Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

Bringing Chicago sports to the world!

Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Lions’

The Chicago Bears Mistreat Nationally Televised Football Games

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chicago Bears 9-7 Season Clouds Failures In Judgement

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)

(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.

Extras:

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Chicago Bears Don’t Take Care Of Business Yet Again

Posted by sportsmaven on November 30, 2008

These are the games that kill the Chicago Bears….kill them in so many ways.  The Bears had a prime opportunity to take the drivers seat in the division, establish momentum going into a 3 game homestand, build on a win over the St. Louis Rams, and show a national television audience that your team is for real.  The only thing standing in the way was the Minnesota Vikings, or the Bears themselves.  The Bears played a fairly strong 25 minutes in the first half.  The rest of the game was a unmitigated nightmare.

Chicago Bears Lose to Minnesota Vikings 34-14

Chicago Bears Lose to Minnesota Vikings 34-14 (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The most upsetting aspect of tonight’s game is the Bears complete lack of fundamentals of the game of football.  Numerous missed tackles, dropped passes, lack of blocking, blown coverages, bad reads by the quarterback, bad playcalling, poor coaching decisions.  If it was bad, the Bears did it, and did it on national television.  These are the games that people remember when asked about their opinion of the Chicago Bears.

Tonight’s game was turned on two plays, the 4th down stop by the Vikings on the 1 yard line and on the ensuing play, the 99 yard touchdown pass from Vikings QB Gus Frerotte to WR Bernard Berrian.  Two plays, game over, on both sides of the ball.  From the Bears performance tonight, there are 5 key takeaways:

1.  If you can’t gain a yard on 4 plays for a touchdown, you don’t deserve to win any games, period.  Any play that takes away touches for Bears RB Matt Forte is a bad play, especially on the goal line.  Take that fullback handoff and put it in the shredder, right now.  Give your best players as many chances as possible to succeed.  So, the right call is Forte three times and if that doesn’t work, if you’re on the road, take the points, always.

2.  It doesn’t matter how fast your players are if they can’t catch the ball or make tackles.  The problem tonight wasn’t getting to Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.  The Bears actually did that very well.  It was getting him down that was the problem.  Peterson was throwing Bears off of him like little rag dolls.

3. Coaching out of fear leads to coaching not to lose games, leads to losing games.  Poor playcalling on the offensive side of the ball leads to pressing and non-confidence.

4.  Bears RB Matt Forte is the MVP of the Chicago Bears and is the only Chicago Bear player that consistently looks ready to play every single week.  For long stretches of the game, Forte was matching Adrian Peterson step for step, with the same toughness.  Forte had 96 yards rushing and another 29 yards receiving with a touchdown, against a Viking team that gives up 70 yards rushing per game.  Forte plays hard, looks prepared and ready to go and is the Bears most consistent and valuable player.  What would the Bears record be without Forte?

5.  The Bears appear to be undersized on both the offensive and defensive lines, not a successful formula for winning football.  Bears C Olin Kreutz is 290 lbs.  G Josh Beekman is listed at a generous 300 lbs. and G Roberto Garza is 300 lbs.  All are listed a 6’2″.  Vikings DT Pat Williams is 6’3″ 317 and DT Kevin Williams is 6’5″ 311.  Bears DT Tommie Harris is 6’2″ 290 up against Vikings DL that weigh more than 315-325 lbs.

Two extra nuggets — Bears QB Kyle Orton was making great progress in becoming more than a serviceable quarterback until his ankle injury against the Detroit Lions 4 weeks ago.  Since the injury, Orton has been shaky at best, missing a game, returning too early for the Green Bay loss, looking very average in the St. Louis game and having his worst game of the season in tonight’s game.  As of tonight, it appears that the injury has put Orton nearly back to square one in his development.  Secondly, another note on the Vikings 99 yard TD,  the Bears have given up the longest TD passes in both Monday Night Football (a 99 yard TD pass from Brett Favre to Robert Brooks of the Green Bay Packers in 1995) history and Sunday Night Football history, auspicious records for a team to hold.

So where do the Bears go from here?  First, the coaching staff needs to better prepare the players.  The one constant is that the Bears don’t seem to be a team that is consistently prepared week to week.  Part of the problem is that the Bears players may not be executing consistently week to week.  If that’s the case, the coaching staff needs to do a better job of identifying the players that make plays and get them more prominiently into the game plan, especially on the offense.  Do more with Matt Forte, WR Devin Hester, and TE Greg Olsen.

