9:33 AM CST, December 4, 2012
Will we look back at the Bears’ embarrassing home loss to the road-pathetic Seahawks and identify it as the game that marked the beginning of Lovie Smith’s end as coach?
Smith is under contract for next season and Sunday’s galling overtime debacle might turn out to be just a bad week if the Bears regroup to finish the season big.
But if not, I don’t think it’s a reach to see the Seattle game as the time Smith moved contract extension to wait a minute.
Smith took the blame for not having his team ready, as well as for a game-turning decision. I believe Smith made the right decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches. The collapse at the end is the bigger problem. The collapse at the end is one of the worst things for a defensive-minded coach such as Smith.
The Bears allowed a 12-play, 97-yard go-ahead drive to a kid quarterback running a college offense late in the fourth quarter. Next drive, Seattle rookie Russell Wilson did it again on another 12-play drive, this time moving 80 yards before throwing the winning touchdown.
Smith’s defense looked unprepared for Wilson's read-option and then failed to adjust. Julius Peppers indicated as much after the game, seemingly indicting Smith. Whatever, nobody figured out anything, and they had 24 plays to do it. Players looked physically and mentally dead by the end.
The Bears lost for the third time in the last four games, a spiral that now includes losing to a bad team along with the failure to beat a good opponent. If they can’t beat good teams and now can’t beat bad teams, then the Bears had better hope they get Illinois in the playoffs.
If, you know, they even get there.
Smith’s football team also lost control of first place in the NFC North on Sunday. The Packers hold the top spot by virtue of beating the Bears -- by virtue of always beating the Bears.
Scary thing is, this deterioration could continue when you consider the Bears’ confluence of looking old and slow on defense, playing inconsistently on both sides of the ball, and getting injured all over the place.
Look, nobody thought they could stink they way they did down the stretch last season. Even without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, real football teams should beat Tyler Palko and Tim Tebow. The Bears didn’t. Smith’s Bears didn’t. Smith’s Bears choked a playoff spot.
That cost Jerry Angelo his job. But not Smith. Bears wonks ordered the new general manager to retain the coach.
But presuming Phil Emery has the authority Bears wonks allege that he has, the GM faces a real decision if Smith’s football team misses the playoffs.
Smith’s football teams will have missed the playoffs for an inexcusable fifth time in six seasons. Smith’s football teams will have won one playoff game since the 2006 postseason. Smith’s football teams also will have failed to win the Super Bowl, which is the big goal Smith himself cited when he took the job nine seasons ago.
On Monday, a day after watching his team choke live and presumably after watching video of it, Smith said he didn’t know why his defensive ends lost outside contain that allowed Wilson to destroy the Bears.
So, to recap, the Bears weren’t ready for Wilson’s read-option, didn’t adjust successfully during the game, and still couldn’t figure it out a day later. Indeed, there’s a great chance that we’ll come back to this game and its fallout as the time the Bears decided they needed a coach who can resolve at least one of those things.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC