Chicago Sun-Times

Lovie keeping his focus on the task at hand as pressure mounts

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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.

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23 Comments

Well Lovie, trade some players to get draft picks. What am I saying, Fire all of them and start over. Please don't let a year that you have a chance to bring in a proving Coach and GM. Just think the last time we where looking for a new coach, we waited till the Rams and Patriots where out of the playoffs to pick Lovie over Romeo Carnell. We let all the other coach get hired before we came down to this two, and you know where Romeo is now after his Browns experiment. Lovie is on his whey there too.

Urlacher is correct when he says that the Bears have changed their identity. But that's not the problem. The league has turned into a passing league. You can't win without a marquee QB and passing game. That's not all you need, but you need that.

But it's like the Cover Two - it's a fine scheme if you have the three technique tackle and the safeties. If you don't, and the Bears don't, it breaks down. But the Bears continue to use it at critical times.

The fact is they don't have the players on O to change their identity. But then again, they don't have the players on either side to do much of anything. They really are stuck.

I know one thing: the way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. So the coaching staff cannot continue to do what they've been doing on either side of the ball. I can't tell them what to do, that's their job. And that's going to be interesting to watch.

IT IS VERY SIMPLE! LOUSY LOVIE, NO RUN TURNER, BOOZO BABICH, AND THE "BEST OFF SEASON ACQUISITION" MARRELLI (WHATEVER) MUST ALL GO. THE BEARS CANNOT RETURN THESE 4 STOOGES. POOR MARRELLI, HE HAS HIS SECOND POOR SHOWING IN A ROW. THIS TEAM IS IN UTTER SHAMBLES.

and while there at it get that C off the helmet which stands for cheap crap since the days of peyton and company.. slap a BEAR logo on their helmets fire the coaching staff and start playing like THE BEARS GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

I am in total disbelief that the headline in Monday's morning paper was not "Bears lose again, Angelo and Lovie fired"!! How can these clowns still be employed here?..... I would start right now checking out every team's practice squad for lineman on both sides of the ball. WRs too! It's also time to activate D.J. Moore, Jarron Gilbert, Lance Louis, Juaquin Iglesias, and Woodny Turenne. Give Olin Kruetz, Orlando Pace, Roberto Garza, Nathan Vasher, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Tommie Harris, Danieal Manning, Mark Anderson, and Adewale Ogunleye the rest of the year off! Put Devin Hester back on all return teams and off of the offense! Play the youngsters and get back to the aggressive style defense. Forget that Cover Two crap! Make these next five games audition time......Bears fans, we are about to find out how bad upper management really wants a winning team here! Will they eat the coaches' and GM's contracts and go after a real coach with experience (There's plenty out there now) or stick with these losers to save cash? I can't wait to find out. BEAR DOWN FOREVER! (as soon as these current clowns are gone!)

Pressure mounts? This Bears situation was recognized a long,long,long time ago. The "Lovie 2" defense is the worst ive ever seen. The Bears receivers are a group of really fast "guys", the run under it kind who appear to often run the wrong route. The O line is a train wreck. The O coordinator is so brutally predictable. Tommie Harris was really good 3 years ago. Can someone...anyone please tell me why all of my friends and myself seen this coming yet is was hidden from the Bears management??? Mr. Angelo..Shame on you! The pressure should have started building a long time ago!

Lovie and Angelo love what Urlacher said, it takes some heat off them. As for Brian being a team player this is the second time this season he has taken a shot at Cutler. This is a guy who forced a contract extension even though he had already been paid a ton of money. Team Player? Urlacher is showing he is as selfish as they get. Maybe Brian missed it but the Bears haven't been a run dominant team sense 2005. The Defense hasn't been good for 3 years and has had no pass rush for three years. But all of a sudden all the problem are Cutlers fault even though the problems where here and degenerating before he got here.

The Bears need to negotiate a series of contract buyouts with Smith, Angelo and their staff. It will cost them more money up front but less over the long run. If they need to save money sit Harris and make sure he doesn't get his bonus, in fact sit anyone who is underperforming their contract but will get a playing time bonus. Next let Pace and Kruetz know its time to retire, if they don't want to tell Pace he will spend all of next years training camp as the backup Center doing snapping drills with Hanie 24/7, see how his knees feel about that. You got to get as much fat off this team as possible if you want to rebuild. Trade Urlacher, he has a fat contract but the word is their are several teams that would like to have him next year and you get get a solid second round pick for him. Next try to move Harris to the Colts, they run a Tampa two and need help inside, his contract is performance based so them may take him, I don;t know if you will get much of a pick for him though. Next look to move Briggs, you can get a first for him, their are plenty of teams that will take him. But only do it if you are going to bring in someone to run a 3-4. If you are going to run a 3-4 most of the LB 's have to go.

