Since starting this site I've tried to keep perspective and reason on most Bear related news. I've tried to avoid the "Bench ____" and the "Fire____" after one bad game kind of crap. If you care to go through the archives you'll find some fairly extensive pieces defending both Ron Turner and Jerry Angelo. You'll find me defending Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton (but not Brian Griese. Fuck that fucker. Fuck him long, and fuck him hard). But after yesterday's debacle I'm finally deciding that "keeping perspective" means taking stock of the situation. For a long time I haven't even given the "Fire Lovie" crowd a rebuttal because it seemed downright ludicrous. I actually remember the 8-24 Wannstedt death spiral of 1997 and 1998. I remember the Cade McNown days, and the darkest points of the Jauron Era. Say what you will about Lovie Smith, he brought a measure of respectability back to a franchise that should never have fallen far enough to need to that. But after seeing the Bears get completely manhandled in every single facet of the game in two of the last three games against teams that, while certainly better, do not have That much more talent than the Bears, I have to say it's time to side with the mob.
This should not be happening. There's enough talent on the Bears roster right now to be competitive. Cutler, Forte, Hester, Bennett, Knox, and Olsen all showed yesterday why this offense has a young, cheap core of skill position players that you can build around. They'll be excluded from this rant. On defense, however, Lance Briggs is about all you can point to and say "there's a keeper." Charles Tillman is still a quality corner, and I don't blame him for struggling in single coverage against Chad Ochocinco or Larry Fitzgerald when his idiotic coach decides to run a linebacker blitz every god damn play and leave Tillman with zero help from a safety or nickel. Especially when Kurt Warner can just fucking double or triple pump, step up in the pocket, dance around, or do whatever the hell he wants because the pass rush isn't even close to getting him. Think about that. Kurt Warner, a man famous for making Drew Bledsoe look mobile, easily evaded the "rush" all damn day yesterday. But it's still not the talent on defense (even though there's not a lot back there) that's sticking in my craw. There are teams out there with less than stellar talent who can avoid giving up 31 points in the first half, which the Bears have now done twice in three weeks.
What's bugging me is, once again, the stubborn nature of Lovie Smith. The Tampa Two works with a hall of fame caliber defensive tackle. Warren Sapp was one. Tommie Harris may have been on that path, but he's a shadow of his former self and a fucking moron to boot. His ass should be first on the chopping block this offseason unless he suddenly turns it on (little secret: it ain't happenin'). It's not fucking working. It hasn't worked since 2006. It won't work again. The sheer stupidity of continuing to run it over and over again boggles the mind. All day long yesterday Lovie sent linebacker after linebacker on blitzes up the middle and left Tillman alone on an island against Fitzgerald, or Bowman matched up against anything that lives, breathes, and has hands. The results on both sides of the field were bad. I'm tired of seeing it. For that alone he should at least be on the hot seat, if not the chopping block, but I'm not done yet.
There's cap room on this team. Cut Harris and Vasher's ridiculously high contracts, and there's even more room to work with. Let Ogunleye walk and you've got more money opened up. I don't even know what free agents are going to be available this year (I could probably find a list, but the NFL's such a crap shoot with franchise tags and transition tags that it's a hell of a guessing game as to who will actually make it to the market), but a few well placed signings and a change of coordinator and scheme on defense could make all the difference. Look at the Broncos and Saints. Both of them added a reputable coordinator (Mike Nolan, Gregg Williams) and a few well placed veteran free agents (Brian Dawkins, Darren Sharper) and it's made all the difference, so don't tell me it can't be done. There's enough talent on that defense to be mediocre. That would, believe it or not, put this team in contention. Right now they aren't even competitive. Aikman said yesterday that "at least they still have two games against the Vikings." I'd rather eat glass than watch what Jared Allen's going to do to Jay Cutler. I'm still going to watch, but after sack number 6 just picture me bleeding from my gums after trying to take down my beer, bottle and all. I can't even imagine the Favrellatio that will ensue from what that old fucker manages to do to this porous excuse for a defense.
If you want to know what really threw me into a boiling fit of rage and cemented me in the anti-Lovie camp, it was sending Cutler back out there with a minute and a half left in the game. He's been sacked 19 times this year and Lovie's tempting fate by throwing him out there in a completely lost cause. The only thing not driving me into the total depths of despair right now is the fact that Cutler is the most important piece to any future success this team will have, and if they fuck up and get him injured that can go right out the window as well, so fuck Lovie.
Going back to all that cap room I mentioned above, however, does anyone feel confident Angelo can use that money effectively? I agree he's probably bought himself more time than Lovie has by making the trade for Cutler (and Knox, actually, since Jerry took him with the 5th round pick the Broncos threw in), a move which at least showed that Jerry's not quite as complacent with the status quo as his milquetoast head coach, but I still don't think he can pick out a quality free agent if his life depended on it. He got lucky in the past with Thomas Jones, Fred Miller, John Tait, and Ruben Brown, but he went ahead and shit on those pick ups by trading TJ and sitting on his hands while those three lineman aged and then collapsed in 2007. Of his three big signings this offseason Pace is old and ineffective, Omiyale is riding the pine, and Tinoisamoa is sitting in a hot tub. Guh.
I didn't say much after the Bears got blasted by the Bengals. I didn't want to speak too soon and make an ass of myself in the anger over a loss, but this time around I don't think anything I'm uttering is uncalled for. Angelo and Smith should get all the credit for saving this franchise four years ago. They should also take all of the blame for what's happening now.