Chicago Sun-Times

Is it time to panic after Bears' ugly loss to Chiefs?

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As The Daily Show's Jon Stewart would say, 'Did not see that coming.'

The Bears' 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Soldier Field was arguably the most perplexing loss in the Lovie Smith era. Even without quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears were nine-point favorites and at home. Except for a 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins as 13-point favorites in 2006 -- when the Bears were 7-0 and the Dolphins were 1-6 -- you have to go back to the end of the Ditka era to find a game where the Bears lost as bigger favorites.

And that stunning loss to the Dolphins in 2006 was a lot easier to take than this one. The Bears were still well on their way to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs when Miami coach Nick Saban, with two weeks to prepare, masterminded a colossal upset. That was a bad day at the office. Sunday's loss was fraught with disheartening long-term ramifications:

1. Caleb Hanie, who was expected to be better in his second NFL start, was much worse. He was 11-of-24 for 133 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions for a 23.8 rating.

2. Running back Matt Forte suffered what appears to be a sprained MCL in his right knee after being tackled by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson -- a direct hit on Forte's knee that had "Kermit Alexander" written all over it. Forte could be out 2-4 weeks or longer.

3. Even considering the absence of Jay Cutler and the injury to Forte in the first quarter, if the Bears couldn't beat a Chiefs team that probably would not have beaten any other NFL team on Sunday, what chance do the 7-5 Bears have of winning three of their final four games to finish 10-6? Even if Marion Barber gives them a semblance of Forte's production, Hanie has to take a giant leap just to be as good as Tyler Palko.

4. The Bears allowed SEVEN sacks to a Chiefs defense that came into the game with 13 all season in 11 games. Rookie linebacker justin Houston had no sacks before Sunday. He had three against the Bears. It seemed like the Chiefs pulled a page out of Dom Capers' Packers defensive playbook and totally confused the Bears as to which defenders near the line of scrimmage were rushing the passer.

5. The road got a little tougher Sunday when the Broncos and Tim Tebow rallied to beat the Vikings for their fifth consecutive victory. The Bears play the red-hot Broncos in Denver on Sunday. Then they face the Seahawks, who just whipped the Eagles 31-14 on Thursday night. And then they face the currently unbeaten Packers.

Reaction from the Bears was swift and predictable.

''We haven't played football like that this year,'' coach Lovie Smith said.

Most people watching both teams didn't even consider it football. But anyway ...

''I know we've lost some of the games. I'm normally talking about how all three phases helped us win the football game.''

Instead, he could only lament the mistakes that got him beat.

The Bears were 0-for-11 on third-down conversions.

They allowed the Chiefs to convert a ''Hail Mary'' pass into a 38-yard touchdown when Brian Urlacher inadvertently batted down Tyler Palko's pass to running back Dexter McCluster to give the Chiefs a 7-3 half-time lead. And while that was a fluke, they also failed to intercept Palko at all on Sunday. He came into the game with six interceptions in his previous two games.

And while special teams did get the Bears field position for their only points of the game when Devin Hester's 44-yard punt return led to Robbie Gould's 32-yard field goal -- Gould also missed a 41-yard attempt late in the third quarter.

''Offensively we didn't get anything done,'' Smith said. ''It's hard to maintain drives when you don't convert on third downs. They got too much pressure on us. We did a little bit in the running game [Barber and Kahlil Bell combined for 78 yards on 18 carries], but just never got anything going.

''I know Caleb Hanie will be blamed for a lot of it. But it's us as an offense overall. We didn't perform the way we needed to.''

Hanie's performance was the biggest disappointment. He was expected to pick up where he left off after a strong second half against the Raiders last week, but instead struggled with accuracy from the start. He had some extenuating circumstances, but had he been strong in the early portion of the game, he wouldn't have had the problems he had later in the game.

''Yeah, it felt a little slow at the beginning,'' Hanie said. ''I had a couple of drives there in the first half where you've got to get the ball in the end zone. Just missed opportunities.''

