The pressure is mounting on the Bears following their 36-10 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, and Lovie Smith knows the speculation that comes with the territory as his team sits at 4-7 and with little more than pride to play for the remainder of this season. I asked him during his press conference if he understands that scrutiny.
"I think I do. I realize that we haven't played as well,'' Smith said. "There were high hopes especially after the way we started and as far as why, there are a lot of reasons why, but we realize where we are and that's we are going to continue to look at what we're doing, which we do each week, we try to evaluate everything we're doing from scheme to calls we're making to you know just the players, we'll continue to do that and try to get a win. But yeah we realize exactly where we are."
It's going to be an interesting final five weeks to the season. The Bears have a game Sunday with St. Louis, one you would figure they would claim, but as poorly as the team has been playing of late, anything is possible. Surely, many factors are going to be weighed following the season, so I asked Smith if he believes what he did with the team from 2004 to 2006 still weighs significantly with management and ownership.
"Oh, I can talk a lot about this weekend," he said. "I am looking short term too. When you're in a situation like this, you don't look any further than that. All of your thoughts are occupied by trying to put a better product on the football field. That's about all I can talk about."
That's some dancing around the issue, but when a team has lost six of seven, the only thing the coach can do is look ahead at the next opponent and focus in. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher swerved out of that focus when he said some candid things about the team, pointing out that the Bears have completely changed their identity.
"I think right now at this stage, everyone is frustrated with where we are and everybody will speak their mind,'' Smith said. "Brian Urlacher is a team guy, like all of our players are, and they will voice their opinion. I would like all comments to be positive toward what we're doing but guys have a chance to voice their opinion. I can't do a whole lot about that, I just know that brian is a team player. He's behind everything that we're doing."
*** Smith said that Chris Williams is a possibility at left tackle if Orlando Pace is held out by a groin injury, but no determination has been made.
*** Smith said linebacker Lance Briggs' left knee is still being evaluated. Briggs was walking gingerly through Halas Hall. There is a chance he could play Sunday.