On Monday November 5th, 2012, the Bears had a 7-1 record and had just scored 50 points on an (albeit bad) team for the first time in 32 years. Super Bowl talk was in the air after the Bears had beaten up on largely inadequate competition.
Flash forward to December 17th. The Bears have lost five of their last six games, and now six in a row against their hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
I just heard that NFL analyst Hub Arkush still thinks the Bears will win their final two games at Arizona and Detroit and make the playoffs at 10-6. I do not. Not only do I think the Bears will not win at Detroit, I question whether they will beat the Cardinals.
Firstly on the Packers, I can’t help hating them. And I can’t believe I’m about to commit blasphemy by saying Aaron Rodgers and his receivers are so good that I would like to actually start wishing them well the rest of the year (since the Bears are obviously out).
Now don’t freak out, I’ve tried to attempt to wish the Packers well for many years and have never been honestly able to do it. But just because our biggest rival has successfully built a team with a dominating offense (regardless of their MANY flaws), what’s the reason to vehemently hate them because our team is continuously pathetic? Even from my mediocre seats in Soldier Field yesterday, I was amazed by watching Rodgers repeatedly thread the needle with passes we have NEVER seen from a Bears quarterback.
But anyway, every time I think about the potential for Lovie Smith and his staff to be dismissed, I just can’t help but worry about what the Bears organization will do to replace him. The team’s track record for hiring coaches is obviously littered with underwhelming decisions.
And given that Philadelphia and Cleveland are locks to fire their coaches and Arizona, Carolina, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Dallas and Kansas City may very well do so, the Bears would be in immediate competition to hire a competent full staff.
Let us remember that in 1993 Mike McCaskey went on a ski vacation at the end of the year while Mike Ditka twisted. In 1999, that same McCaskey completely screwed the pooch on his first choice then underwhelmed with the hire of nice guy Dick Jauron–and did it so late that every competent assistant coach already had a job. Then in 2004, Jerry Angelo embarked on a slow, methodical cross-country search, reportedly offering the job to Nick Saban, Jeff Tedford and Kirk Ferentz who all turned him down. Then he anointed Lovie Smith the savor when once again every other coaching hire had been made.
What makes us think they will make the right, decisive decision this time? As much as I’d love to see Sean Payton wriggle loose of the Saints and the Bears to make a gigantic offer for him, it’s not happening. Ditto Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden. Nobody knows if Cowher ever wants to come back, and I suspect Philadelphia will pounce on Gruden, making him theirs quickly.
Should they fire Smith and eat his $6 million salary next year, which is not at all a lock, who then would they hire? Chip Kelly? Doubtful. A hot assistant such as Tom Clements, Mark Roman or Rick Dennison? Maybe. Might the McCaskey family intervene and decide that the Bears’ tradition of hiring defensive coaches for the head job needs to continue forever? Very likely. Would they base their search first on whether the person is a “fine man” that toes the organizational line in a quiet manner? (See Wannstedt, Jauron and Smith). I believe that would be the first concern with the hire, which is not the way to ensure a successful football future.
So no, I’m not optimistic no matter what happens. Following a team that has dropped 29 of their last 39 games to their hated rival has something to do with that.