Hanie had some bad luck. He had a four-yard touchdown pass to Barber in the first half nullified by an illegal formation penalty. He lost an apparent touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the fourth quarter when a sharp pass over the middle in traffic deflected off Williams hands, was tipped by a defender and intercepted by Chiefs safety Jon McGraw with 4:01 to play.

''It was my fault. I've to make those plays,'' Williams said. ''Did that lose the game? Nope. There were a lot of things that happened before that that we could have stacked on. But in my mind, yes it does. In the fans' mind, yes it does. So put it on me.''

Hanie did not blame Williams for the unfortunate turn of events.

''Those things are going to happen,'' he said. ''People like to focus on one p lay in particular that makes or breaks the game. But there's a lot of different plays you can point at that we should have done better on. It's just one of those tough breaks right there.''

The Bears are enduring a lot of tough breaks recently -- perhaps finally evening things up after a fortuitous 2011 paved their way to the NFC Championship Game last year. Somehow they're going to have to turn their luck around in a hurry. Lovie Smith's stoic manner usually helps the Bears respond to adversity. But right now, it looks like that is asking a little bit too much.

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16 Comments

Unbelievably Bad, American Football..

A Total Waste Of Time & Money For All Involved. *Yet In Grand 'Lovie' Fashion, No One Wants To Blame Anyone. How Sweet Is That?

Last Week And Yesterday, Confirm That Martz Has Stopped Sending In Plays That Will Win Games.. Get Rid Of The Lame Duck!

Caleb Hanie Does Not Have The 'Moxie' To Be A Professional Quarterback.. Lose Him!

Khalil Bell, Is The Best Running Back This Team Has Had Since Thomas Jones.. Use Him!

Donovan McNab Is Available To 'Manage' The Offensive 11, To The Three Needed Wins.. Call Him!

O-line needs to actually block one; when Hanie didn't get happy feet (see 4th quarter) he did okay. Roy Williams might want to take the rocks out of his gloves and put some hands in there. Hanie might consider staying after practice and getting to know the other receivers besides Johnny Knox.

To all who ripped on him before, Cutler isn't looking so terrible now is he?

Lovie holds people accountable. He just doesn't do so during press conferences. It's called professionalism. Look it up.

Lovie is a good coach. Martz is a little crazy. Jerry Angelo ... meh ... he seems to neglect serious personnel issues like wide receivers and offense linemen (until this year). I'm not so sure there's a lot of options at GM right now.

The Bears have been ravaged with injuries.

Caleb is not good. But he did execute two touchdown passes yesterday that were taken away from him by poor pass catching execution.

I don't think you're watching the games.

This is an old, old story. I'm sure we all feel that way - writers, fans, everybody. The descriptions of Bear futility published in this column miss nothing and are well thought out. Lke everyone else I wonder what to do: replace Hanie? fire Martz? fire Lovie?.... What really gets me is the extent to which the Bears stink up the field - the uniquely Bear way when they lose - which is much of the time since I started rooting for them long ago. What this tells me is that ownership is the problem. After all, they are the only constant throughout the years. We need an owner like Tom Ricketts of the Cubs who was willing to go after the best young GM he could get to run the team, Theo Epstein; whereas we hired Angelo and Smith because they had no other offers. And since the McCaskeys won't change and won't sell the team, we are doomed to repeat these same old laments. It's all so sad.

bears should absolutely get mcnabb! we are not asking him to come be our starter forever just to get us at least three wins and into playoffs! Hanie is garbage and needs to be thrown out.

I have just recovered from throwing up blood since the torturous game the Bears played yesterday in Chicago.

It was an embarrassment to the city of Chicago, no question. Once again the cheap ownership shines through with Angelo not having the team prepared with adequate QB assistance or preparation. A few bucks could have been spent to ensure that QB position was not left to a second stringer who Martz did not even prepare with some consistent reps should Cutler go down.

Now we have to watch Hanie get his experience on the fly. Martz left him out for target practice yesterday, when he could have had max protect in instead of 7 step drops and 7 sacks to the worst team in the league in creating sacks the Chiefs.

