Lovie Smith has finally decided to man up and take the reigns of "his" defense. The Chicago Bears defense last season was worse than their ranking. In fact, it was downright pitiful at times. Such as...
Week 3...The 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which the Bears D gave up the finals 10 points in the last 3:11 seconds of regulation and then lost the game in overtime.
Also note that Brian Griese, yes THAT Brian Griese, was not sacked the whole game despite dropping back to pass 67 times.
Week 6...The 22-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in which the Bears were leading with 11 seconds left, and defensive coordinator Bob Babich keeps with the Lovie philosophy of a soft Cover-2. The defense gives up a long pass play to set up the winning field goal. The Falcons were also 9-16 on third downs, including six conversions of eight yards or longer.
Week 7...The 48-41 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Sure, the Bears forced four turnovers, but they still gave up 41 points and 439 yards. Not exactly the vaunted defense we all were expecting. If it wasn't for some decent offensive play and exceptional special teams work, this would have been ugly.
Week 10...The 21-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The rush defense was superb, but they allowed Kerry Collins to go 31-for-40 for 289 yards and 2 TDs. Kerry Collins had not had a two-touchdown game in more than a year and a half. I mean, he is Kerry Freaking Collins. I think he is due to start collecting social security soon.
Week 11... a 37-3 pounding by the hated Packers. Offense was just as bad as the defense that game. 30 points, 427 total yards given up, no sacks recorded, no turnovers forced. Ugly game all around.
Week 13...34-13 loss to the Vikes. There isn't much to say about this game other than a blown coverage that turned into a 99-yard touchdown pass to BERNARD BERRIAN! (Also gave up 131 yards to A.P. and allowed 17 second quarter points. So the D can't blame the offense for forcing them to be out there too much since its only the second quarter.)
Week 17...31-24 loss to the Texans. Allowed the Texans to score 21 straight points during the second and third quarters. Gave up 148 receiving yards to Andre Johnson (seriously, you knew who they were going to throw the ball to and he still gets 148 yards?), and Matt Schaub went 27-for-36 for 328 yards and 2 TDs. Not to mention, you win that game and you are playoff-bound. Talk about not stepping up in crunch time.
Statistically, our defense from the beginning of the season to the end made quarterbacks look like All-Pros. Kerry Collins, Gus Frerotte, Matt Ryan, Brian Griese, Jake Delhomme, Matt Schaub. Heck even Dan Orlovsky threw for 292 yards in one game against us. The Lions went 0-16!
The overall point is that the defense was terrible. And after the season ended, Lovie announced he would be taking a more active role in calling defensive schemes. Which basically means, he gets to control his defense but doesn't have to fire his good buddy, Bob Babich.
The only good thing about this move is that either the defense improves, or Lovie gets canned. And if Lovie gets fired, then Babich goes too (and hopefully offensive "guru" Ron Turner).
Is it ironic that once Ron Rivera left, our defense took a noticeable turn for the worse? I realize that Lovie and him butted heads, but could that have been what Lovie needed for this defense to succeed?
Or does Lovie actually know what he is doing? I think no, but time will tell as the season progresses.
Bear down, Lovie. If this team fails to make the playoffs, or your defense plays as bad as it did last season, you will be run out of town faster than you can say "Cover-2".