Chicago Sun-Times

Fate moves its huge hand closer to Bears panic button

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In his eighth season as the Bears' head coach, Lovie Smith knows the drill. Not only did he predictably avoid any hint of panic after the Bears' 27-17 loss to the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field, but he spent almost as much effort in his post-game new conference talking us off the ledge.

''We'll clean those things up."

"Third game of the season."

"We're not there yet."

"There's a lot of football left to go in the season."

"Give us time."

You can't blame Lovie for seeing it that way. But you don't have to watch the film to get the idea that Sunday's game said much more about the Bears than, as Smith put it, "They were better than us today."

The Packers' victory was yet another sign that this isn't 2010, when the Bears had so many things going their way. A year ago, the Bears won a similar game against the Packers. But that time the punt return for a touchdown wasn't called back by a penalty. The Packers weren't called for 18 penalties. The Bears didn't get the takeaway at the right time.

Last year the Packers were the better team and lost. This time they were the better team and won.

''There's a reason we didn't play well,'' said linebacker Brian Urlacher, who had seven tackles, an interception, a tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup. ''They made us look the way we did today. It's just the way it goes.''

Though the game was close, it wasn't difficult to see that the gap between the Bears and the Packers is closer to widening than closing. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers. The Bears don't. The Bears can't cover Greg Jennings or Jermichael Finley and they can't block Clay Matthews with fewer than three players.

When the Packers lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga to a knee injury in the first quarter, they replaced him with Marshall Newhouse, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010 with a grand total of zero NFL snaps on offense. The Packers gained 295 yards (5.0 per play) and scored 20 points after Bulaga went out.

When the Bears lost Gabe Carimi to a knee injury at the end of the first half against the Saints last week, they replaced him with veteran Frank Omiyale and gained 98 yards (3.0 per play) and scored three points after Carimi left the game.

Injuries to Carimi, Chris Harris, Earl Bennett, Major Wright and Marion Barber already are more costly than any injury problem last year. Jay Cutler is on pace to get in sync with his receivers just about the time the weather gets bad.

After three games, the NFL's new kickoff rule already is having an impact on the Bears' return game. They've resorted to trickery to make an impact and already wasted what is likely the most ingenious trick Dave Toub has in his bag when Johnny Knox's 89-yard punt return, aided by Devin Hester fooling Packers into thinking the ball was coming him, was nullified by a penalty on special teams ace Corey Graham.

That right there should tell you the Bears have bigger problems than finding a way to beat the Packers. Not that it can't be done -- an improved offensive line can go a long way and remaining schedule appears much more playable. But it's pretty clear the challenge for Lovie Smith and his staff will be trying to fix one problem without another one cropping up.

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8 Comments

As far as I can see, the Bears' problems go higher than the players. The players need to make plays--yes this is a true statement. But on this team, the players either are not being held accountable or not taught the right way to make the plays--this falls on the shoulders of the coaches. If they cannot make the plays, they should not be here--this is the fault of Jerry Angelo.

Using Bears history as my baseline, I for one have not seen apathy on the part of players like this since the Neil Armstrong era. The "we just had a bad day" reply is the product of the Lovie Smith era--when what this team needs is someone who will hold them accountable, like--sorry to say it--Ditka used to do. We are told Tice and Marinelli and Martz are "the best in the business", but so far they have seemed to be among the worst. The offensive line is simply amateur on their best day, the receivers miss passes hitting them in the numbers and the safeties are too slow to react to stop a touchdown in an effort to "disguise their defense"? Special Teams, a constant overachiever is finally showing their age and with the rules change simply cannot be counted on to make up for the inabilities of the offense and defense.

With players like Logan Mankins, good enough for New England, publicly wanting to be traded, and Plaxico Burress available, even Randy Moss (still) available we have Jerry Aneglo saying he is "happy with the team we've got". The Bears are--what, $19 million dollars UNDER the cap--but won't sign any free agents or trade to make the team better? Could it be because the teams don't HAVE TO spend 98% of the cap until next year, and get to keep the extra this year, that the Bears are making no moves?

A lifetime Bears fan, I am disgusted by the recent turn of events. Papa Bear would be embarrassed and must be spinning in his grave. Shame on you, Bears top brass, from Virginia McCaskety on down--this is NOT the product the father of football intended to have produced in his name.