Next try to find a good GM, a really good GM. See if you can drag Jimmy Johnson off that lousy Fox show, he has one of the best eyes for talent and he built that Dallas dynasty. I doubt they could get him but Johnson and Cowher would be a nice combo.

However Shanahan would be my first choice for head coach, he already knows how to use Cutler and could return him to a system he is comfortable in. He is a true offensive genius and a great head coach, but he is a horrible GM and should not be allowed to have that job.

Oh by the way Tom Brady has been pressured all night and has been playing from behind all night. He has 2 picks and 0 TD's. I guess when your under constant pressure and playing from behind even the best QB's throw picks. Funny how that happens, But some stinking Orton fan will find a way to blame Brady's picks on Jay. With all that talent talent too.

Even though the Bears have been all but eliminated from playoff contention, they don't plan on giving untested rookies such as defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert, wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias and cornerback D.J. Moore playing time at the expense of more seasoned pros.

“We will play the guys that we feel give us the best chance to win this week, period,” Smith said. “It’s short term. It’s no more than that. That’s what we’ve done every football game. We play the guys that give us the best chance to win that week. That’s what we’ll do this weekend.”

By Larry Mayer,

Hey, wow, thanks for the information Coach Obvious. feel free to continue to injur the important vets and not test out the newbees. Why would we ever want to see whether or not our young bloods are worth anything and only use them as a last resort. Sweet Jesus, these guys are pathetic! They constantly beat around the bush and dodge questions.

The Bears are well aware that if they are a legit contender they may have a high value. If however they become the Cleveland Browns (and they're headed in that direction) the value may only be arguably 700-800 million. Eating Lovies 11 million is peanuts when you're looking at those types of numbers. They are run by the ultimate bean counter in Ted Phillips who's well aware of the numbers.

Something for Bear fans to ponder

Jay Cutler for the first time in his career has thrown more Picks than TD's. Now if this had happened to him multiple times that might be a problem at this point in his career. But last year he through 25 td's and 18 picks plus 4500 yards. So you know he can can play pretty well.

But to put some minds at easy and spit in the face of Denver fans lets take a look at some great QB's and what they have done.

Troy Aikman HOF QB 6 time Pro Bowler.

1989 9TD's and 18 INT's
1990 11TD's and 18 INT's
1996 12 TD's and 13 INT's

John Elway (Denver fans are about to get so exposed)HOF

1983 7 TD's and 14 int's
1985 22td's and 23 INT's
1988 17 td's and 19 ints's
1989 18 TD's and 19 int's
1992 10 TD's and 17 int's
Wow 5 times in his career he threw more picks than TD's, Jay Cutler has only done this once.

Lets keep going
Brett Favre we all know where he is going to end up

1993 19 td's and 24 int's
1999 22 td's and 23 int's
2005 20 td's and 29 int's
2008 22 td's and 22 int's
he has thrown 17 or more picks 8 times in his career.

Peyton Manning

1998 26 TD's and 28 INT's
he has thrown 19 or more picks three times.

Fran Tarkenton HOF
1962 22 td's and 25 int's
1971 11 td's and 21 int's
1977 9 td's and 14 int's
1978 25 td's and 32 int's

Drew Bledsoe 4 time Pro Bowl selection
1994 25 and 27
1995 13 and 16
1999 19 and 21

Phil Simms 2 time pro bowler

1979 13 and 14
1986 21 and 22

Joe Namath HOF
1966 19 and 27
1967 26 and 28
1968 15 and 17
then 1970 through 77 he threw more Interceptions than TD's every year. Yet he is in the HOF.

Ken Stabler 4 time Pro Bowler

1975 16 and 24
1978 16 and 30
1980 13 and 28
1981 threw 84 he threw more picks than INT's

Terry Bradshaw HOF QB

1970 6 and 24
1971 13 and 22
1973 10 and 15
1974 7 and 8
1977 17 and 19

Other guys who have thrown more picks than TD's in a season multiple times include Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Joe Theisman.

