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Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’

Chicago Bears Bring Out The Best And Worst In Opposing Coaches

Posted by sportsmaven on September 28, 2009

The similarities with the Chicago Bears two victories this season are eerily striking in its very nature.  The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks are two entirely different football teams, but the Bears approach to each game seemed to be virtually the same.  The Bears began each game very lethargically on both sides of the ball, stayed in the game while being steamrolled for most of the first half, picked up the intensity in the second half, scored on late drives engineered by Bears QB Jay Cutler and capitalized on two missed field goals by the opposing kicker to scratch out hard fought victories in each game.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Where the similarities end for the two victories are in the post-game press conferences from the opposing coaches.   Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is fresh off a Super Bowl winning season in 2008.  Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, Jr. was just anointed heir apparent to former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.  The common denominator: each coaches team lost to the Chicago Bears with their kickers missing 2 field goals that ultimately proved to be the margin of loss.  But this is where the similarities end for Tomlin and Mora.

In yesterday’s loss to the Bears, Mora was asked about his reaction to his kicker, Olindo Mare missing two field goals:

“No excuses for those,” Mora said. “If you’re a kicker in the National Football League, you should make those kicks, bottom line, end of story, period. No excuses, no wind, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to make those kicks, especially in a game like this where you’re kicking, scratching and fighting, playing your tail off and you miss those kicks, not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable.”

So, coach Mora, can you tell us how you really feel about the kicking situation? Mora was asked if the team will consider a change at that position.

“We’ll look at changes everywhere,” Mora said. “We’re not going to fight our [behind] and have a field-goal kicker miss two field goals. It’s not going to happen.”

In contrast, when Tomlin was asked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about K Jeff Reed’s two misses his response was more muted:

“I haven’t talked to Jeff yet about why he missed two kicks. Of course, this is uncharacteristic of him. He just kicked the game winner in overtime last week, and that’s what we’re used to. We aren’t used to what happened with him today.”

The comparison of reactions between Tomlin and Mora couldn’t be any more divergent in nature.  In addition to Tomlin, several Steeler teammates came to the defense of Reed, each stating their contribution to the loss.  The same for the Seahawk players, who each accepted their responsibility in yesterday’s loss.

Rarely is a loss attributed to one person, especially in the NFL.  Each player has a role in victory and defeat and virtually every coach worth his salt recognizes this and states so appropriately in his post-game press conferences.  Mike Tomlin displayed the class and professionalism of a true champion in his post-game press conference.  In contrast, Jim Mora, Jr’s lack of class and professionalism in his post-game press conference is highly symbolic of a coach who still doesn’t get it .

Attitude and tone are extremely important elements in the dynamics of successful teams.   Head coaches are directly responsible for setting the attitude and tone to foster a winning environment.  Tomlin’s approach has led his team to the pinnacle, a Super Bowl championship, in only two years.  As for Mora’s approach — he is most likely looking for his next fall guy on the waiver wire .

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Chicago Bears Beat Themselves, Green Bay Packers Are Beneficiaries

Posted by sportsmaven on September 14, 2009

Chicago Bears fans, welcome to the Jay Cutler era.  Don’t you wish you had QB Kyle Orton today?  It is incredibly easy to put all the blame on the horrific play of QB Jay Cutler, but he had plenty of help from his teammates and the coaching staff tonight in a 21-15 loss to the Green Bay Packers.  This truly was a total team effort.  The Bears made key mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams.  There was bad playcalling, missed blocking, tackling and coverage assignments, dropped balls, receivers quitting on routes.  The expectation is that no team in the NFL plays an entirely perfect game, but the totality, timing, and magnitude of the mistakes is startling and alarming.

(AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

(AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

The Bears dominated the Packers statistically tonight, but overcoming the many mistakes that were made tonight proved to be beyond the realm of the Bears performance tonight.  Glaring mistakes include:

  1. Cutler’s 4 interceptions — pick one, they were all devastating
  2. CB Nathan Vasher’s blown coverage on Packers WR Greg Jennings 50-yard touchdown, inexcusable
  3. Upsnap from long snapper Patrick Mannelly — the boneheaded play of the game, giving the Packers an easy FG with the Bears leading by 2 points
  4. WR Johnny Knox and TE Desmond Clark quitting on routes — dumbfounding
  5. Game management, especially in the 2nd half, burning timeouts including one on a ill-fated challenge on the failed upsnap play.
  6. TE Greg Olsen — where were you?

I don’t want to take anything away from the Packers, they had to capitalize on the errors the Bears were making.  They didn’t capitalize on every mistake, but the Bears kept them in the game, giving the Packers opportunities time and time again to convert, and I don’t think any Bears fan was comfortable when the Bears kicked the last field goal to take the lead 15-13 with 2:36 left in the game.

So what did the Bears do right?  I liked a number of things:

  1. Receivers played better than expected.  WR’s Devin Hester and Earl Bennett had nice games.  Knox had a good game minus the bailout on the slant pattern
  2. The Bears have a pass rush!  Defensive Line coach Rod Marinelli gets a game ball for getting this group of lineman to constantly pressure Packers QB Aaron Rodgers into an average night (until the last, late TD pass)
  3. Tackles Orlando Pace and Chris Williams were blowing people off the ball with their strong play
  4. SS Al Afalava had a strong game, with 4 tackles and a sack.  Afalava has a nose for the ball and plays big, something the Bears defense needs
  5. P Brad Maynard punted out of his mind tonight, pinning the Packers with bad field position, with 4 punts for 49.5 yard average with 2 punts inside the 20.  Maynard is definitely a weapon for the Bears.

So what do you think the Bears (we hope) learned tonight?  Hopefully plenty:

  1. Jay Cutler can’t win games all by himself.  He needs help and didn’t get much from his receivers (especially the TE’s), early play-calling, and early blocking from a OL that came out of the gate creaky.  Cutler’s bad decisions led to disaster tonight.
  2. Nathan Vasher is not nearly the same player that he was in his 2005 Pro Bowl season.  He is back-up material at best.  Get CB Zackary Bowman in there, early and often.  The Bears secondary leaves Green Bay with the same questions it had going in to Green Bay.
  3. Receivers can’t quit on routes and need to get on the same page with Cutler pronto.  There play wasn’t good enough tonight, especially Olson and Clark.  Clark quitting on that pass in the end zone in the first half was absolutely inexcusable.  He keeps running, easy TD.
  4. Even coaches need to work on fundamentals.  Bad offensive play calling through most of the first half, the ill-advised challenge in the second half on the upsnap play marked and the general look of unpreparedness that seemed to hover around the team, especially the offense.

The Bears play their home opener next Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and may have to play without the heart and soul of their defense, LB Brian Urlacher, strong side LB Pisa Tinoisamoa, and backup CB Trumaine McBride.  The offense needs to step it up three notches and the defense another notch to compete with the Steelers.  Only time will tell if that is realistic, or if the Bears move through the toughest part of their league’s easiest schedule with more blemishes.

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