Monday, December 14, 2009

Send 'em packing

Week 14: Packers 21, Bears 14

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In many respects, the Bears and Packers played very similarly on Sunday. Sixteen first downs for Green Bay, fourteen for the Bears. Third down conversions? Both teams were 5-for-13. The Packers ran just one more play than the Bears. They both had two turnovers. Etc.

But in the end, the Packers showed why they're a team that wins, and the Bears showed why they're a team that loses.

Ahead by a point in the final quarter, Jay Cutler busted out the cutlery we're all so familiar with, slicing and dicing the Bears' chances of winning by throwing a pick on the left sideline. The turnover shifted the momentum as well as the lead as it led to a Packers touchdown and two-point conversion.

But there were still over 12 minutes on the clock. Plenty of time. The Bears got a first down thanks to a Green Bay penalty, but could make nothing of it. And then a "hold," as Mason Crosby missed a makeable field goal. Bears got it back, but a 15-yard facemask penalty on offense stopped that drive almost before it started. Bears eventually got the ball back again. And then on 4th-and-4, a false start on Olin Kreutz. Kreutz was on the receiving end of some s**t-talking in the week leading up to the game, and his penalty was just the icing on the Bears' giant penalty cake, a dessert which they ate with great rapaciousness all game long.

In all, the Bears were flagged for 13 penalties totaling 109 yards. 109 yards! They ran for 59 yards and were penalized for 109. These guys are as disciplined as Tiger Woods in a champagne room.

What's frustrating is that the Bears actually had a chance to win this one. When's the last time they had momentum in the fourth quarter against a quality team? They had a golden opportunity to take down their rival and put a dent in their playoff hopes.

But the penalties just killed them. And they have all season. This is one reason the organization has to think seriously about going in a new direction with their head coach.

But here's the biggest reason: some coaches are under fire despite having had little time to implement their system (e.g. Eric Mangini and Raheem Morris). Other coaches are on the hot seat because of a quick and unexpected dropoff (e.g. John Fox and Jeff Fisher). But Lovie doesn't fit in either of these camps. Rather, Lovie has been around since 2004, has had time to implement his system, and has seen a carousel of coaches roam the sideline with him. And yet, the Bears are consistently getting worse. They've followed up their Super Bowl season with a 7-9 campaign, then a 9-7 one, and now they'll be 8-8 at best, but likely 6-10. This will be the third straight year the Bears have missed the playoffs. Lovie is fond of saying that the Bears "get off the bus running." Right now, the bus he's driving is going downhill fast, and the brakes are out.

Having said that, I also think Lovie is working with limited talent. GM Jerry Angelo's draft picks have been horrendous, and I believe he needs to go as well. There may not be a better example in the NFL of a team that needs to make wholesale changes. Some teams need a new guy in the front office, others need a new guy calling the shots, and still others are just a player or two away from a breakout season. The Bears, on the other hand, need to break out the vacuum and the Pledge and clean house. Their GM and coach have had years to make their mark, and the team seems to be floating out to sea ever since the Super Bowl season.

1 comment:

  1. I know there are an awful lot of Bowl games .. could they play in the Toilet Bowl?