

The Bears have also reportedly signed Charles Grant from a UFL team's roster to replace Anderson. Grant couldn't make an NFL team this year, but he's an upgrade over Mark Anderson? Alex Brown sure would look good in a Bears uniform right about now.

An organization that prides itself on stability is coming apart at the seams. I can only imagine the negative impact this move will have on the Bears locker room. If you couple this move with the constant changes along the offensive line and in the secondary, players are going to start pressing even more, which will inevitably lead to more mistakes. It is one thing to hold players accountable. It is another thing to panic and start running your team like a drunken fantasy football owner.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bears Lose...Badly

FINAL SCORE: Giants 17, Bears 3

It is one thing to lose a game. But, last night was a total debacle. Football is supposed to be a form of entertainment. I wasn't entertained. I was stunned by the total ineptitude I witnessed. Even though the score was only 3-0 at halftime, it never felt like the Bears deserved to be on the same field. They made the Giants defense look like the 1985 Bears, which is stupefying. There is ample blame to go around, and I will get to that shortly. But, the good news is that the Bears are capable of winning two or three of their next four games, which will put them in good position heading into the second half of the season. That is assuming, of course, that Cutler isn't dead.

Everyone knew the offensive line was going to be a problem this season. The Bears brought in Mike Tice and the hope was that he could take some raw talent, a few marginal players, and some crafty veterans and turn them into a legitimate group of blockers. After 10 sacks and two quarterbacks lost to injury last night, I'd say that Tice hasn't earned his money. But, I can't blame the offensive line problems all on Tice. If you give an Iron Chef meat from a carcass that's been rotting in the sun for six years, he's not going to be able to serve you Filet Mignon. That is exactly what Jerry Angelo has done, however. The Bears have drafted ONE offensive lineman in their last 23 picks that have taken place in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Angelo has almost criminally ignored these positions in his tenure. I was screaming for offensive lineman after the Super Bowl season knowing that Ruben Brown, Fred Miller, and John Tait didn't have many productive years ahead of them. Jerry Angelo, even me, an idiot fan living in the middle of Wisconsin, saw this problem coming years ago.

Mike Martz, mad-genius, had me feeling so hopeful after that Cowboys game. When the line was getting Cutler killed after the first few possessions, he made crucial in-game adjustments that allowed the ball to get out of Cutler's hand quicker. Last night, though, he stubbornly kept calling for seven-step drops and long developing pass plays. Cutler had taken eight sacks through most of the first half, but Martz was still dialing up bombs. Finally, the ninth sack of the half looked to be the one that took Cutler out and cost the Bears any chance of winning. Thanks Mike. I knew all along that this would be a high risk, high reward offense. But, if the offense can't handle the most basic blocking assignments against a largely four-man rush, then there is NO hope that this team can reach the playoffs this year. Martz will have to dial it back, run more, and call for fewer seven-step drops for the Bears to have any chance this year. In fact, Lovie should put some restrictions on Martz by only allowing for two pass plays per quarter that utilize seven-step drops. Does that sound ludicrous? Maybe. Is giving up 10 sacks in ONE GAME ludicrous? I think so. One other thought. Does it really make sense to keep rotating offensive lineman in and out of the game? I'd think continuity on the offensive line would be an important goal as the season goes on. Again, what do I know?

Cutler needs to take some of the blame for a few of the sacks. He held the ball too long, and didn't recognize hot reads on corner blitzes. This is basic football 101 stuff. I worry, though, that the punish he took not only last night but during the first four games of the season is starting to impact his decision making and ability to see the field.

These things will not be corrected quickly or easily. As teams start to see more and more game film of the Bears woefully inept offensive line, it will only cause more problems for Cutler and the passing game. It is up to Martz to devise a scheme that will protect Jay and give the Bears a chance to win the game. Let's see if Martz is finally able to learn from his mistakes of the past. If he doesn't, the Bears season will be lost, Lovie and Jerry will be fired, and a whole new regime will take over. Wait, maybe I DON'T want Martz to learn from his mistakes after all...

If Cutler can't play against the Panthers, I don't see them winning. In fact, I don't think the Bears can win against any team (except maybe the Bills) without Cutler. Let's hope his "concussion" is mild. I fear the worst.

So, as I said earlier, it's only one game. The Bears are still in a good position heading into these next four games. But, the cracks are starting to show big time, and there isn't any indication they'll be fixed soon. I'm not ready to write off the season, but if they don't start running the ball better and limiting opposing teams to about two sacks a game, this team will be at home during the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Here is what Lovie Smith had to say today. "The reality is we're 3-1," he said. "Last night we didn't get it done. No more than that."

