11:45 AM CST, January 23, 2012
What I learned about the Bearsfrom the Giants-Niners NFC Championship Game:
The Niners reminded me of the Bears who went to Super Bowl 41 and lost to Indianapolis.
The 2006 Bears had a quarterback who could kill you as quickly as he could win a game for you.
They had the defense that was monstrously good, thriving on turnovers, not just getting them, but scoring, too.
They had a running game that ate yards and ate clock, which gave the defense a rest and gave all of us a break from the sketchy quarterback.
Alex Smith, meet Rex Grossman. Frank Gore, shake hands with Thomas Jones. Patrick Willis’ defense, pull up a chair with Brian Urlacher’s defense. You get the idea.
This season’s 49ers team seems modeled on Lovie Smith’s old Bears, which is part of the reason the Niners lost the NFC Championship Game to the Giants, who represent what Smith’s new Bears want to become.
At least, what Smith’s new Bears ought to want to become.
Problem is, the Bears almost never show the desire or talent evaluation to become that kind of team.
No, wait, check that: Smith has stressed some of the salient traits the Giants rode to the Super Bowl.
For example, Smith said a pass rush is important, like the one that threw down the elusive Smith three times and made him throw horribly numerous other times Sunday. Yes, Smith has stressed that.
He just hasn’t figured out how to get an actual pass rush on a consistent basis.
Smith, in fact, has been wrong for years on his choices at defensive tackle, specifically and most obviously the undertackle position that remains the heart of his Tampa-2 defense. That failure leads to the realization that Smith doesn’t know safeties any better than he knows defensive linemen.
But the greater lessons the Bears can learn from the Giants are on offense. Are they ever.
From what you saw of Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham, which Bears wideout would you take instead?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Would you take Earl Bennett over any of those Giants? Only if you hate speed.
Would you take Johnny Knox over Manningham? Well, good luck, sucker. I’ll take the Giant with more catches, yards and touchdowns the last three seasons.
Nicks was a first-round pick, Manningham a third-rounder, and the remarkable Cruz went undrafted, so, whichever way you look at it, the Bears got pantsed.
The tailback discussion, however, is something the Bears have figured out. Matt Forte ran for 997 yards before getting hurt. Not only did Forte finish with more yards and a better average than any Giant, but he finished with a better average by more than a yard per carry.
When it mattered, however, Forte rushed for only six touchdowns, while Marion Barber had three for a combined nine, or the same number as Bradshaw by himself, while Jacobs had another seven.
Most importantly on offense, the Bears have the quarterback. Jay Cutler is every bit as tough as Eli Manning was Sunday. Cutler, however, has nothing close to Manning’s accomplishments. Part of the reason is the Halas Hall brainiacs haven’t given him the kind of game-breaking weapons Manning has.
Offensive weapons and a deadly pass rush are the two greatest failures by the Bears, the two biggest areas that leave them behind the Giants.
If their new fake general manager can’t fix those areas, the Bears have no chance next season. Heck, no chance in any season.
I don’t know if Bears people who matter were watching, but they need to become the Giants even more than they need to become the Packers. In fact, if they indeed were more like the Giants, then they probably wouldn’t lose to the Packers four times in one calendar year.
Think about that: Smith lost to his greatest rival four times in 2011 and gets job protection because, I guess, Virginia McCaskey said so.
If only Virginia had told her management bozos it’s OK to get good receivers.
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