The offensive line was ineffective, duh! When you have 7,8 and sometimes 9 in the box against a overmanned O line, no wonder. Martz would do us all a favor by taking his arrogance and attitude to another town and make them miserable with his emotional and non nonsensical play calling.

Forte is a warrior and the injury was very unfortunate. It is a joke that the Bears best player is not under contract for future years. Who would blame him if he left, of course he must have the franchise tag if good ole Angelo, Phillips and the McCaskey's find their long lost wallets.

If nothing else obtaining McNabb would be an uplift for the city and maybe give the appearance that the Bears care about the fans and are trying to solve the QB issue with a proven vet. McNabb is not at the top of his game but does have big game experience and is strong and had a few good games left in him. Plus he is from Chicago, jeez these guys Angelo, Phillips, Lovie and McCaskey's just do not get it.

The Bears D showed and then no showed during crunch time particularly on the long and torturous drive KC had from their own 7 yard line (or there about).

Isn't it amazing how well the Bears defense moved the ball when they were in the hurry up offense. Many teams utilize this offense for more than just the last 2 minutes of the game. Receivers were open and Hanie hit em, the Bears should have tied the game with the last play to Williams but come on they should never have been in that position against a team like the Chiefs. They should have been up by a few touchdowns and never had to rely on a miracle finish.

This game by a long shot was not just on Hanie, it was a team management and ownership loss of the highest magnitude. It would be nice if the city of Chicago and the fans could put some pressure on this aforementioned brain-trust group that can't even tie their shoe laces each morning, to either commit to a Superbowl championship team in Chicago not just mediocrity or to sell the team to an owner that will make that commitment.

All my best,
Dahlillama

in answer to your "panic" question, Mark," No." Had the other wild card contenders capitalized, my response would have been: "Maybe." The Bears have their future in their own hands, the same as they had last week. Unquestionably they need to improve across the board if they are going to make a solid run to anywhere but home for the play-off season. Hanie's performance was tentative and miserable for the entire first half. Then the offensive line turned into collective broken turnstiles."Broken" in the sense that the arms did not lock, but rather just kept spinning.Even when Hanie completed passes, that was more due to great catches than good throws. Jofnny Knox had two or three outstanding catches that would have made Haniie's performance even more heinous had he not made them. granted, a couple of key drops did not help, especially that by Williams, but the high pass in the end zone to a wide open receiver was all on Hanie , as were a lot of other poorl thrown balls. I'm thinking about giving the back-up's back-up a shot if Hanie does not improve markedly against Denver in the first half.

No it's not time to panic. How long did it take Cutler? Hanie will get "it", but since he had zero quality reps in real games or in practice this year, we will have to pay to watch bad football for a little while longer. Look at what happened across the sideline. That kid from the Chiefs played a lot better in his third game. If Hanie plays even that well, the Bears win the last two games.

The NFL coaching community should be flogged daily for the way they handle backup quarterbacks. It's sickening and they get away with it year after year.

Wait A Second Here..

You've Apparently Got Some (Non-Press) Access To The Behind The Scene Locker Room?.. And That Would Be How You've Seen This Accountability You Write Of?... Cause You Surely Pretend To Know What You're Talking About...

And Wow.,If It Were True?.. That Would Certainly Be Impressive...

...And Yet..

You Need To Make A 'Know It All' Coment Reply To My Blog, Whilst Remaining.. 'Anonymous'

It's No Wonder Then, You Are Lovie's 'Supporter'!!

Just Stare Up At The Jumbo Tron, While All Around You Falls Apart...

Cause You're As Gutless As Your Hero!

Your comments are dead on.

Why is everyone surprised at what happened on Sunday against the Chiefs, or what happened against the Raiders? What you should be surprised about is how the Bears managed to win games 6 through 10.

