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.