On defense, having a physical secondary is worthless when defensive backs never play press coverage.  This has been a glaring weakness that Bears opponents have taken advantage of in their game planning.  When the Bears use the WR screen offensively, its almost never effective because the opposing defensive backs are playing up on the Bears receivers, pressing them and forcing them downfield.  When the Bears play the WR screen defensively, it almost always works for the opposing team because the Bears don’t press opposing receivers, sometimes playing as much as 8 yards off the receiver before the snap.  This was witnessed firsthand tonight, when the Vikings converted two third downs via the WR screen and the 99 yard touchdown was thrown to a WR that was allowed to run free from the snap.

Ultimately, these are coaching decisions that contribute to what has been a very average season to date.  December is the time of the year to begin the work in developing sound game plans and executing them as flawlessy as possible.  December is the time where good teams become great teams and contenders become pretenders.  It’s a time to step up your play to another level and to a man, coaches included, with the exception of Matt Forte, nobody on the Bears has stepped up, and Matt Forte can’t do it all alone.

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chicago Bears Coaching Staff Puts Team In Position Not To Win

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: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Will The Chicago Bears Do In The 2008 NFL Draft?

Posted by sportsmaven on April 26, 2008

There have been countless mock drafts, endless expert analysis and general watercooler, beer garden, happy hour sports conversations on what exactly the Chicago Bears will do with their draft picks in today’s NFL Draft. The consensus? Nobody knows exactly what the Bears will do…..and that’s exactly the way that Bears GM Jerry Angelo likes it.

ESPN’s expert NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears will go with a offensive lineman, specifically Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams. Todd McShay from Scouts, Inc is going with Boise State OT Ryan Clady (personally, I think he’ll be long gone by pick 14). Fox Sports analyst Jay Glazer has the Bears picking Illinois standout RB Rashard Mendenhall. And finally, the guru of all mock draft analysts, the most accurate mock draft expert, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning Star has the Bears choosing Virginia OG/OT Branden Albert. Other late circulating rumors have the Bears entertaining trade offers and the possibility of moving down in the draft (which is real, since Jerry Angelo seems to prefer that strategy over all others.)

One thing is certain about this draft: This is a make or break draft for Jerry Angelo. He has to hit big in this draft and he has to hit big with picks on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears have many holes to fill: OT, OG, WR, RB, possibly QB. The Bears need at least 2 starter grade picks out of this draft and and probably 4-5 major contributors in order to compete in the NFC this coming season.

The NFC will be a vastly improved conference this coming season, and in particular, the NFC North Division. The Minnesota Vikings look drastically improved with the addition of WR Bernard Berrian to strengthen the offense and DE Jared Allen to a underrated defense, the Detroit Lions look to make a step up from last season if they play their draft cards correctly and the Green Bay Packers are the reigning division champions, who many feel will drop off after the retirement of QB Brett Farve. (I believe the Packers will be in contention for the division title all season long.) In addition, teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks are bulking up to compete for the NFC crown.

The Bears hold 11 draft picks and 4 of the first 100 picks. The Chicago Tribune ranked the top GM’s in the NFL in terms of draft picks that went on to become starters in the league. The top GM was, surprisingly Arizona Cardinals GM (and former Bears Director of Pro Personnel) Rod Graves. The Bears Jerry Angelo made it into the top 10 at #10, mostly on the strength of his defensive picks. Offense has not been good to Jerry Angelo draft picks, which puts even more pressure on hitting this draft big. The Bears need playmakers, explosive players, football players, not combine gym rat types. Jerry Angelo stated this week that this was a 10 man draft at the top, which is not good if you hold the 14th pick. While I don’t envision Angelo trading up, it wouldn’t surprise me if he traded down. The OL pick in the first round seems to be the majority opinion in mock drafts and analyst opinions. Which means that it’s most likely Chris Williams. 2nd round RB and third round WR/OL. After that, it’s more of a crapshoot, which makes predictions a waste of good time. Good luck, Jerry Angelo……you’re going to need a lot of it.

By the way, some of the players I like in this year’s draft that I would be thrilled to see the Bears pick:

RB – Rashard Mendenhall, James Stewart, Ray Rice, Matt Forte

WR – Mario Manningham, Malcolm Kelly, Eddie Royal, James Hardy, Jordy Nelson

OL – Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Chilo Rachal, Duane Brown, Anthony Collins, Chris Williams

QB – Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, Dennis Dixon

Safety – Tom Zbikowski

DT – Marcus Harrison, Pat Sims

LB – Jordon Dizon, Xavier Adibi

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »