I have to admit it. I’m fascinated by Thursday night’s game in San Francisco. The Chicago Bears are only a few inches from plummeting off the cliff of the 2009 season and now, on only a three-day turnaround, must ignore the media’s call for accountability and fans’ call for pink slips to provide a major effort in front of a national audience. The much-hyped Chicago Bears are underdogs against a team that just lost to Vince Young.
What can we expect from the coaching staff, specifically on defense? Without a full (or even half) week of practice, Lovie & Co. will have very little time to address the issues that plagued the pass rush and secondary against the Bengals and Cardinals. (And by “address issues” I mean stubbornly refuse to deviate from a pre-determined plan even after steady and consistent in-game failures.)
What can we expect from the players, often the chattiest bunch of underachievers around? Will Adewale Ogunleye show up? Will anybody show up in the middle? Will the young linebackers stay in the right gap? Will any defensive player do anything mildly productive?
The truth is that the Chicago Bears need to begin operating with the knowledge that they can’t stop anybody and that places the pressure squarely on Jay Cutler and the offense. Starting Thursday night, the game plan must shift to “outscore everybody”. That means the old-timey, antiquated ideology of running the ball and controlling the clock needs to be thrown into the trash along with the fade route in the corner of the end zone, the end around, the wildcat formation and the bubble screen to anybody not named Devin Hester. Shotgun formation. Toss it around. Endlessly. Because unless the Bears have a two-score lead with under five minutes remaining, they are not safe.
It is Jay Cutler’s job to save the Chicago Bears season from Lovie Smith. Simple as that. And if that means casually mis-hearing the play calls, I’m all for it.