Chicago Sun-Times

What do you fix first?

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On Friday, I asked what the Bears needed to do against the Cardinals to make you feel better about this team.

I'm guessing that nobody besides Packers', Vikings' and Lions' fans are feeling better after Saturday night's 14-9 loss to the Cardinals.

If this was the dress rehearsal we may want to skip the actual performance.

Good grief.

The offense was a mess from the first play of the game, when Frank Omiyale got beat and receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Hester ran patterns to the same spot on the field.

Jay Cutler was tripping all over himself as the offense continued to be completely out of sync. Both interceptions were inexcusable.

He was sacked four more times.

Defensively, the Bears still can't get off the field on third-and-long. The Cardinals covered 53 percent of their third downs, including two third-and-eights and a third-and-seven on one scoring drive.

Safety Chris Harris is supposed to be the savior of the secondary. Instead, he missed critical tackles, took bad angles and was more of a problem than the solution.

Derek Anderson and rookie free-agent receiver Stephen Anderson were better than the first-string defense in the first half. Struggling Matt Leinart completed nine of 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown when it was his turn.

The still shaky special teams had one field goal blocked and missed another.

So, here's the new question. So much went wrong that Bears coaches should make a list. But how would you prioritize that list? What should be the first order of business when Lovie meets the team on Monday?

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22 Comments

As far as the interceptions go, I am not surprised that Jay tossed a couple versus the Cardinals. Arizona's defense was pretty geared up for this game and have lived off of big plays for the last 2-3 years.

I do believe that Lovie is playing very vanilla schemes and coverages on both sides, hoping that the Bears can steal a couple of early games. I guess we'll see.

As for fixing, it's been said by many on this blog already:

The offensive line is atrocious. It is personnel. Jerry Angelo is to blame for the poor blocking. Sacks, missed and blocked field goals, poor synchronization of an offense that relies on timing ... it all points back to the line. They are not capable. I hope they prove me wrong in the regular season.

The defense has continued it's ineptitude since the departure of Ron Rivera. I believe that Jerry and Lovie have done a good job with the personnel on defense, with the exception of the Safety position. HOWEVER, Lovie is to blame for the poor effort on defense, which I believe involves schematic (Cover 2) and playcalling deficiency.

So, that said, I think the defense is still talented and can be fixed ... but it won't be because Lovie is too stubborn and incapable. Rod Marinelli is a line coach, not a playcaller. And the linebackers can't stay healthy.

The offensive line cannot be fixed without new personnel. As a fan, I can only hope that Martz, Cutler, Knox, Taylor, and Forte can steal some touchdowns and win some games.

I am currently living on the west coast. I have been holding off on buying NFL Sunday Ticket for the first time in 5-years. I am not sure I want to invest in the Bears product this go round.

Later.

1. Stop playing the Cover-2.

2. Tailor your offensive and defensive schemes to your players' strengths. The Bears look semi-competent at run-blocking, terrible at pass-blocking. So we become a passing team?

3. See if you can call "do-over" on the Julius Peppers and Tommie Harris contracts.

4. Say goodbye to Devin Hester. Why is he still starting?

Since I can't get rid of the owners, I would start by firing Ted Phillips, for his inability to recognize that he has the worst GM in professional sports. Next , I fire Jerry Angelo, 1 first round pick in 8 years is inexcusable. Tommie Harris is all the Bears have to show for Angelo's tenure here. Haynes, Grossman, Colombo, Benson, OH, and lets not forget we actually traded OUT of the first round as well. OOPS, forgot about Greg Olsen. Did he play last night ? I sure didn't see him. Are we ready to call Jay Cutler a BUST yet ? 2 first rounders and a second rounder for a turnover machine. I admit, I liked the trade to begin with, but every day he looks more like the rest of Angelo's first rounders, BUSTS !!!!

The first thing that should be done is Jerry Angelo should be fired immediately. His talent evaluation is pathetic, he is soley responsible for trading away two years of high draft picks for a franchise quarterback but then failing miserably at protecting that quarterback by placing an offensive line in front of him which I believe some top ranked college lines would outperfrom! I won't talk about a wide reciever corp that is long on potential but poor between the ears, how many broken or wrong routes must we see before Jerry gets it.

