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Hard Knocks Life: Bengals Humble Bears

Mike Burzawa

Die hard Bears fan and lead blogger at Bear Goggles On

A complete train wreck. Is there any other way to describe what was supposed to be a football game between the Bears and Bengals on Sunday?  The stars of HBO's latest edition of Hard Knocks series put a beating of epic proportions on the Modest of the Midway.

On the day when the Patriots and Tampa Bay Bucs squared off in the NFL's annual trip to London, it's good this games wasn't played overseas. It would be hard explaining to a football newbie what that was, because it sure as hell didn't resemble football.

Nothing went right for the Bears as they bowed to the Bengals 45-10.  If there was any consistency in that game for the Bears, it was that all phases of the game failed.  The Bears lost the opening coin toss and it was downhill from there.  They couldn't even win a challenge. 

When they forced the Bengals to punt once - yes - the Bengals set up to punt about halfway through the 4th quarter - the Bears ran into the freakin' kicker.  If that doesn't sum up the type of effort put forth by the Bears, I don't know what will.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but for starters, the defense draws most of my ire.

The Bears once-proud defense got torched for 45 points and the Bengals let off the gas midway through the 4th quarter.  I say "once-proud" because that defense is gone.  Dead and buried.  The defense that took the Bears to the Super Bowl is no more.  Get used to that idea, at least for this season.

Sure, the Bears were without 3 key defensive starters on Sunday.  Urlacher and Tinoisamoa are out of the season.  Tommie Harris continues to suffer from a knee injury that sidelined him for the first time this season.  It's clear that he's not the same player and probably never will be.  Who is responsible for this defense again?  Oh, the Head Coach.

lovie and babich.jpg

Lovie Smith and Bob Babich didn't have any answers for the Bengals attack that put up 45 points.

Lovie Smith painted a giant bulls eye on his back last offseason when he took over the defensive playcalling duties.  There is no other fall guy or scape goat.  This all begins and end with Lovie.  Less than a week after the Bears looked totally unprepared for the Falcons and their no-huddle offense, they looked even worse facing the Bengals.

It is Lovie's Tampa-2 or Cover-2 that Carson Palmer completely dissected for 5 TD passes. It should be called Cover-0 because it didn't look like they were covering anyone.

It was pitch and catch most of the day for Carson Palmer, Chad Ocho-tweeto and company.  Bears D does this, Bengals do that.  Bears show blitz, hit the hot.  Bears back off with only 7 in the box, bring Benson. (More on Benson's big day here).  Palmer abused the Bears defense like a red-headed stepchild. 

The Cover-2 is predicated on a couple of simple principles at key positions.  It requires a 3-technique tackle that can get upfield to disrupt the pocket.  It requires a middle linebacker with great speed to cover the deep middle in pass coverage and be explosive enough to fly sideline to sideline.  It also requires a safety that can quarterback the defense and get the secondary into the right coverages. 

Right now, the Bears have exactly ZERO of those positions adequately filled.  It is time to dump the Cover-2 and move to another scheme.

If Smith cannot adapt to the personnel that he has, it is time to adapt to life without Smith.  Everyone was fine to brush off a tough road loss to the Falcons, but the beatdown at the hands of the Bengals is a failure of more epic proportions.  This was a complete and utter disembowelment.

The Bears face the Browns next week, which is the closest thing they'll get to another BYE week.  There is no better time to jettison Lovie and his staff.   There is still time to save the season, but if this regime continues to trot out more of the same defensive coverage and predictable offensive play calling, there is no choice but to move on. 

Let me say that I don't think there's any way that the Bears organization actually dumps Smith.  The McCaskey's are far too loyal and even more cheap to eat his contract, but we die-hard fans can dream, can't we?   



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