The Bears are not very good. I thought they were and then they weren't. If it's not the offensive line, it's fumbling in the red zone. If it's not fumbling in the red zone, it's throwing mindless interceptions. If it's not throwing mindless interceptions, it's the head coach having no idea how to utilize the challenge flag. The Bears have a good enough defense and special teams to compete with just about any team in the NFL. But to call their offense bad would mistakenly assume that what the Bears do when they possess the football is "offense". It's not. It's a series of unrelated plays that only occasionally, and often by pure chance, move the ball forward down the field. (Never on third down, as Thom Brennaman likes to remind us.)
The biggest problem facing the Bears organization? The Packers and Vikings aren't very good either. Neither are the teams in the NFC East, South or West. If the Bears manage a split with the Minnesota Vikings - who'll most likely start Tarvaris Jackson by Thanksgiving - there is no reason to believe any of the teams in this division will be able to run and hide. The division crown may be on the line at Lambeau Field on the final night of the regular season.
And if that is the case, and the Bears have an opportunity to win the division that night, victory should not guarantee Lovie Smith's return in 2011. Michael McCaskey, always speaking at the least appropriate time, has declared that Lovie does not need to win the Super Bowl to return next season. Starting right now, Lovie Smith should only be considered for a return if he does the following things. (1) Oversees an improvement in the overall offensive play throughout the year. (2) Wins the NFC North and the home playoff game that follows. Even that should not guarantee him anything more than consideration.
And I'll add one more thing. In two weeks, in Toronto, the Bears will play the winless Buffalo Bills. The Bills are bad but they moved up-and-down the field on one of the best defenses in the league in Baltimore yesterday. If the Bears hand this team their first win of the season, Lovie Smith should be fired before he walks through American customs after the return flight. And Dave Toub - not Rod Marinelli or Mike Martz - should assume the head coaching throne.