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SportsMonday: Tipping Point For Lovie

Jim "Coach" Coffman talks Bears with Rick Kogan on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift every Monday afternoon.

At this point it shouldn't be about whether Lovie Smith will be fired. It should be a matter of taking responsibility for the year-after-year failure to lead a team to even one win against its historic rival. And it should be an acknowledgement of failure to deliver on what the coach enthusiastically if laboriously acknowledged was his first priority when he was hired.

The Bears shouldn't have to fire Lovie Smith. He should step down at the end of the season.

Or he should admit that all that stuff about the importance of beating the Packers was bunk . . . which it was. A coach's first priority is to win championships, for gosh sakes. And if the Bears make the playoffs (still clearly a possibility with road games remaining against only the miserable Cardinals and Lions), they'll have a chance to win a championship.

That should have been the focus all along.

We know the coach whose team lost its sixth straight (including playoffs) to the Packers 21-13 on Sunday won't be resigning before he is fired (for one thing, he would be giving away more than $5 million bucks due to him in the final year of his contract).

And he won't ever admit that saying that beating the Packers was the most important thing was bullshit, especially considering that edict came from the McCaskeys.

But it says here that barring a shocking playoff performance by his team (a first-round victory as a wild card and at least competitiveness against one of the top two seeds), it will be bye-bye Lovie at the end of the year.

A tipping point was reached with this latest loss. It is now more probable that he will get the axe than that he will stay on as coach.

If nothing else, we need someone else to kick around around here.

And I'm definitely not on board with just firing yet another offensive coordinator. Mike Tice has struggled in his first year calling plays (more on that in a moment) and if Smith gets the boot, Tice almost certainly will as well. But the Bears desperately need some continuity on offense from this year to next. Surely sticking Jay Cutler with yet another overall offensive scheme isn't going to improve matters.

The wild card will be quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. The Bears brought him in almost exclusively on Cutler's recommendation and whoever might be head coaching next year would be well-advised to hang onto him. Bates does have experience as an offensive coordinator. But he was fired by the Seahawks in 2010 after only one season at the helm.
Maybe Cutler can be a player/coordinator with assistance from his buddy/coach Bates.

Lovie's Bus
The worst thing that could have happened to the Bears offense did: Success with the run right off the bat.

The Bears are still determined to establish the run first, foremost and forever despite the presence on the roster of a potentially great quarterback.

So they keep running and running and running some more on first downs. And they never transition from running to the first-down play action passes that all the best offenses use to actually make big plays and start piling up points.

Of course, all of that conservative play-calling also dovetails with weakness in pass protection, but that is a topic for another day.

After the Bears ran for three first downs on their first drive, they proceeded to run for 1 and -3 yards on first and second downs the next time they had the ball. Third-and-long was then followed by the inevitable punt.

On their next possession, the Bears did start with a pass to Matt Forte. It seemed like progress but the pass was incomplete and soon the team was punting again. The time after that, Forte ran for no gain on first down. Later in that drive a first down rush netted three yards but then a second-down scamper resulted in 22 and a few plays later, Brandon Marshall was going in for the score.

Then the offense really bogged down. With four minutes left in the half the Bears got the ball back with the score tied. Two Forte rushes resulted in zero and -2. After another punt, the defense held and the Bears got the ball right back but that was when Jay Cutler proceeded to throw his worst pass of the season for the interception that set the Packers up to take the lead for good.

On the Bears' first possession of the second half, after they had fallen behind 21-7, Forte ran for five yards on the first play. After a pass for a first down, Forte again took the handoff on the following first-down play and, as he had so frequently in the first half, gained nothing to set up second-and-long. Soon the team was punting again.

At that point, the Bears had squandered enough possessions to ensure that the rest of the game would be a futile scramble to rally from too far down. Memo to Mike Tice et al: You have to be more aggressive earlier in the games. Modern Offensive Football 101 practically starts with the lesson that early success running the football does not mean just keep running and running. Early success running the football sets up fake runs and gives receivers much better chances to get open.

But that's Bears football - no matter how the offensive coordinator is. And that's why it's Lovie who must go.

Lovie Wire
* Urlacher Tackles Fans, Media In Defense Of Smith.

* Smith: Playoffs Are Still A Reality For Bears.

* Haugh: Fading Team Needs Change.

* Mariotti: Lovie Smith Era Is Over.

* Couch: Bears Must Fire Lovie.

* Schefter: Lovie's Last Home Game?

* Matt Spiegel singing on The Score: "Lovie's nuts roasting on an open fire . . . "

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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