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Don't feel sad. Four out of five ain't bad.
The wrong-way Bears were back in action Monday night (a 31-15 loss to the Saints that dropped them to 5-9) but who cares? Not when the four other big-time teams in town are either piling up considerably more wins than losses or giving their fans legitimate optimism that they will do so when their seasons happen in the middle of next year. Right? Are you with me? Hell, I'm not with me.
Because of course fans do care. We can't help ourselves. People who know Chicago sports know that there are Cubs fans and there are White Sox fans. There are Bulls fans and there are Hawks fans.
Everyone who cares about Chicago sports cares about the Bears.
And they are just killing us, aren't they?
One element of last night that drove me around the bend was penalties on special teams. A few weeks ago I caught a portion of an interview with Robbie Gould in which he was working hard to convince us that Joe DeCamillis is actually a good special teams coach, despite what we have seen with our eyes this fall. When I say that, I am referring to the now familiar ritual of the Bears playing terribly and then the head coach and selected players coming around a day or two later and telling us they didn't actually play that poorly, everything is still okay and no change or accountability is required.
Earth to idiots: We watch the games! We can see with our eyes that you are playing awful football and should all be fired!
Gould's assertion dovetailed nicely with the popular refrain in certain portions of the sports commentariat that Phil Emery didn't give DeCamillis enough decent special teamers when the roster was finalized at the beginning of the season.
Can people, led by the kicker, shut up about that now? Four months into the season, any decent special teams coach would have developed better units with the players the Bears have here than the units the Bears sent out on the field last night.
Another brutal penalty on the opening kickoff return set the Bears way back. The Bears ran a joke of a fake punt that didn't work. Even if it had, the Bears would have been penalized for not having enough guys on the line of scrimmage (there were only 10, total, on the field) when the play started. Enough is enough.
One usually can't be sure whether the problem in a given football sequence is the coach's plan or the player's execution. But I think you've got to put it on the coach when he can't even get 11 players on the field for a play as potentially pivotal as a fake punt.
The defensive coordinator has to be fired because he is completely and utterly overmatched by good offenses. The offensive coordinator has to go because rather than stepping up and weighing in publicly with desperately needed negative feedback for his quarterback, he took the weasel route and whined anonymously to a reporter. The main thing Kromer was doing was trying to tell that reporter, and the pro football world at large, that the Bears' struggles are not his fault. Let's remember first and foremost that Kromer's actions in this situation were completely self-serving.
Just to take this to the obvious conclusion: you can't fire both coordinators and the special teams coach and not fire the head coach. That would be brutally ridiculous. And the general manager who hired him ahead of Bruce Arians? Has to go. The team president who hired the general manager? Why on God's green earth would he keep his job?
Then there is the quarterback. Someone said to me the other day that "Jay Cutler is just not a winner. Guys don't play hard for him." In the past, I wouldn't necessarily have agreed with that statement. Plenty of guys are "winners" if their teammates are good enough and there is enough leadership coming from elsewhere.
But after watching Cutler the last two months, maybe he just is a loser. And no matter how good coaches and teammates are, they can't overcome a loser quarterback.
Hey Jay, try harder not to look so relieved as you trot off the field after another pathetic three-and-out, okay? I know you are glad to just get back to the sideline and kick back on the bench but aren't you at least a little angry every once in a while when you fail, and fail, and fail again?
If the Bears just cut Cutler before next season, the guaranteed portion of his salary will count approximately $15.5 million against the cap. I used to say there was no way the Bears could take that hit; no way Cutler wouldn't be the starter at the start of next season as well. With each passing game, that becomes less and less tenable.
And finally, I very much enjoyed Jon Gruden's commentary on ESPN last night. Quite simply, the man did not pull many punches. He found the Bears' stupid, sloppy penalties particularly objectionable but he spread around his criticism and did so with the demeanor of a former Super Bowl champion coach who knows terrible effort and discipline when he sees it.
Then again, he wasn't telling us anything we hadn't seen with our own eyes already.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, except when he is our man on Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.
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