Some guys who have done it at least once Joe Montana, Dan Marino Drew Brees, Mark Brunell.

Gosh I guess even the best QB's have done it, Cutler seems to be in some pretty good company. So just maybe his team is bad and he is paying for it like a buch of other QB's have paid for it.

Creighton, I agree with you 150% about the Bears bringing in Mike Shanahan, he'd be the best guy for the job IF the Bears want to win right now. Shanahan has been the guy I wanted since the pre-season. Lovie Smith was a good coach when his cover-two scheme worked, unfortunately, everyone has figured it out. Part of the downfall is due to the injury to key players like Brian Urlacher and Tommie Harris. But Smith simply can't come up with another scheme on defense to stop anyone, a scheme that fits the personnel he has. Thats what the great coaches do, Lovie seems to want to stick with this same scheme, and the Bears are getting slaughtered on defense everytime they face a decent offense. The lack of a running game and the overall defense is why Chicago is now one of the worst teams in the league, thats the ugly truth of it.

If Chicago were to bring in Mike Shanahan, Chicago could compete right off the bat. The Bears have the perfect personnel on offense to run Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. From the offensive linemen like Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale, Josh Beekman, to even rookie Lance Louis would fit perfectly in his scheme up front. Jay Cutler knows Shanahan's scheme probably better than any QB out there, and Matt Forte would be a great fit in this scheme also. Shanahan would be great for Jay Cutler, the franchise, and this is the main reason Chicago needs to bring in Shanahan, is it gonna happen, probably not, but it needs to.

As far as the remainder of the season, moving tackle Chris Williams to the left side is a great idea, Chicago has to see what this guy can do on the left side, a position I think he is better suited for. Chris Williams will be a much more effective tackle on the left side going against speed rushers who generally line up at right defensive end. Williams has pretty good athleticism, I think he's the best left tackle on the roster. I like the idea of playing Frank Omiyale also, the Bears gotta see if this guy is making any progress heading into the off-season. Heck, I'd even move tackle James Marten up from the practice squad to see what he can do. The sad fact of the matter is this, the season is over, its time to start evaluating some of the younger personnel to see what you need to fix during the upcoming off-season, oh well, GO BEARS!!

Creighton, Armstead:

AGREED.

I have been thinking about the zone blocking scheme with Shanny and how it would really benefit Beekman and Forte. Why is Shanny not here right now?

Lovie and his underachieving staff have missed the playoffs for 3-consecutive seasons after going to the Superbowl. It is clear that they cannot "coach-up" a QB - whether it be Kyle, Rex, or Jay. The O-line is atrocious (Jerry Angelo's fault) and the WR's are undisciplined. IMO the defense still has some talent but is underachieving and working in a scheme that is NOT WORKING for them and has led to countless injuries.

How can these guys possibly still be employed by the Bears?

3-straight years of missing playoffs
3-major blowout losses

What gives?

The McCaskey's need to relieve Lovie. It's over.

Kevin,
you raise an excellent point. The difference between good coaches and great coaches, or maybe between great college coaches and great pro coaches is the ability to adapt. A great coach can succeed in any system that maximizes his talent. Baltimore is a prime example. Early in his career, Ray Lewis had Goose in front of him in a 4-3 with space-eating defensive tackles, and they dominated the league. As the defensive personnel evolved, they changed systems tp a 3-4, and maintained their dominance. The Patriots were a ball control, short passing offense with Brady until they got Randy Moss, and all of a sudden, they make Air Coryell look like the wishbone...

Lovie has pulled a Rich Rodriguez in blindly believing that his system will still work, despite repeated failures and debacles like 500 plus yards to the Vikes on Sunday. 3 times this year his defense has given up six scoring drives. The offense is starting to change away from the run (they have no choice), but at the same time, they can't protect Cutler, so you would think they would go max-protect, and let Cutler have more than 2 seconds to throw.

