As of the time this article sees the light of day, your Chicago Bears are 2-2 and heading into Detroit for a Monday Night Football game against the 4-0 Lions. They already have had one of their losses handed to them by the 4-0 Green Bay Packers. Both teams that are either a champion already or on their way up to major playoff contention and both stand in the way of the Bears getting to the playoffs.
The harsh reality is this though folks – the window has closed on the Chicago Bears, and its because of the failures up top.
I know people hate Lovie Smith and his deadpan style, and would much rather have a fire and brimstone guy they can relate to – fans are like that; if your team sucks, you want a coach who is as big a meatball about it as you are. It helps them relate. But the reality is, when the talent is there, Lovie’s System of Cover 2 defense, while it gives up yards, has been historically very effective against high powered offenses, even containing Green Bay to enough of a degree that the Bears have had an edge against them during Lovie Smith’s tenure. However, things are different now, and it’s not because Lovie’s defense has changed. Rather, one can look at the years and years of very bad drafts and mind-boggling philosophies that come straight from the top of the organization.
The first part of this is something that should be familiar to everyone – the Bears just have had years of bad drafts and busts, and have been trying to cover them up with the hit or miss free agent market. Names like Michael Okwo, Jerron Gilbert, Dan Bazuin, Juaquin Iglesias, Al Afalava, Craig Steltz, Dan LeFevour, Marcus Harrison, Josh Beekman, Kevin Payne, and on and on. The Bears do occasionally manage to scrape some mid-level talent from these drafts, like Greg Olsen and Johnny Knox, but tend in some cases to really overvalue their role to the team (as in giving them more importance than they should have based on their talent level just because they aren’t an outright bust like most of their picks). Others, they hit on in some area, but then overextend into areas where they don’t belong – Taking Devin Hester, the Best Returner Ever, and making him into a below average WR. And yet on the very rare chance they do hit on something of value, they either don’t appreciate the value of it (Matt Forte) or don’t understand what they have (Earl Bennett).
Which leads me to the second part of this equation – the Bears, from the very top, don’t understand how to construct an NFL offense. Its just not intrinsic to what they know, and it doesn’t help that the guy at the top, the Team President Ted Phillips, was given the job out of loyalty for being a great accountant – NOT for being a smart football man with a vision. Funnel that down to Jerry Angelo, who is equally as clueless, and you can see the front office is just as clueless as some of the fandom they represent when it comes to offense.
If people remember, the year before they got Jay Cutler, Angelo went on record that the Bears didn’t need a franchise QB to be successful. Then the following year in a once in a lifetime move, they gave up 2 #1s in what I still contend is a franchise-caliber quarterback. But then we heard from Angelo the expectation that somehow now a franchise quarterback is like magic pixie dust, making everyone around him magically better – a mentality that not only continues to haunt the Bears, but infects its very fanbase.
The Bears traded for franchise quarterback, but refused to get him weapons or protection in REAL wrs and the offensive line. They turn to Mike Tice and Mike Martz, two alleged gurus at their positions, to turn the Bears chicken bleep into chicken salad. They do everything they can to NOT address the real issues of lack of talent. And finally, it’s caught up with them, as Green Bay has already known how to identify talent all along, and Detroit with all their talent finally has a front office and head coach that knows how to use it.
Meanwhile, the Bears risk ruining their franchise QB just because they were too stupid to give him the tools he needs to succeed, and insist coaches instead try to bring out talent in players that just don’t have it.
If things continue like this, the Bears are in for a long drought being the 3rd or possibly in 2 years time even the 4th best team in the NFC North. Its not that the Bears couldn’t right the ship quickly if they had a solid plan in place, got in the right talent, started going after FOOTBALL PLAYERS instead of ATHLETES and trying to make them something they aren’t, and so on. If they did that, the Bears could be right back in the mix in 2 years, maybe ready to contend for a Superbowl in 3.
But the issue is, who do you trust to execute such a plan? Angelo has failed. Tim Ruskell, his potential replacement, has a record of being average in his drafts. And more than anything, more than even the ability to audible, what Cutler needs most are WRs and an Offensive Line he can trust. And a front office that he can believe in to get it done.