After a winter of hibernation, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith gave his state of the team address last week, commenting on the sins of the past and hope for the future.
Smith talked about what the Bears need to do moving forward.
When asked (via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune) if the Bears were looking to improve the receiver position, Smith said at the combine, "Wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line, O-line, running back, the works. Wide receiver is part of that."
He's either not wanting to admit a weakness, or otherwise saying, we're in disarray everywhere, and the future is bleak if we don't get lucky in free-agency and the draft this year.
Being one to look at the glass half-empty when it comes to the Bears and Smith, I'll go with the latter. The onus has to fall on Smith and departed GM Jerry Angelo for the current messy state of the Bears.
Despite Smith's never-ending optimism when talking about Brian Urlacher (via David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, reality is starting to set in -- just not with Smith.
When asked about getting younger at the linebacker position, Smith replied, "We have concerns, but that's not one of them. Brian Urlacher's in perfect health. In time, when he can't play any more football -- five, six years (from now)."
Since that would put Urlacher at 40 years old, Smith must believe there is no reason to believe the future Hall of Famer's play will diminish any time soon. That's wishful thinking.
The Bears have over $26 million in cap space after the release of defensive tackle Anthony Adams. They need to use that money wisely to fill holes that are obvious to everyone but Smith.
They need at least two wide receivers better than what they have now. One of them has to be a No. 1.
Adding those pieces and strengthening the offensive line will make quarterback Jay Cutler even more effective than he was last year before his injury.
On defense, the Bears still have issues in the defensive backfield. That's been a problem ever since Lovie came on board. Despite being a defensive specialist, Smith can't seem to find a safety to save his life. Improving the corners is another concern. The Bears have an aging Peanut Tillman and not much else.
The defensive line is Julius Peppers or bust.
At linebacker, Urlacher and Briggs are still performing well, but at their age, and with no one currently on the roster to replace them, the Bears window is shutting fast.
New GM Phil Emery has walked into a snake pit. He doesn't have time to learn on the job. If the Bears don't have a strong off-season, their fate for the near future is set.
Lovie sounded like Emery was lucky he was "forced" to keep him as coach (via Biggs). "As (for the) new GM having to keep me, I don't think any of the guys (candidates) looked at it that way. Hopefully they looked at it as a great situation they were coming into, a team that two years ago was in the NFC championship game, a team that was 7-3 this past year before injuries happened."
On a positive note, some reality finally crept into Smith. In other words, he admitted he made a mistake.
Via Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune about the disaster at quarterback after Cutler went down, Smith said, "Each year you learn something. We thought we had a better plan at quarterback."
This is the same Smith who said people should "trust" him and his decision making after he let former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera go after Super Bowl XLI. We know how that worked out.
Still not getting it when talking about backups at the QB position, he mentioned the failed Caleb Hanie as still being in the mix.
He also mentioned the injuries to Cutler and running back Matt Forte as the reasons for the teams' demise last year (via Biggs). "We have an excuse for why we didn't make (the playoffs.) That was a pretty good football team and I thought we'd handle it better."
They could have handled it better if they had a better coach. With Cutler and Forte out, the Bears sank faster than the Titanic.
Good coaches overcome adversity. Lovie just makes excuses.
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