I didn’t write about the Packers/Bears game yesterday because I wanted to collect my thoughts on a year-ender. Why a year-ender when there is one more game, you ask? Because there is no way in hell that I am watching the Bears vs. Vikings this Sunday afternoon. And as any self-respecting Bears fan would, I'm asking you to do the same.
No, I’m not asking for a boycott. And I’m not even asking you to return those Bears Zubas to Kohls. I’m just arguing that the best way to hit the Bears where it hurts and force them to spend money on a competitive team is to clean out your closet or go to a museum on Sunday afternoon. It’s only one game. Besides, the idea of Josh McCown handing off to Kahlil Bell doesn't spur me to set my DVR.
Once again in front of a national audience, the Bears proved that they were a) overrated, and b) out coached. They sent in the scrubs to compete and their stars dropped the ball. What else is new. When one phase plays their hearts out, the other side of the ball folds. There is no team on this football squad. It’s just disjointed athletics.
So what has to change? Everyone on Twitter (and around my living room) wants Angelo, Lovie, Martz and a couple of position players gone. But that’s not realistic. So I’ve come up with my blueprint for what the Bears need to do to keep me around next year. If they even care.
Keep Jerry Angelo: The embattled GM is taking it on the chin for his lack of roster depth. I can’t blame the critics, as the back-up QB play was sub par. But to his defense, Angelo was given a no-brainer opportunity after Chicago fell in love with Caleb Hanie last January. Keep him, and don't worry about paying a better back-up. Chicago fans are as much to blame as Angelo on that one. Down the roster, Angelo has made many poor decisions. And that’s essentially what you do as a GM, right? Field a roster?
A fitting example of the problems? When the offensive line was introduced (in their own voices) on Sunday night, it was a huge list of b and c-list colleges, and one high school. Guys from Northeastern Texas A&M or Southwestern Louisiana Technical College are on an NFL squad? Do they play football at DeVry? Jerry, are you biased against blue-chippers? Take a page from Pax and draft champions.
In the end, Angelo might get the ax - and it'd be hard to argue against that move. But remember, for as bad as the Bears looked down the stretch, they also looked like real contenders during the middle of the season. We need to shore up weaknesses, not completely dismantle. It’s a Super Bowl win or bust.
Keep Lovie Smith (with conditions): Lovie is so hot & cold, he might as well have the nickname “Kitchen Faucet.” It’s not a sexy nickname, but it applies. When the Bears are hot, it feels like no one in the league (not even the hated Packers) can beat them. But when they're cold, oh my, it’s bitter. At some point, responsibility for that has to be on the coach and motivating his players.
The reality? Lovie got an extension last year and isn’t going anywhere. But to follow up a big surprise year (2010) with a total letdown (2011) is blasphemy in this town. If you are playoff caliber, stay playoff caliber. Not Super Bowl loss, miss the playoffs for a few years, get back in and miss them again. So like Jerry Angelo – Lovie should get one more shot. But under one condition: He wins the Super Bowl. Anything less is the end of the Lovie Smith era. I know that’s a tall order, but that's the hole we are in.
Fire Mike Martz: Congratulations, sir. You have built an offense that can’t be learned in a pinch. That’s all I know about your game, because I see other offenses in the league having WAY more success than you are. And your stubborn, long-winded play-calling has cost us about three games. That’s a lot of games if you are an offensive coordinator. I’d be okay to let this joker go. The Martz experiment got us a pasting in the playoffs and a back-up bumble-f&^% in 2011.
Fire Rod Marinelli: The defense was a huge letdown this season, playing stout for some quarters and miserable for others (see second half vs. Packers). They have yet to put together a string of dominating performances that we were supposed to see. They were supposed to lift the team while the offensive struggled. Instead, they did everything they could to keep the team a touchdown down at all times. The Cover 2 is like Martz’s offense: complicated and well dissected. Maybe it’s time to lose this defense that every offensive coordinator, quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver and offensive line knows how to beat. And with aging linebackers, I’d much rather see a 3-4 defense in place that favors bruising play rather than sprinting down the middle of the field.
Here’s what I think the Bears need: A safety. For far too long, the Bears have played without a proven, dominant safety. When Mike Brown was healthy, that’s when we saw glimpses of greatness from this squad. They tried Major Wright, but unless I’m missing something, he isn’t getting it done. Neither is Conte or Steltz or Merriweather or whatever other special teams guy that can play that position. Give us a top five safety and let them roam in the Cover 2. It's a must-change.
Here’s another: Wide Receiver. Quick, rank the Bears starting WR’s: 1. Bennett 2. Um… 3. Um…. 4. Johnny Knox, maybe? 5. Who cares.
That’s essentially what you have at a position that takes the pressure off our running game. That’s pathetic. Jerry Angelo (and whoever convinced him) should probably be fired for acquiring Roy Williams. That was your answer? He was downright awful and probably cost the Bears a game or two this season. So again, the Bears need a WR who mentally forces defenses to change their game plan. Cutler likes to zone in on one go-to guy and throw to him 20 times (see Brandon Marshall in Denver). The Bears need that guy.
One more thing: Offensive line. Sure the Bears lost two starters this season to injury. But let’s face it, Carimi wasn’t blazing up the charts after his first two games and Chris Williams was a turnstyle until he got hurt. So if you want to show me you are serious about winning football in Chicago, get a pro-bowl caliber offensive lineman. I don’t care how you do it. It’s the NFL, all contracts are void. So start voiding and replacing, please.
And while we are at it, can you please get a back-up QB, another linebacker, a second cornerback and another defensive lineman?
Jeesh, that’s pretty much everybody on the team. Bear down Chicago. It’s time to focus on the Bulls.
I have to stop writing now. I'm next in the return line at Kohls.