Fire him now and bring in Bill Cowher as president of football operations, if you have to give him a small percentage of the team do it. Give him a year to get to know players, administrative staff, and scounting personnel. At the end of the year send Lovie and his cover 2 packing and let Cowher select his head coach or better still let him come back down to the sidelines. I only hope that this "vaunted staff" is working with 1 year deals.

I'd also see if Cutler couldn't get injured soon as he'll get killed if we keep him behind this offensive line and we may need him the next few years if we don't kill him before hand!

2010 is going to be a very long year.

Don't know why everyone thought Cutler was the answer. He was not the answer for Vanderbilt. He was not the answer for the Broncos. He's not the solution for the Bears. His glory days were with Heritage Hills High School, the last time he led a winning team.

one word COACHING!! this team does not look ready to play.. marinelli tice and martz are all has been dinosaurs.. they need fresh new faces and innovative minds..
what they also need is fire from a coach every now and then.. once again lovie looks lost!! hoping for the best but wih the schedule they have it may be a long season!!

Thanks Chicago!!!

Mr Mick,

The whole "first round bust" thing is so stupid. The combine is cannot measure EVERYTHING. There is tremendous media bias and exposure to BCS teams and that also taints the scouting process and exposure to great players.

Benson and Colombo are both starting and playing for playoff teams. Harris has been to the pro bowl. Grossman is capable of playing in the league. And Olsen? He's a quality reciever.

Cutler a turnover machine? Bust? The guy started one season for the Bears. He threw a bunch of picks. Yep. But how many of those were caused by broken routes? More than the average I'd say.

He out-deulled Farve at the end of the season - then sliced up Detroit in the finale.

No way Cutler is a bust. He has the 2nd or 3rd most 4th quarter comebacks than any other quarterback in the league. When he was with Denver, their defense was ranked 29th and 30th in the league. Creighton, look that up will you?

Cutler needs coaching and support.

Thank you Broncos for Cutler and Knox. While Cutler had a poor game yesterday, comparing what the Bears got with what the Broncos got, the Bears right now appear to be ahead. Of course, a large part of that is because the Broncos ended up making very strange draft day decisions with the picks the Bears gave them...

For a team that said they were going to take this game seriously, I sure didn't see it. I watched a team that seemed to be sleep walking. The most disturbing thing is that we are seeing the same problems that we saw last year - Cutler's interceptions, Williams getting beat, can't stop anyone on third down, and poor tackling. Frustrating.

I cannot believe I have seen a couple of posts complaining about Peppers. Peppers is one of the few (very few) bright spots.

The heart and soul of any team right now should be from the 2005-2008 drafts - players from these drafts should be in their prime. The Bears have hardly anything from those drafts. That is why this could be a very long season.

This is a tough one because there are alot of issues, but you must start with the offensive line. That should be the first pick. They must work smarter at later draft picks because that's where they can pick up defensive players. As I stated before, you can't get the best coaches until you clean house. I was completely against Martz getting this job because the league doesn't play like that anymore. This regime had no intentions on getting any better, they just bought time.

Get rid of Lovie and hire a real coach and you'll see a drastic improvement. The players are there but they're not listening to Lovie. The head football coach is the most important member of any football organization

The first thing to fix is third and long. The Bears forced the plays they want (checkdowns, throws behind the lines), yet they don't make the plays.

Offensively, they need to get in sync. The talent is there.

Sell the team to Mark Cuban. He can be a bit obnoxious at times, but he would make the changes needed at all levels to make the Bears competitive again. The current ownership/management/coaching combo has displayed its ineptitude and hopelessness. Key players are getting too old and injury prone, the drafts in the Angelo era have been a disaster, and the belief that retread coaches can turn inept offensive and defensive lines into something special seems to guarantee another long, miserable season for the fans.

I've been telling the few bear fans around here for awhile Lovie is part of the problems. How many guys have you seen Lovie favor while he has someone better on the bench.

Both Orton and Greise weren't good enough for Lovie. I mean, Grossman was better than either one? I think not. I bet they weren't on his good side, and he mostly gave Orton a chance finally. Don't get me wrong, neither one was a Breese, Manning, Brady, or Warner, but they were far from bottom of the pack. Getting Cutler wasn't too bad, it was his choice of having Turner coach him last year that drove me nuts. When they work Devin with a trick play, somehow the timing feels better, like they caught the D off guard, instead of pulling something out to get things going. It'll come, but because of Martz, I'm driving up to Cleveland mainly because of how excited him being signed got me.

