I was thinking about a potential off-the-wall suggestion for a great Chicago Bears coach in the next few years, and potentially I’ll write about that next week.
But before I do that, I just want to make sure we all realize that in my opinion, the Bears’ problems are about 90% personnel and 10% coaching. Nothing will change until severe problems with talent on the offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, running back and safety are addressed.
Sure, in the current conditions every stupid coaching mistake is amplified. Every time the Bears are penalized for having 10 or 12 men on the field, every time the Bears force a third-and-nine only to give up 12 yards, and every time Lovie Smith is shown on the sideline with his dumbfounded yet confident smile, it sucks even more.
But with an actual pass rush and NFL safeties, the Bears defense would look like it did in 2006, even with this scheme that looks so horrific in 2009. And I’ve come to a conclusion about Ron Turner. If he is provided with an above-average offensive line and at least one above-average running back, his scheme can win games. In 2005 and 2006, the house of cards line Jerry Angelo built was holding strong. Thomas Jones had hit his peak, and at times Cedric Benson looked interested.
But in 2007 Ruben Brown was injured and the play of the tackles and center started to decline. Thomas Jones was gone, Cedric Benson didn’t seem to care about the responsibility of being a load back, and the team has regressed since then. Without the required personnel to run his scheme successfully, Ron Turner looks like John Shoop. And remember that when Shoop had the pieces he needed in 2001, his unit didn’t perform to the depths they did after the strong players started getting injured the following two years.
Take Brad Childress in Minnesota. He’s been given one of the best offensive lines in football, great receivers, a quarterback that at least for now is playing the best he has in his career and potentially one of the greatest running backs of all time, and he’s rewarded with a Lovie Smith-esque contract extension. But take away some of those pieces, and Brad is back to being Chilly.
Unfortunately I don’t see a way for the Bears personnel problems to get fixed before Smith will be fired following the 2010 season. Problem is if the next coach fields the same poorly assembled team, the mere coaching change will do no good other than giving Smith and Turner a paid vacation 99.9% of the human race would die for.