Chicago Bears fans have had to grin and bear (down) some very bad performances this season. It feels the same as last season when the Bears lost five straight games to fall out of the playoff picture.
And with the current downward spiral that might keep Chicago out of the postseason for the second straight season, it should be considered that head coach Lovie Smith's time with the Bears is running out.
After a 7-1 start and some people seemingly claiming the Bears were the favorites to go to the Super Bowl, they have lost five of their last six and are now on the outside looking in.
Sure, you could say that injuries are a big factor in those losses and that the backups aren't as good. But I counter that with the belief a coaching staff should have their players ready to go in at any time.
Last season, Chicago looked to be one of the most dangerous teams until quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb and was lost for the entire season. Backup QB Caleb Hanie was not adequate. That is why Chicago went out and signed Jason Campbell, who has had a career starting for the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders.
But when he came out for a poor performance in the 32-7 loss at San Francisco (throwing for 107 yards), it showed how unprepared this Bears offense is without Cutler.
Even with their star quarterback, the Bears are ranked 28th in passing offense. With the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, maybe the expectations were set too high.
Should the Bears let Lovie Smith go if they miss the playoffs?
Or maybe the coaching plan to target Marshall a majority of the time on offense was not such a great idea.
Some may argue that the Bears do not have a receiver that has the ability to step up and become a solid second option for Cutler to throw to.
Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Kellen Davis have been with the team for a while now and one would have hoped the coaching staff could have developed them better.
Hester's wide receiver experiment has hindered his once-explosive return game and Bennett could have been a major target for Cutler since the two have been teammates in Vanderbilt. And don't get me started on Davis. Why the team cut Greg Olsen loose instead of this man is lost in my mind.
This all falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff. Since the Bears' NFC Championship loss to Green Bay two years ago, the Bears have had great starts to their seasons only to falter at the end.
In addition to the recent struggles in the second half of the season, Smith has not been effective in one of his main goals he set when he first took the job in 2004—beat the Green Bay Packers.
The last time Chicago defeated their arch-nemesis was Sept. 27, 2010. Since then, the Bears have lost six in a row to Green Bay and eight of their last 10 in the rivalry.
Chicago has two games left this season and they are both on the road. First they go to Arizona (5-9) and then Detroit (4-10).
The Bears should win both games, but I've said the Bears should have won in their game against Seattle (23-17 overtime loss) and at Minnesota two weeks ago (28-10 loss).
If the Bears miss the playoffs for the third straight season, the biggest offseason question for Chicago will be who the new head coach will be.