I agree with Brian Urlacher, its Aaron Rodgers, and no, Chicago doesn't have Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is elite, Green Bay had him fall right in their laps thanks to the 49ers being stupid enough to take Alex Smith back during the 2005 draft, Alex Smith!! Think of all the grief the 49ers would have saved the Bears had they only had a decent scouting department and went with Rodgers over Smith! Smith!!

The problem in Chicago isn't necessarily a lack of talent on offense, no the line isn't great, they have a decent runner in Forte, the receivers are lacking a true split end (effective outside threat), but with the right scheme on offense, I think Chicago could win. This offense is not gonna win with Martz's scheme, they're simply not built for it. This offense is built for more of a west coast type scheme. Martzs offense will never be totally effective while in max protection like the Bears were in yesterday, and Martz's scheme requires elite receivers which Chicago doesn't have. Should be interesting but looks to be a long long season GO BEARS!!

Kevin A. Rodgers is an elite QB, but that had nothing to do with the loss yesterday. We were out-schemed through and through, the pack knew the BEARS were coming into the game short-handed and mcCarthy set plays up specifically in the RED zone to take adavanatage of the weakness.
They were also effective running the ball, and they unlike us still realize if you plan to RUN the football you need a lead back to help create some holes. This Martz scheme is really getting old, he has the ability to mix-up the plays, but he just won't do it. As soon as the BEARS get down by a score the whole Damn game plan goes out the window. We have one of the best backs in the conference getting less than 12 carries a week, what kind of BS is going on with the club. We all knew we had a tough early schedule and losing these games is no surprise, but it's the way the team is playing that is disheartening, they are regressing while other teams are imporiving, I just hope we are at 500 after the viqueens game or this season's sunk.......

I would love to see Rodgers on the Bears offense, then I could watch him get his @$$ kicked week in and week out.

Rodgers is good but that is a loaded offense, with a perfect scheme for the players and great coaching. It's an offensive minded organization, that has been running the same scheme for 2 decades.

I don't think the Bears recievers belong in a WCO offense, or any offense starting, drops are drops, and bad routs are bad routs. Olsen was the best fit for a WCO but he is gone.

I also don't think the line would be that great in a zone scheme seen in a lot of WCO, Carimi does not fit it at all, Garza is at the end of the road anyway so he does not matter, Spencer was really bad in the Seattle zone scheme, Chris Williams does not belong in the NFL, not sure about Webb, he is athletic for his size but is he athletic enough for a zone scheme?

But Forte, Cutler, Olsen(to late), sure, they are perfect for it. We saw Cutler in a WCO, sure it was the Shanahan misdirection version of it, but boy he was good in that.

You always wondered if I could hate anyone more than Angelo? Well Martz is making a serious run at the title. But Lovie is making a strong push, because he brout him here and is letting him run loose.

Hey guys, got a rare chance to take a look at the blog. Stuck in Texas working on their wildfire issues and can't get much more than late ESPN stuff.

It's not like we have a choice at this point. Nobody wants to hear it, but Lovie could be right. I was expecting the O-line to take 4-6 games to gel without Kruetz. It could still happen. Did last year.

We are not going to know about the receivers or anything else until the line get's better. It all hinges on them. The first thing I'd do is sit Omiyale and try one of the kids there. You gotta look down to see Omiyale's ceiling.

I do not agree with Creighton all that often, but I definitely agree that Rodgers would get killed behind the Bear Offensive line and with Bear receivers.I still have hope that the ship will be righted before it totally sinks or is eviscerated by coral reefs, but time is passing quickly even though Cutler is not.I do remember the Bears getting better as the season went on last year, but they have farther to go this year.

Comes a time when supporting this bunch - as in "Go Bears" - is silly.

Finally, someone points the finger where it belongs - at Virginia McCaskey. I heard MIke Ditka shake his head on TV and say "she doesn't have any of her farher's blood in her." Folks, Virginia has been the problem for two decades.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on September 26, 2011 9:02 AM.

Where do the Bears stand after first 3 games? was the previous entry in this blog.

Why Dane Sanzenbacher being one of leading receivers is a problem is the next entry in this blog.

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