We do not have the personnel to run the Tampa 2 effectively, and even if we did, the teams that run that defense are disappearing quickly, because every high school QB is learning where the holes are in that scheme. Lovie has failed in being a professional football coach by not adapting to the changes in the league, and more importantly, the changes in his personnel. Hillenmeyer is not fast enough to cover the deep middle, so we should either play man-to-man, or a Cover 3 or 4 zone, where he can stay underneath, and use his short area quickness to cover. We play 8-10 yards off the receivers, and then put the LBs in the A gaps, so the slant is not only wide open, but leaves a huge hole in pursuit that could make it a long gain instead of a 5-7 yard play.

What scheme should we be running? How about a straight 4-3 like Blache used to run, where the DL engages, reads the play, and then flows to the ball. We still fly upfield in a single gap, leaving huge cutback lanes, and are vulnerable to zone blocking teams that just ride us out of the play. Tommie gets no penetration, so the QB can step up all day long and make throws down the field.

And how about instead of press coverage where we just let the WR off the line of scrimmage, we try knocking the crap out of him for the 5 yards we get, and disrupt the timing a little bit? We are seeing our opponents do this to Hester, Knox, and Bennett, so why are we not learning something from this?

The most significant failure of this coaching staff, aside from negligible player development, is the complete lack of ability or desire to change things up to give this team a better chance to win. They keep talking about putting the guys on the field that give them the best chance to win. Why does this not apply to the a@@-clowns calling the game? Turner still isn't moving the pocket enough (2 or 3 called sprint-outs was all I saw Sunday), and the protection is being set up to fail. Lovie is still leaving half of the field wide open with his ridiculous mug-up front, and we haven't sacked a QB with a defensive lineman in forever....

Things need to change, and change starts at the top. We won't get a big name coach if we do fire Lovie, because of the $5M albatross for the next 2 years (McCaskey's won't pay in excess of $10M per year for 2 years of a head coach), but we could get a guy like Jagodzinski for $1-2M per year as head coach, or even less as offensive coordinator. We could find a hungry defensive coach that deserves a shot as coordinator. Heck, we could hire Toub as Head coach, and get Jags as OC, and bring in anybody as DC (that doesn't run a Tampa 2, that is) and be vastly improved in all phases of the coaching staff.

Our play the last 5 weeks has been nothing short of atrocious. If we lay an egg against the sorry Rams, then there is no doubt that this team has stopped playing for Lovie. If we win ugly, like we did against Cleveland, it is still an indictment of how poorly this team is prepared to play professional football.

We will be lucky to beat St. Louis or Detroit, and the other three games are almost certain losses if we play like we are playing. Is 6-10, or 5-11 enough to force the change? I certainly hope so, because this team will be worse next year if he stays.

Angelo gambled on Cutler, thinking that was the missing ingredient, and he is looking like he lost. He still got a franchise QB, but the rest of the team didn't hold up for the one more year he needed to make a run at the Super Bowl. I think he sees the writing on the wall, and knows he will need to start rebuilding. So why the blind devotion to "win now"? Angelo will stick around for a while, and get a chance to start over with Cutler as the cornerstone, but he will need to focus on an offensive-minded philosophy, which means offensive line rebuilding for Jerry in every way possible. Expect trades and cuts of the defensive big money guys in the offseason, and free agency pushes for offensive linemen.

But he will need to sacrifice some people. Turner for sure is gone, and Lovie will be lucky to keep his job. Marinelli is going to be gone too, and Lovie will have to bring in a legit defensive coordinator, that runs a different system than the Tampa 2. Jerry will be teflon in this one, as he gave the coaching staff the tools they said they needed to succeed, and they still failed miserably.

Creighton nice job on the QB list. I totally agree. People need to lay off of Cutler and just remember the pile of S##T we had at QB before he got here. He can't do it all on his own. It all starts at the top with coaching. They all SUCK, except Toub he can stay. They need a FULL house cleaning to cleanse this once great franchise and bring it back up to the top again. Please fire all coaches except Toub. O Line coach is just plain pathetic like his bff Turner and the list goes on.

It hurts to watch each week and see the lifeless sack of S##T they call a head coach out there looking like his skeletor alien buddy Dungy. Please make it stop and clean house. That is all we ask.

Also, on my Christmas list is a new O line, a WR and anyone who can play Defense.

I guess.....GO BEARS!

Dear Santa,

I've been very good as you know. All I want for Christmas is a new head coach for the Bears.

Thank You!

