NFC North: Lovie Smiht

Third and one: Bears

December, 14, 2009
12/14/09
1:10
PM ET
After Chicago’s 21-14 loss to Green Bay, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
  1. There has been some debate about assigning blame for quarterback Jay Cutler's two interceptions. Did Cutler make poor throws or did young receivers Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu run poor routes? We may never know the complete answers to those questions, but I’ll say this: Cutler’s mechanics were sub-par in both cases. Feel free to let me know if I’m wrong, but it sure looked like he threw both passes flat-footed. As we’ve discussed many times, footwork is usually the leading indicator of accuracy. In these cases, Cutler didn’t do everything he could have to avoid the interceptions.
  2. Safety Kevin Payne, who was reinserted into the starting lineup because he is supposed to be a stronger run defender than Danieal Manning, took a bad angle on Ryan Grant's first-quarter touchdown run. Honestly, I feel bad for Payne and everyone else who plays safety in Chicago. The Bears swap out safeties so routinely, as documented by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, that they must look over their shoulders constantly. All defensive backs get beat on occasion must have short memories. In Chicago, the leash is too short.
  3. I think it’s pretty clear the Bears could have dusted off Aromashodu a little earlier than Week 14. His eight-catch performance came against the NFL’s second-ranked defense, and it was similar to what many observers saw him do during training camp and the preseason. There are ways to employ four receivers even if you don’t use four-receiver sets during games: Creating roles for four players instead of three. Why the Bears felt compelled to limit themselves to Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox for the first 13 weeks of the season is beyond me. It took Hester’s calf injury to get Aromashodu on the field.

And here is one question I’m still asking:
There’s no need to pile on coach Lovie Smith for losing two timeouts on a questionable incompletion in the fourth quarter. We all know he made a big mistake, in part because of disorganization on the sideline. It didn’t impact the outcome of the game and it won’t cost him his job on its own. But I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the Bears’ executive suite. What was the reaction of the McCaskey family, of president Ted Phillips and of general manager Jerry Angelo? The franchise shouldn’t be willing to accept that a head coach in his sixth season would have an in-game structure so disorganized that it would lead to that chain of events.

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