What a difference a week makes.
After coming off of an unexpected, exhilarating win against the Green Bay Packers (no, I don't give a damn that it took Aaron Rodgers getting injured to do it), we are back to the crippling depression known well to Chicago Bears fans following a 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Putting yourself ahead of the game in the division with that victory in Wisconsin — about as hopeful a feeling as you can encounter — then squandering an opportunity to grab the division by the throat and win at home puts the team and its fans right back behind the proverbial eight-ball.
In what is turning out to be one hell of a rivalry, the Lions came to town for a meeting along the lakefront this past Sunday at Soldier Field. I don't know about you guys, but there aren't too many teams I despise more than the Detroit Lions (that goes for any sport), and it all starts with their head coach, Jim Schwartz.
He leads this band of misfit cons-on-cleats crew, fronted by Donkey-Kong Suh and Nick Fairly, who are undoubtedly two of the dirtiest players in the league. And just like that, you have yourself the NFC version of the Oakland Raiders.
Not only do Schwartz’s abilities as a coach leave much to be desired, but his ways as a disciplinarian are just as unfortunate. To be one of the most undisciplined teams in the league on an annual basis takes a special kind of puppet, one who lets his players pull the strings instead of the other way around.
As a matter of fact, I’ll go so far as to say there would be a plethora of different coaches who would have had a much more successful run with that team and that talent than Schwartz has — it's actually all very Matt Millen-esque.
If his record of 28-45 with a .384 win percentage isn't enough to make you understand just what kind of incompetent leader we are talking about, just go back to Sunday’s game and the four personal fouls his team committed (and they got away with at least two others) as they tried their hearts out to relinquish the lead over to the home team in the waning moments.
This allowed the Bears a second shot at knotting the game on a two point conversion attempt. An attempt that didn't have the best wide receiver duo in the league on the field at the same time, might I add. A very Matt Millen-like decision of their own. But I digress …
We all know what happened in the game on Sunday; we watched it, and I don't need relive that with you guys. We all know that the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team, especially when the struggles impede the expectations that have been built up over the last three plus months.
We know that management has a huge decision to make in regard to Jay Cutler. If he gets to the open free agent market, his kind of talents will command large sums of cash that the Bears do not want to get into.
The franchise tag is an option, but if you are going to expend that kind of money for one player (the tag for Cutler would be right around 18 million per year), you might as well sign him to a long term deal. Or, if you can convince him to sign a one year deal with an average base salary, nice signing bonus — incentive laden, of course — that would be the best case for all.
YES, even for Cutler!
He gets to play behind that vastly improved offensive line with weapons all around him. Plus, if his rapport with Marc Trestman is as deep as it seems to be, the comfort factor alone should be enough to convince him to give this system and the organization one more year.
I think using the franchise tag would be much more beneficial on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears have 43 million in cap space available for next season and only twenty-eight players under contract. With the way Tim Jennings has played this season, he might be the one most deserving of that tag — he’s arguably the best player on that side of the ball this season.
Toss into the ring that this might be Charles Tillman's last go around in the orange and blue, and that pushes Jennings’ value through the roof.
Despite the loss, there were a few good things to take away from the game. One of which is that the offense looks good enough to get by no matter who is at the helm this weekend. Two, the defense played its best game since Week-1 against the Bengals.
Chris Conte not only managed to be an impact player — a positive impact player, that is — coming up with an interception and a huge batted ball against the best wide receiver in the league in a one-on-one situation. This was surprisingly the only time throughout the game which I almost had a heart attack.
Stephen Paea Came up big along the defensive front, especially against the run game, and Corey Wooton continues to show his versatility, making plays in the back field from both the end and tackle positions.
When you look at the grand scheme of things, we need to win five games out of our last seven to have a chance to make the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Where exactly we find five wins on the remaining schedule, I have no idea.
What I do know is that every game from here out turns into a must win, and that is an unsettling feeling.
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Filed under: Post Game Report