This is who the Bears are, a middle of the road team with an average head coach and well below average GM. The only times they have succeeded are when they have years with little or no injuries (see 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2010). Because of the GM's incompetence, there are no viable backups after the starters - and most of the starters are not NFL caliber anyways. So all you need are a few well placed injuries here and there, and the entire team falls apart. Unlike consistently good teams that seem to be able to miraculously plug in second and third string players with little or no drop off in production or competence.

The sad thing is that Bears fans buy into the fallacy that there is competence in the front office and coaching staff - year after year after year. And then people run around and say, "how come we lost to _________", or "why did _______ have _____ sacks / TD's / rushing yards, when they didn't have any in the last ______ games / months / years". This is what happens when you team is poorly coached with semi- professional players on it.

Also, this is what a backup QB looks like. As I said after Cutler was injured, backup QB's:

- throw interceptions
- throw into coverage
- overthrow and underthrow receivers
- don't realize when players are not lined up right
- take uneccessary sacks
- misread defenses
- scramble at the first sign of pressure
- lock on to receivers

.... so why anyone would have thought Hanie would be able to operate effectively is beyond me.

Maybe....maybe.....if we had decent receivers and offensive line and competent coaching, Hanie would be somewhat effective, but we all know that ain't the case. Below average receivers and a below average OL leads to what we have seen from the backup QB these last few weeks.

The worst thing about all of this is that - even after we lose the last four games - the McCaskey's are just stupid enough to extend Lovie and Angelo AGAIN because:

- it wasn't their fault, and
- we just had SO much bad luck with these injuries, and
- we would have won the Superbowl if they hadn't happened,
- etc, etc, etc.........

We can't let top flight talent like Lovie and Angelo get away because we all know that teams would be lining up to offer them millions for the annual playoff appearances, dozens of pro bowl players, and frequent NFL championships they have brought us since they've been here.

Well that was a special kind of torture wasn't boys and girls. If your going to blame people at least put it in the right place.

The injuries to Cutler and Forte only put the Bears on an even keel with the Chiefs who lost their starting QB and All Pro running back this year as well. Bears had home field advantage and several chances to win this game and blew all of them. For the second week a bad team tried to hand the Bears a win and the Bears failed to capitolize. Two dropped picks, three missed TD chances and bad special teams play for the second week in a row all contributed, so who do you blame. Well Lovie is right it was a team loss and team failure.

Lovie Smith brought Martz here and controls who is on his coaching staff. He has failed for two years to keep Martz under control. Lovie has proven for the better part of a decade that he knows nothing about offense. He hires an offensive staff gives them full control and only gets involved when the situation is desperate. Lovie is a head coach not a DC, he has failed this offense for years.

Chris Conte, not to hammer the kid, but as a rookie playing next to Urlacher you may want to consider that at this point in his career Brian Urlacher knows what he is doing, so let him do it.

Tillman and Jennings both dropped picks.

The Bears defense let the Chiefs have their best offensive performance in the last five games and the let them do that in the Bears house.

Hanie is not an nfl QB. The Bears would have known this but Lovie has never let him on the field and that pre-dates Martz. The Bears have had some blowouts and been blownout and never was Hanie put on the field in those situations to see who you have. Most teams do this, then they know if they need to address the position.

Special teams has been bad for two games in a row, Gould missing a 40 yard kick, Hester going the wrong way.

Forte is a very good player but I am pretty sure Jay Cutler is far and away the best player on the offense. You can clearly see what he has done to avoid sacks, and to make big plays. Did any QB do more this year with less talent around him, and with a Crazy OC and a head coach who does not seem all that intrested in the offense. Not just as a player who was surrounded by media attack dogs ripping him after last year, but a leader who took charge of the offense, called out his crazy OC and forced a change in the scheme, making a poor offensive line look better than it was and making bears butter finger recievers look better than they are. You tell me a single QB who has this kind of talent, this kind of OC, and had all that pressure put on him from last years playoff loss who did more for his offense this year. With all do respect to Matt Forte, Cutler makes the entire offense better, teams don't stack the box against Cutler cause they are affraid of what he can do to them, he is great at avoiding pressure, and beating the blitz. He sees the field a lot better than people give him credit and knows where the pressure is coming from. He can make every throw in the game, he clearly improved his accuracy, and ball security, and also took a big step forward as a leader.

