Initial disclaimer here-it is actually quite possible that should the Bears lose to Green Bay for the ninth time in the last eleven meetings then fail to make the playoffs as I predict, it is quite possible that the organization may still bring Lovie Smith back as head coach. So I’m not claiming to predict that if the Bears lose once again to the Packers, Lovie will be gone, because everything in this organization’s history tells you that they may stick with Lovie because he’s a “wonderful man” and his temperament represents the McCaskeys perfectly.
But I would like to think (and/or hope) that if the Bears do once again prove they are too incompetent to beat their arch-rivals more than once every five years, and they do not have success in the playoffs, that there is a real chance that Smith will be fired.
I should hope that Smith’s only chance to come back for at least another year is if he shows his team can beat Green Bay in this huge of a game, and he has some success in the playoffs (getting past the first round).
But as Dan McNeil writes today, Smith’s future is anyone’s guess.
As far as Smith’s coaching career goes anyway, it’s hard to argue that this game isn’t the most important game of his career. Yes, one could make the argument that a loss would be caused by lack of talent outside of Smith’s control, or the recent spate of injuries. But I also consider several questionable coaching decisions over the last several weeks (non-conversion on fourth-and-one, pass play on third-and-one resulting in seven points for the opposition) as evidence that Smith and his staff are at least equally culpable.
I believe a caller spurred discussion earlier this week on the Boers and Bernstein show that really caused me to think. (I can’t remember if it was the caller or Bernstein that made these statements). The point was, we have all seen the Bears looking confused and befuddled on offense not only (but primarily) this season. “How many times have we seen Devin Hester line up wrong or drop a pass….how many times have we seen Jay Cutler scowl at another player because due to a mental mistake such as running the wrong route, the Bears faltered,” Bernstein said.
If Smith and his staff can’t motivate and teach their players to line up right, run the proper routes, get plays in on time, and learn not to drop CRITICAL passes, then blame can be placed nowhere else but on them. When Kellen Davis and Devin Hester are continually on the starting unit when practically all they have done all season is make mistakes and drop passes, tell me one can blame that one anyone else but the staff? I don’t think so.
I like the fact that Brandon Marshall has come out firing on the Packers-and I’m sure he knows he’s very likely to have to eat those words. But he may feel as I do, when his team has had a 36% winning percentage against this opponent, might as well pull out all the stops because it can’t get much worse than it already is.
I just went through the record since 1994 again. As of today including the playoff game, since 1994 the Bears have a 10-28 record against Green Bay. I also pulled out my trusty 1988 Bears Media Guide, and following that season the all-time record between the teams was 78-55 in favor of the Bears, which was a 23-game lead. After the last 19 seasons of carnage, the Bears’ lead is down to seven games (94-87).
Look, I would absolutely love to see the Bears win Sunday, I’m hoping for it, I’m pulling for them to make the playoffs, even if a first-round win means a one-year contract extension for Smith. But unfortunately there is nothing that tells me they will beat the Packers for the first time since September 2010.
Seems to me this is the most beatable Packers team since then-so I would LOVE to think that they could win. But history tells me not to be hopeful.
I’ll leave everyone with this, since I’m on record predicting the Bears will lose to Detroit and miss the playoffs. Should this happen, the Bears will be the first NFL team since the playoff format changed in 1990 to start 7-1 and miss the playoffs. I hope this does not happen, but am afraid that it will.
Actually no, my last words are that it really sucks to walk out of Soldier Field being taunted by Packer fans after yet another Bears loss.