State of the Bears

State of the Bears
E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune

And what a bear of a season it has been. Chicago has gone from a team among the top in the NFC at 7-1, to 8-6 and plausibly in position to miss the postseason. At times like these, we need someone, or something, to take the fall. But who’s to blame? The coaches? The Players? Injuries?

Certainly, as is almost always the case, it’s been a combination of the three, but someone should still be held accountable. Change is needed. The time to move on is now.

After nine years to no championships, it’s time for Lovie Smith to be cut loose. He’s coached back-to-back seasons in which his team, regardless of injury, squandered red-hot starts to finish cold as ice. He has a losing record against teams above .500. He has an uncanny inability toward change. He’s a jag to the fans and a jag to the media.

Lovie Smith is not a bad coach, but he’s proven unable to win a championship. He’s simply worn out his welcome.

The face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher, doesn’t care about you and appears nearly done playing football. And the remaining core of the Bears’ defense are all in their thirties. Peppers is old. Briggs, while still playing at a high level, is on the back-9 of his career, and Charles Tillman is in the same sinking boat. If Smith goes, so goes the Tampa-2, and with that comes a brand new Bears.

Chicago has their “franchise quarterback” supposedly; assumedly. But he’s entering that 30 club too (albeit as a QB), and he’s been hammered and beat up around here for the better part of four years. Cutler’s contract is up after 2013, and Phil Emery has to ask himself what he does with a player who has shown zero signs of improved decision making and mechanics.

If the Bears give Jay an extension, it would be for a lot of money—hometown discount or not. But serious questions about a guy who be a concussion or two away from the end, and who just hasn’t played well consistently, have to be asked. Who knows if Emery will want to give him new paper . . .

The is a chance—a slight chance, I admit—that Emery could try and shop Cutler and draft his future guy. With the recent success rookie quarterbacks have been having in the League, given a decently high draft pick, the chance of getting a young guy to contribute right away could be good. If this is truly Phil Emery’s team, you can’t count out these types of scenarios.

The truth is we don’t know much about Emery or the team he wants to build. Presumably, he has candidates in mind to coach his football team, regardless of Smith’s future; it’s probably something he knew before he ever came to Chicago. Either way, I have to think he knows what he wants to do with the current head coach already.  

But if Emery’s gonna do it, he needs to can Smith ASAP following his team’s ultimate elimination. This off-season, a lot of teams will be in the head coach market.  If you want a bigger-name head coach, Lovie has to go the day after the season ends.

There is some young talent on this team, but not much. On defense there are a handful of guys. Guys like Melton, Wootton, McClellin and Paea are pieces you have moving forward. If the next coach comes in and runs a 3-4, McClellin could be a main piece on defense. It is still obvious that a 3-4 blitzing linebacker is his most natural position.

There are a lot of scenarios that could unfold come January. Most likely of which will be Lovie Smith and his clown crew being fired, although Dave Toub could see an opportunity arise. There is a good chance that Toub would have a chance to interview for any head coaching vacancy here in Chicago.

With the success of John Harbaugh in Baltimore, hiring Toub could be an option if Emery decides to go with a first time head coach over someone like a Todd Hayley, who he is friends with, or a guy like Jon Gruden.

After all these years of defensive-minded head coaches in Chicago not getting the job done, it would make way more sense to hire an offensive minded coach; especially in the style of today’s NFL.

So, will this be Emery's team? Or is the McCaskey family still pulling the strings behind the curtain?

Filed under: Coaches and Management

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