Stop me if this sounds familiar: The Chicago Bears have a great record and are in charge in the NFC North. Last season it was 7-3, needing just a few more wins to secure playoff contention.
The disparity in what was supposed to happen since that 7-1 start this season and what has actually taken place is why this article is being written.
If the Bears take care of business, beating Seattle and Minnesota, then this discussion doesn't need to be had. However, since the Bears have won just one game in their last six, there are some seats getting very hot in Chicago, seats that haven't been hot for quite some time.
For Mike Tice, Rod Marinelli, Dave Toub and Lovie Smith, Chicago is no longer such a happy place, and everyone is looking over their shoulder now to see what is going to happen next, especially if the Bears miss the playoffs yet again this season.
Tice did wonders last season with an offensive line that was next to nothing talent-wise.
Tice was handed a group of players that, except for Garza, would never even see the field if they were on a team with even a little bit of talent on the line.
For what Tice was handed, he did very well on the offensive line.
This season, Tice was moved to offensive coordinator, taking the place of Mike Martz, who was run out of town last season, ending in him "choosing to retire."
Tice has done a subpar job with the offense and the talent he has this season as coordinator. His play-calling has been questionable at times, and as of late it seems that he just has no confidence at all in anything he does.
After being called out by Matt Forte for his play-calling being "predictable," now he has to deal with star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who called out Tice after Sunday's most recent loss, saying, "Everyone on offense needs to be held accountable, even if it means jobs."
Bottom line: Tice needs to go. He has lost the respect of the players on offense, who no longer trust him to make the right decision, like stacking a five-WR set on 4th-and-goal from the 1 against Green Bay. He can work wonders with an offensive line, but Tice does not belong in the driver's seat, calling the shots for the entire offense. After this season, Tice is gone.
P.S. Look for Jeremy Bates to throw his hat in the ring for offensive coordinator next season. He was brought in to help Cutler and Marshall, and he knows the offense and players as well as anybody.
Rod Marinelli has been in Chicago for a bit of time now, and the defense under him has always looked strong—until the second half of this season.
This season started out featuring the best defense in the league, leading in scoring, takeaways and points allowed. Now, they are just a mockery of what they once were, with injuries all over the field, and are allowing rookie quarterbacks to drive down the field and handle them twice in one game to secure a loss in a much-needed game.
This defensive collapse is not the fault of Rod Marinelli. Marinelli is barely able to implement his own coaching style with Lovie Smith breathing down his back constantly, micromanaging every single situation and not giving Marinelli a chance to coach his defense.
Should Lovie Smith be involved in the defense? Absolutely. He knows more about defense than a lot of other coaches out there and has proven he can be successful doing it.
That being said, it'll be surprising if Marinelli decides to come back and coach under Lovie Smith again next season.
Would it be nice to see him come back and work with players who love and respect him so much? Yes, and it seems like Marinelli knows how to get the most out of his players on his defense as well. But as long as Lovie Smith is there in Chicago, it's up in the air whether Marinelli will be there as well.
Bottom line: Marinelli should be back helping the defense next season, but as of right now, it's up in the air whether or not we'll see him on the sidelines in Chicago again.
This one should not even be a question.
The Bears may have had an off-year in the special teams game, but that doesn't mean that there are better special teams coordinators out there who can do what Toub does year in and year out.
On the Devin Hester note, there has been a lot of talk about the fall of Hester and who is to blame for it. If only one thing is for sure, it is that the fall of Hester is in no way the fault of Toub.
Lovie Smith is the man who wanted to make Hester a big-time receiver, which took his focus off of his return game, and as a result he has suffered tremendously for it. If anybody is to blame for what has happened to Hester, it is Smith, not Toub.
Bottom line: There is no question that Toub is the best special teams coordinator in the league and that he will be back with Devin Hester next season, cooking up more trick plays and trying to restore the Bears to their 2006 special teams glory days.
An era in Chicago may finally be coming to an end, and it should.
It's time for everyone to realize that Lovie Smith is not what he was made out to be, and that his time in Chicago is over.
Smith came in and took the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006, but since then the team has been always hovering around mediocrity, and if that attitude is allowed to continue in Chicago, it's going to mean more collapses and more angry fans for the Bears.
2012 is just 2011 all over again, except that this time, Jay Cutler has been here for the whole thing. The fall from the top, not being able to beat any opponents that are remotely close to them talent-wise, the embarrassing losses to Green Bay—all of it has to come to an end. This attitude of mediocrity can not and should not be tolerated for a team with such a storied and treasured history.
The problem in Chicago is not the quarterback. It is not injuries, and it sure as heck isn't anything else. It's the coach and the attitude of mediocrity that has been acceptable all season long, and last season too.
Bottom line: Lovie Smith has to go. Whether the orders come from the McCaskey family or Phil Emery, it doesn't matter. The final result has to be a change in Chicago, so these collapses can stop happening, assistants can finally do their job and players realize that the "Ehh" attitude in Chicago will be no longer.
Smith has to go, and it has to happen this season. His time in Chicago is done, and a new era must begin so that the team can still have some hope of winning with the talent that they currently have on the team.