I just watched Lovie Smith’s press conference following the loss to Minnesota and one thing became very, very clear: Lovie Smith has no clue what the hell is going on with this team. He mentioned “hanging his hat on” what the team did successfully in their four wins – one against a decent team and reiterated the tired refrain, “we’re a good football team”.
I then read Brian Urlacher’s quote from Yahoo! Sports:
“Look, I love Jay, and I understand he’s a great player who can take us a long way, and I still have faith in him,” Urlacher said. “But I hate the way our identity has changed. We used to establish the run and wear teams down and try not to make mistakes, and we’d rely on our defense to keep us in the game and make big plays to put us in position to win. Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a winner, and that formula worked for us. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth.”
And now I understand it. The Bears – players and coaches and front office – don’t realize how successful they have not been as an organization. Be honest. What has this team accomplished this decade? Lovie Smith has made the playoffs twice as a head coach and was brutally outcoached in four of the five playoff games. Brian Urlacher is 2-3 in playoff games, including two defensive embarrassments during those years where we apparently wore teams down. These guys are clinging to a non-existent glory period that has given them a completely false sense of arrogance on the field.
Is Urlacher really blaming Cutler for a lack of running game? Not his buddy Olin Kreutz? Not the rest of the putrid offensive line or the coordinator? Of course he is because Jay’s an easy target. He’s turned the ball over way too much and looked lost at times. But the Bears have only abandoned the run in games for two reasons: (1) It hasn’t worked and (2) The defense is very fond of allowing thirty points a half these days.
The formula has not worked. Not the Lovie Smith formula. Not the Brian Urlacher formula. Not the Jerry Angelo formula. And the sooner the McCaskey family come to that understanding, the sooner the Bears can begin the process of bringing in a proven formula. A player selector with a track record of selecting good players. A coach with a track record of beating good ballclubs in January. A player who doesn’t wax poetic about the glory days of watching Steve Smith break records against his unit at Soldier Field.
6-10 is becoming the reality of 2009. The Bears will not beat hungry Baltimore, Green Bay or Minnesota teams down the stretch. (Although the only possible saving graces of this year would be keeping the Pack from the postseason with an inspired effort at home or keeping Minnesota from home field.) That will put the Bears at 22-26 since the Super Bowl. But don’t forget…they’re a good football team.