For those of you paying attention whether on this site or on my weekly podcast at 87sportsfans.com, you may remember a little prediction I made about the Chicago Bears going 15-1 and winning the NFC Championship.
Open mouth, insert foot.
Where could I have gone so wrong? How could I have been so blind to the many aspects of football that this team manages to find so difficult?
I made my prediction based on the following beliefs: First, Jay Cutler would not only solve the offense's problems, but make the Chicago Bears a potent offensive team.
Second, that defensive line issues from the past would be long forgotten with the presence of a healthy Tommie Harris and the addition of Rod Marinelli as Defensive Line Coach.
Third, the addition of Orlando Pace and the movement of 2008 first round pick Chris Williams to Right Tackle would solidify what had been previously an unserviceable offensive line.
Fourth, that the defensive secondary would be vastly improved with a healthy Nathan Vasher and Zachary Bowman who started to impress in 2008 before he was hurt.
Turns out I was wrong on all four principles, and losing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher didn't exactly help.
Let's dissect one by one, shall we?
1.) The addition of Jay Cutler: When General Manager Jerry Angelo made the move of the century (all nine years of it) and traded for quarterback Jay Cutler, it seemed that a key aspect of the offense that had underwhelmed in the past had finally been addressed and corrected.
It was assumed by this observer that defenses would have to respect Cutler's arm and play making ability and thus would allow RB Matt Forte to run free.
Then came Week 1 in Green Bay when Cutler repeatedly couldn't find his own receivers and the red flags went up. Now, teams not only don't fear Cutler, they don't respect him anymore, which allows them to creep and make running the ball a lot harder.
More about that later.
2.) Defensive Line play: Outside of Cutler and Pace, the much ballyhooed decision to bring in Rod Marinelli to coach the defensive line after his historically bad tenure as head coach in Detroit was expected to be a great fit.
Marinelli, after all, only got the gig in Detroit by leading one of the NFL's best defensive lines in Tampa Bay. One would think he would be able to translate that effectiveness to a Chicago team that went to Super Bowl just three seasons ago? Right?
Wrong. Not only has there been no change to a previously non-existent pass rush, Tommie Harris decided to show up only this past week in San Francisco trying to exorcise the ghosts of getting ejected in the first quarter the previous week.
No pass rush from your front four means you make yourself vulnerable in the secondary, and every game against a passer with a strong arm has proved to be a struggle. Even Matthew Stafford and Detroit had a decent first half against them.
And next week, Donovan McNabb will be on the other side of the field.
What Marinelli has done has marginalized the impact of position coaches and really directed the spotlight at the absolute blind eye for talent Angelo has.
Green Bay has allowed the most sacks this season to date than any other season in the past nine years. And the Bears STILL couldn't sack Aaron Rodgers.
3.) Offensive Line play: Orlando Pace joining a line that allowed Matt Forte to have a decent rookie season would give any football observer hope that things could only get better.
Wrong. This has to be the worst Bears line in the last 10 years. Olin Kreutz is nowhere near his once Pro Bowl caliber play. Guards Roberto Garza, Frank Omiyale, and Josh Beekman have shown no ability to provide holes for Forte to run through.
Of course, this only makes life for Cutler worse and magnifies the fact that there is no accomplished receiver to provide support.
If you build teams from the lines out, the Bears are in a full blown rebuilding stage.
4.) Defensive secondary play: Tackling has never been high on the priority list of any Bears defensive backs under Smith, but this season exceptionally worse.
Watching the Cardinals Beanie Wells get into the secondary and have Danieal Manning (a safety) come up and try to tackle him high and allow 6-10 more yards while he tries to tackle, strip, wear down, ride, etc. just makes me cry.
The coverage calls are mostly soft, which coupled with a lack of pass rush, allows most NFL quarterbacks to pick them apart. Inexperienced and inconsistent play at the safety position also have caused this unit to create problems.
All in all, the 2009 Chicago Bears are a debacle. The current recipe is not providing any results and the men currently at the helm have proved incompetent.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...somebody better be fired.