Sure, it was only one loss, but don't tell me that types of losses don't matter. And last night was not the type of loss a team easily comes back from. Yes, they're 3-1. But, if you think that is all there is to know about this team, then please share with me whatever you and Lovie have been smoking.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bears vs. Giants Preview

The deactivation of Tommie Harris Monday night before the Packers game was stunning. Lovie Smith said that he wasn't trying to send a message and that Harris had done everything they asked out of him. It was simply a matter of performance. Lovie felt like other guys deserved a chance to see what they could do. That is baloney. No, Harris had not played that well in the first two games of this season, but he certainly wasn't bad. And, yes, his talent has diminished since 2006 due to leg and knee injuries. But, I can't see how they can justify deactivating him for a game and claim that it was because they wanted to see what other guys would do. Tommie Harris has been paid like a top-level defensive tackle for the past few seasons, even though he hasn't played like one since early 2006. There is not a doubt in my mind that Lovie was sending a message. I don't completely agree with it, though, because Harris is still capable of making impact plays. Plus, if Lovie thinks his defensive line has enough talent that they can actually deactivate a former Pro Bowl player, then why not simply rotate guys more often? That way, you can still give Harris the chance to make plays while giving younger guys a chance to prove themselves. If the Bears feel like Tommie Harris didn't give them a better chance to win than Matt Toeania on Monday Night Football against the Packers when first place was on the line, then why not simply part ways with the malcontent? I'm not sure Tommie Harris is the type of player who will respond positively to this type "non-message" from Lovie Smith.


Does the upcoming game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night qualify as a trap game for the Bears? The Giants are favored in Vegas by about three points, which basically means that they have homefield advantage. Most experts are split on this game according to, Yahoo, and CBS Sportsline. At first glance, the Bears look like they should win and win easy. The Giants have committed a ton of turnovers and penalties. They look like an undisciplined, ragged team led by a headcoach who doesn't tolerate those types of mistakes. There have been whispers around New York that Tom Coughlin is losing his players, that they are tuning him out. After last year's 5-0 start, they finished 3-8 down the stretch, and are off to a 1-2 start this year. As I said, the rejuvenated Bears should be able to defeat a team that is clearly reeling.

But, this Giants team is talented. Eli Manning played well on Sunday against Titans despite the one horrible interception in the red-zone when he tried to make a Brett Favre-type play by throwing the ball with his left hand while falling to the ground. His other interception early in the game bounced off his receiver and fell perfectly into the waiting arms of a Titan. That one wasn't his fault. Overall, the Giants offense moved up and down the field on the Titans. Manning was finding Manningham, Hicks, and Boss consistently open. When they were covered, he dumped off to Bradshaw, their dangerous, fleet-footed running back. Their offensive line generally protected Manning well, and Bradshaw also looked good running the ball. But, the offensive line had a bunch of penalties, and Bradshaw fumbled inside the Titans 10-yard line, negating yet another drive for the Giants into the red zone.

What worries me is that the Titans looked like they were running a lot of Cover 2 zone against Manning, which, of course, the Bears run about three quarters of the time. They had success getting to Manning when they blitzed, so maybe the Bears saw that, too, and will increase their pressure a little bit this week. Julius Peppers should be effective on the edge against an offensive that doesn't appear to be overly athletic. The Giants running game has been good this year, so the match up against the Bears number-one rated rushing defense will be important. If the Giants do get a little bit of a running game going, it will open up their play-action pass to tight end Kevin Boss down the middle of the field. Urlacher will have to get enough depth in his coverages to limit Boss in the passing game. Overall, the match-up does favor the Bears defense because they have shown the ability to prevent big plays while forcing the offense to play patient, mistake-free football. The Giants have not been able to play mistake-free football so far this season, which means the Bears should be able to get a few turnovers.

The Bears offense also appears to match up well against the Giants because they run a very similar scheme to the Bears--lots of Cover 2 and zone. Cutler and company saw this defense all through training camp, so they should be well-prepared. And, I'm sure the offensive line will be happy to play against a 4-3 defense after having to deal with 3-4 defenses the past two weeks. But, the Giants defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, was actually Lovie Smith's top choice to become the Bears coordinator this past offseason. Fewell chose the Giants over the Bears, I suspect, because he likes to mix up his coverages and blitzes a little more than Lovie prefers. That could give the Bears some headaches. In fact, I expect the Giants to be even more exotic this week on defense given how desperate they are to win. They will send cornerbacks and linebackers on blitzes frequently to try and rattle Cutler. Jay will have the opportunity to make some plays down the field, and Matt Forte should be able to get decent yards on the ground if Martz remembers that a running game starts with actually have a running back in the backfield!

The Bears are on a roll, and the Giants are struggling. After all of the excitement surrounding the Bears after their third straight win on Monday, especially against the hated Packers, the new Monsters of the Midway should stroll into the "swamps of Jersey" and dominate the Giants by at least a touchdown. But, this is the NFL. Every team has talent and immense pride. This will be a tough, physical game between two evenly matched teams on national television. I think the Bears will squeak by with a win due to their defensive line and running game.

Bears 24, Giants 23