I am not glad Jay got hurt, but I am glad that the very fickle Chicago fans who have given him #### for three years get a chance to see what difference maker he was for this team. Brian said it the day Jay went down, "it's all on the defense now." Jay Cutler is the Bears offense.

While I don't like Mike Martz or his scheme and play calling I am not fully blaming him for the offense. Mike Martz is not responable for for the game plan, or adjustments, he is not actually in charge of the offense. Lovie is, Martz just submits an offensive game plan to him and Lovie either says yes, no or change it. At any point Lovie can take over the offense and call plays, he tells Martz what to do not the other way around. Did Martz draft Hanie? Or has Martz always thought he lacked what it takes to be a backup in the nfl? Lovie much like his mentor Dungy does not get involved in the offense much. Problem is as a head coach he needs too, it should not take Cutler getting hurt in NY or having his brains beat in by detroit this year for Lovie to get involved. At this point in his career Lovie should be able to know what is good or bad for his offense. Much like he should have known Martz was not a good hire even if he was a good friend to him. Lovie has done a nice job with the defense but he really needs to be more involved with the offense.

John how long you been waiting to write that? Ummm I think your putting why Bears fans are surprised in the wrong place. I don't think anyone is surprised that Hanie is bad at least most. How bad is a different story, there is bad and then there is what we all saw Sunday. Bu the other reason they are surprised is because the Chiefs are one of the two worst teams in football. Remember Palko is a backup as well and he is really bad he had 7 turnovers in his last two games, he had zero against the Bears.

I get your mad but your wrong if you think the Bears can't beat a team like the Chiefs, they could have won that game. I think your missing the whole there is bad and then OMG, WTF did I just watch bad? You know there is a plane crash and then there is the Hindenburg.

Hey Dahli, sorry to hear about your illness, get well soon! Seriously, this was one of the most depressing Football Sundays ever for me. I'm also a Raider fan, so their blowout loss to Miami didn't help, but at least they were on the road, lost to a team on a winning streak, and had to travel all the way across the country. The Bears have no such excuses.

The supposed offensive performance was as bad as I used to see in the bad ol' days of Jim Dooley and Abe Gibron: complete incompetence all the way around. As some people have mentioned, K.C.'s defense only had 13 sacks all year before this game.

As usual, the problem boils down to ownership, which is both cheap and incompetent. The idea of a team in a major city being 20-30 million dollars below the salary cap is outrageous. And of course using a bean counter for team president so that the McCheapskys can keep their entire extended family living in opulence creates a no-win situation. Everything else, from Jerry Angelo to Lovie Smith to sub par players flows from that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: until and unless fans in Chicago stop going to games like we did in the '70s, there's no chance anything will improve. Even doing that might not improve things, but it's the only way to put pressure on ownership unless people are willing to picket their homes every day. When we stopped going to games, George Halas still ran the Bears. As cheap as he was, he was still a football guy and cared about winning more than anything. He was deeply embarrassed that the Bears stopped selling out games, which hadn't happened in decades. So it was the embarrassment as much or more than loss of revenue that drove Halas to hire Jim Finks and turn the organization around. Don't know if that would happen with this group. But on a positive note, maybe it would cause them to sell the team.

Sean, you didn't see that coming? That's what happens when you're not paying attention or haven't been a Bear fan long enough or just aren't enough of a Bear fan to care enough to know enough. By the way, Jon Stewart wouldn't even see a punch to his face coming is my guess.

CORRECTION: This should have been addressed to Mark, not Sean. Mark, you didn't see this coming?......Wake up and smell the coffee, and block Jon Stewart. Watch the Bears and not Jon Stewart.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 5, 2011 12:15 AM.

Matt Forte appears to have low-grade MCL sprain was the previous entry in this blog.

Matt Forte has Grade II MCL tear in right knee is the next entry in this blog.

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