And Babich, another Lovie favorite who's still "coaching" the line backers. I don't know if it's the scheme, but I know the execution is not there.
Oh yeah, that Rivera guy who had the best defense in the NFL for a year and hovering around there for a few, he wasn't good enough for Lovie either. I keep watching San Diego's D, it's not stellar but I bet it'll be better than Chicago as long as Lovie thinks he's got the magic. And I have total faith Lovie will screw it up if they do find someone to run and get the Defense working.

For safety, Major may end up being good, but Steltz should be out there, I see other guys screw up much more than him, and notice him making plays when he's out there.

The only good thing I've seen the Angelo / Lovie duo do is get Martz and Tice in. I really wonder if Tice told them they needed better players on the line to get the job done and he was laughed at or what. I just hope they fix the three ding-a-lings at the top (Phillips, Angelo and Lovie), that Martz and Tice are kept. I think between the backs, receivers, and Cutler they'll have something. I really don't think Cutler is dumb enough to give Martz lip, or that Martz will take it, the guy did have one of the most explosive offensives in League history, even if he does have some pass happy flaws.

A true number one receiver wouldn't hurt, but it's not a must with the other 7 guys they have around them. So they need someone who can get 3 of what they need instead of spending the farm on another magic bean seed toy guy who fails to be the next Fitzgerald. D.A., Knox, and Hester can make catches when they need to. The ball that was 2 inches to far from Hester will come, and was a lot better than the dying quails in between 3 safeties they let Grossman toss out there. The blown routes and such will smooth out towards the end of the season, which I hope won't be too late to catch the playoffs. And a few of the passes just needed some better timing, like the ball low and behind that Knox missed, they'll come, and again I have faith Martz will bust them to be in the right spot, and Cutler for where he throws the ball more than anything.

First of all NEIL, I expect timing to be off, players running to the wrong spots and assignments getting missed. That's what happens to all of the teams in the preseason. This is why the coaches want all four preseason games and are going to hate losing two of them next year (or when ever they play again). So I'm never too hard on the team during this time while they are trying to get up to GAME speed, something almost all of you here never will understand. AND before the rest of you jump all over me for saying that, you need to ask yourself if you have ever played in the NFL first. All teams struggle in the preseason, especially bad ones like the Bears.

This is a very weak team. They have many problems that cannot be solved this year and many will lose their positions in early January. I will tell everyone right now who will be the Chicago Bears Head Coach next year, Bill Cowher. So welcome Coach Cowher to Chicago, I would like you to hire Mike Brown as your DB coach. Coach Brown will be a head coach one day and win the Super Bowl.

I still like Coach Smith and wish him all the luck where ever he ends up. However, I'm already looking to the draft. I guess I'm a bad Bears fan, but I like to think of myself as realistic.

First, you need a head coach who can orchestrate an NFL team into a cohesive unit. The team looks unprepared. For the past several years the opponents appeared to make better adjustments at half-time than did the Bears.

I feel the team has talent and speed. Picking up a solid O-lineman who is not over the hill might just do the trick.

Looking at Grossman having a good pre-season with a real coach and I'm thinking the Bears could ruin Cutler, too.

First, you need a head coach who can orchestrate an NFL team into a cohesive unit. The team looks unprepared. For the past several years the opponents appeared to make better adjustments at half-time than did the Bears.

I feel the team has talent and speed. Picking up a solid O-lineman who is not over the hill might just do the trick.

Looking at Grossman having a good pre-season with a real coach and I'm thinking the Bears could ruin Cutler, too.

First, you need a head coach who can orchestrate an NFL team into a cohesive unit. The team looks unprepared. For the past several years the opponents appeared to make better adjustments at half-time than did the Bears.

I feel the team has talent and speed. Picking up a solid O-lineman who is not over the hill might just do the trick.

Looking at Grossman having a good pre-season with a real coach and I'm thinking the Bears could ruin Cutler, too.