If knowing how to best use one's players is the criteria of a good coach (and it is) then that would argue against Shanahan. McDaniels has taken Shanahan's players, with a downgrade at quarterback, and turned them into a better team with a new offensive and defensive philosophy. Shanahan's record without John Elway is only slightly better than .500, and his teams were notoriously dirty. Shanahan as offensive coordinator, abolsutley yes, but Shanahan as head coach, there's better out there. Most noteably Cowher. He fits the mold of what the Bears want to be, a run first defense oriented team, just like Ditka did 25 years ago. That being said, if it's a choice between Lovie and Shanahan, then it's Shanahan in a landslide.

Creighton, please don't bring up Jimmy Johnson as GM. He is the man who passed on giving Dan Marino Randy Moss so he could draft a scatback named John Avery. He also drafted Steve Walsh when he already had Troy Aikman because he thought Walsh was the better quarterback. Johnson gets credit for fleecing the Vikings in the Herschel Walker trade, but that kind of trade will never happen again. After that, he was mediocre at best in terms of being a GM. Oh, and I almost forgot, he left the Dolphins with Wannstedt as head coach. What a genius.

Creighton

Nice bro-mance you got going with Jay there, big guy.

You forgot to mention Jeff George in your QB comparisons. He only had one season in which he threw 18 or more INTs. Of course, he had a career record of 46-78 as a starter. On the positive side, he did take two teams to the playoffs during his 12-year career.

If you only read one response on this blog, READ THIS ONE!

Lovie Smith should NOT be fired!

He should be put in Cook County Jail for what he's done to this team. It's criminal! And Ron Turner should be his bunk mate!

Thank you for listening.

Depression close to despair seems the motto of the day. I'm almost there myself and am usually the soul of optimism.Where does the blame lie? Almost everywhere. Offensive linemen cannot block, defensive linemen cannot get pressure on the quarterback, pass defenders look slow and confused, receivers screw up their routes and seem to run at half speed, running backs cannot see open holes, and the quarterback makes bad decisions, especially in the red zone.Other than those minor problems, the Bears are a great team. Maybe they can still salvage a degree of pride if they manage to beat Minnesota and Green Bay in rematches.

Creighton, the list of great QBs is impressive. Nice work. And don't forget Cutler is tough as nails. Aikman said he never sees any completions because he is always on his back. Grossman and Orton would have been on IR with ouchies a few games ago.

But I have to disagree with you on Urlacher and Briggs. Sure, Urlacher is a me-first pud. And if I remember correctly, he couldn't stand the Tampa Two when it was installed. But he and Briggs would make excellent OLBs, real QB terrorizers, in a 3-4. If he gets traded, I guarantee you his next team will put him on the outside and let him blitz. Might as well be for us.

zkkq4j

Did anyone else notice how Mike McKenzie and Darren Sharper played last night? Think a hard hitting safety (remember Mike Brown?) and a good cover CB would make the D a little better? Well, I do but the main Stooge of Jerry, Lovie and Teddie didn't. That would be the architect of this shipwreck of a team, JA. He rolled the dice on a hasbeen OT but thought these guys were worthless.

And that's why N.O. is where it is and the Bears are where we are.

BTW, if Mike Brown thought that defense a few years back sucked I can only imagine what he'd say about this one with a mic in front of him.

Why don't we wait to crown Cutler until when he achieves and deserves the crown. So far he has not been to the playoffs, not won a division and his overall won/loss is not on the winning side of the ledger.

Cutler has the physical tools but he still has not gotten it done on either the Bears or the Broncos. Lets build a team around him during the next few years and lets hope that Cutler will also grow as a leader and be as mentally prepared as Manning, Brady, Elway and Montana. It seems 80% of the board is comparing him to these type of QB's, so far I don't think he is qualified to carry any of these hall of famers jock strap. But I am not saying he is not going to be capable of being as good as any of this elite group, but lets wait to crown him, until he deserves the crown.

He has the physical talent no question but he is not the leader of the team yet, that happens when you win games coming from behind, you are always in control mentally and don't make stupid mistakes like getting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Hey Creighton, good one on Johnson/Cowher, man I'd love that one. Shanahan not so much, don't like his style of football. Not only do the Bears need to get back to winning, they need to get back to playing Bear football, and Shanahan's not the one to get them there. That said, he'd be a huge improvement over Lovie and would produce a winner if the Bears gave him some talent to work with.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on November 30, 2009 5:05 PM.

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