A View From the Sidelines

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First things first: I am not a foremost expert when it comes to coaching football. However, I played football for ten years, coached collegiate football for two years and am now in my sixth year coaching varsity high school ball.

I am starting to see a disturbing trend in the NFL, especially with my beloved Chicago Bears: An overall lack of technique and fundamentals. Where do I even begin? In just a few football fodder filled paragraphs, I'll give it my best shot.

I coach linebackers at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, IL, and watching the Bears' linebackers makes me cringe. Don't get me wrong, the talent level the Bears have is awesome, but their coaching is putrid. Next time the Bears play, watch how often receivers catch passes within arms reach of a linebacker. The backers commit the cardinal sin of pass coverage: starring at the quarterback! It is unacceptable to play a zone defense and let receivers "sit in your zone" uncontested. I know the game is fast paced, but they should at least have their head on a swivel, looking for threats in their zone.

The second glaring coaching weakness is in their blitzing technique. How can you blitz an NFL offensive line, not "get small" and blitz with a sense of urgency? I can't even begin to tell you how many times I watch a Bears' linebacker blitz standing straight up, stopping their momentum the instant an offensive lineman gets their hands on them.

Coach Babich, please help take your linebacker unit from one the best in the NFL, to the BEST in the NFL. At some point in time, you must be held accountable for your linebackers' lack of technique and fundamentals. You had to have been a pretty decent linebackers coach to get this far in your career. Why is it, that when you made it to the NFL, you stopped coaching the fundamentals and technique?

Coach Marinelli, where do I even start? You have one of the premier defensive ends in the league and have wasted his efforts. Why are all of the other defensive linemen so slow out of their stances? Every one of our defensive linemen are in a no-win situation when they start by "catching" the offensive linemen. They should be firing out and delivering a blow with their hands to establish control of the offensive line; ours do not. We let the offensive linemen "get into our pads" and take us for a ride! Poor coaching Rod!

Do we have another rushing technique besides the speed rush? Teach our defensive ends how to use their hands and use technique to beat their man. Apparently, like Babich, once you make it to the NFL ranks, you don't have to coach because they learned all of these "things" at the high school and college levels. Right?

The emotionless Lovie Smith, what are you doing? You had an extra week to prepare for the 0-7 Buffalo Bills and you scratched and clawed for a win. A head coach should keep the team morale high and be able self critique your offense and defense in preparation for the next opponent. You keep the morale high, but you refuse to ask yourself, "How would I beat our team?" If you did, you would have "gotten off the bus running" from day 1 and never looked back. Who is the head coach, you or Martz? Take control of this team and put your name on it. You want to beat the blitz? Force Martz to run a draw, a few more screens and -- for the love of George Halas -- add some hot routes! Pull Martz aside and tell him this is Bear country and the 5-7 step drop against a relentless blitz is suicide. We can all see that you and Martz are not communicating. Haven't you heard of the saying, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer?" If this continues, you will look back on this season and ask yourself, "Why didn't I take control before I joined the unemployment line?" You may not have the visible emotion of Mike Ditka, or the aura of Geroge Halas, but there is something special about you. Do you mind showing us what that is?

Watch the Bears this Sunday against the Vikings and tell me if you see the same things that I see. I do not have a doctorate in coaching but I do know good fundamentally sound football when I see it. Obviously, I have to get a pair of coke-bottle glasses to see it happening in Chicago.

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  • Mike, awesome post! Loved the comment: ...ask yourself, "How would I beat our team." Couldn't have said it better myself.

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