Forfeit the 16 games on the schedule right now so Cutler doesn't get killed. This will speed up the process and save a lot of time. Based on Lovie's lack of coaching ability and his extremely low IQ they were probably going to go 0-16 anyway. He's so stupid he can't even see that Chris Harris is a strong safety not a Free and Devin Hester is not a receiver but a Return man when everyone else can see it.
Forfeiting the games will allow Urlacher and everyone else the rest of 2010 to get healthy so that they can be ready to play for a real coach with a real Defensive Scheme in 2011. Martz will have a whole year to fine tune the offense and play the receivers he wants. And the new GM will actually pick an Offensive Lineman who can play in the draft and sign a couple of good ones in Free Agency.

Bill Cowher is the clear choice to coach the team.

That will fix everything. Any other changes are meaningless at this point.

Great question Hayes and I like what you are doing to try to be proactive with this Blog. That your idea of asking people to be objective didn't work is not your fault. As a Bears fan of 50+ years I've resigned myself to the fact that it's just a symptom of the times. All these oozing negative bloggers will only disappear when the Bears win, and maybe not then. Had Da wiped up Soldier Field with Arizona the blogs would have been still negative with comments about "it's only pre-season" and "Arizona has issues and is not a real test."

OK, I've vented. To answer your question, the first thing the Bears need to fix is also the easiest. They need to clean up their special teams. No brainer. No NFL team can win by missing field goals, giving up returns, botching snaps, and getting punts blocked. There is reason for optimism on this issue. Toub is a very good ST coach and the Bears have a good core of experienced specialists in Gould, Maynard, and Mannelly. You have to believe that this area will improve when they set the roster and find out who will be doing what.

A close second is that they have to fix the third down defense. No doubt about it, that has to be fixed. Call me crazy, but I think that it's do-able. A lot of their problems against Arizona were not a case of players losing one-on-one battles. It was a case of players committing mental errors. Many were at safety where they are banged up. I don't know how he going to work out at D-coord, but have to believe Mr. Details, Rod Marinelli is not going to put up with mental mistakes. I'm starting to wonder about Chris Harris. Did he just have a bad game, or has he lost a step? The good news about that issue is that the Bears have other options this year. For example, it looked like Manning may actually be an answer at strong instead of a question at free. Wright was winning a starting job before he busted a finger. He will be back soon. I think Steltz could be a decent strong if he was playing with a FS that had some range and smarts. These guys are all probably going to be available for Detroit. None of their injuries are serious.

Everybody keeps worrying about the offense. Talk about the instant gratification age! Did you expect Martz to trot out the Greatest Show on Painted Dirt in time for the preseason? Dude this is the NFL! A new O-coord, a new system, and the O-line has exactly one player who has started an entire year at his position. If this offense starts to gel within the first 3 or 4 regular season games it will be a testament to both the players and coaching. That is why the defense and special teams are so important out of the gate.

I realize the early games do count, but as long as they don't dig too big a hole this is a marathon not a sprint. What matters is how the Bears are playing in Novemeber and December, not August.

Jesus, are you all serious? I know with all the collective coaching and scouting experience on this board that the answers should be obvious to the Bears staff, but c'mon, this is preseason. I watched the first half, and especially in the first quarter there were some real nice plays against the cards. Same w/ the raiders. There is a whole new offensive package in play; reverses, screens, wildcat, etc. And even more formations. What I saw is lack of execution at times (ball hitting Hester on the hands in the wildcat), two receivers in one place, etc. If they clean this up, and they will, this could be a VERY explosive offense. Remember, Hester also let a 50 yarder slip through his hands. Remember, this is all new, and much of this is what we've been asking for. Let it mature. Then comment. And on defense we have not seen the whole group out there yet. They do need to be healthy, but between Urlacher, Briggs, Harris, and Peppers, don't you see some reason for optimism? Over half the front seven are pro-bowlers. Gotta get some backs, and maybe bury the cover 2, but pressure should help them. Either way, focus on the offense scoring 28 a game and the rest will take care of itself.

Hey, Bruce, we will probably be accused of naive optimism,but I agree with your comments almost totally. I'm not ready to dump the cover 2, though, because it can work beautifully with the right front four on defense, and I see some evidence that those guys are going to make some big waves. I wish I could see the Thursday game, but then again, some last looks will be taken at players on the bubble, so the game will not be too indicative of what the real Bears will look like. The Detroit game will be the one that gives a clearer indication because they are a much-improved team. Let's continue to hope for the best.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on August 29, 2010 9:01 AM.

Urlacher, Roach, Briggs ... Injuries pile up was the previous entry in this blog.

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