By S.C. Zuba
It’s no surprise the Chicago Bears have had their fair share of woes this season.
The 2009 season will be remembered as a season of disappointment—one where nothing went quite as we had all imagined.
The Bears have been nothing short of a trainwreck. From their “franchise-saving quarterback,” Jay Cutler, to their “franchise running back,” Matt Forte, to their defense that was supposed to be revitalized by the addition of Rod Marinelli and the demotion of Bob Babich, everything has been a disaster.
After the 31-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Cutler had thrown a league-leading 25 interceptions this season. When the Bears traded for Cutler, they knew he would take risks, but no one could have predicted how few of those risks would pay off.
The Bears rank 32nd in the league in rushing with 86.5 rush yards per game and only six touchdowns on the season—a far cry from what they were last year when Forte had a break-out rookie season.
The defense, under Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith, is tied for 14th in the league with the Carolina Panthers, giving up 329.7 yards per game.
When a team has played this poorly and failed to make the playoffs for three years in a row, all fingers point to the head coach. Yet, up until just before the game last Sunday, it seemed as though Smith’s job was safe. That assumption was partly because Smith is still owed $11 million on his contract.
However, in a pregame meeting with reporters in the M&T Bank Stadium press box, Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo said finances would not factor into Smith’s future with the organization.
“I don’t look at money in those times. It’s not about money. It’s about doing what we need to do to be a good football team,” Angelo said.
When asked if the final three games of the season would affect the way Angelo evaluates Smith’s future, Angelo had the following response: “Very much so. We need to get a win. That’s very important right now. I feel we’ve been competitive, we just haven’t been able to win.”
The Bears have played awfully this season; that is no secret to anyone. The last three seasons the Bears have been 7-9, 9-7, and this season, their best-case scenario would be 7-9. That is simply unacceptable.
If Angelo is watching the same football team the rest of us are, it is difficult to find an argument to keep Smith around. If the Bears are going to make a coaching change, they need to do it now while proven head coaches are still around, like Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan.
Angelo said it’s about winning. Now, let’s see if he really means it.
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From the Dec. 23-29, 2009 issue