Football is all about team building and as training camp goes, there’s no better time to build your team to be the best it can during this time of the year.
As the cliché goes, championship teams are built in July and August and that’s essentially where the Bears find themselves right now. In need of putting together a team that can compete for a Super Bowl, and at the very least make a deep run into the playoffs.
What is NOT a football cliché though is a rule that has been ingrained in the minds of football players from the day the step onto the gridiron. No individual player(s) are above the team and we’re all in this together with the same work ethic and desire to reach the ultimate championship goal.
Every player will work together as team, we’ll all put in the same amount of time effort and most importantly practice to become fundamentally sound and as close to perfect as possible in our execution and it no one will give less than 110-percent.
If someone gives less than their full effort then there will be consequences and coaches will work with that player to hold them accountable and to make sure that they are not individually special or ABOVE the team.
Unless of course you play under the Chicago Bears and Lovie Smith this isn’t the case because every so often you’ll be allowed a veteran’s day off and you won’t have to practice with the rest of the team.
In fact you’re so special that you get to sit on the sidelines even if you’re not injured and watch everyone the rest of your teammates bust their butts in the first full contact pads practice of the season.
This is what Lovie Smith has done consistently in the past and what he did again last night with Olin Kreutz and Brian Urlacher. Both Kreutz and Urlacher to be fair are coming back from injuries, Urlacher his wrist surgery and Kreutz his heel surgery. Neither player however is in danger of being cut or for that matter being asked to do too much.
Other teams in the NFL, they take a different approach, you will come to camp in shape, you will come to camp ready to play or you will be demoted or not allowed to practice AT ALL.
We’re seeing this currently in Washington where Mike Shannahan is essentially punishing Albert Haynesworth arguably his best defensive player for the distraction he became during the off-season. Even though Haynesworth has come in 30-pounds under weight, Shannahan is putting him through hell with the Redskins’ conditioning test, a test he may not pass or may take a very LOOOONG time to pass. Shannahan is sending a clear message, you are not above the team, you are not any more special than any other player on this team and you will not practice until you abide by my demands.
This is how you build a winning team, this is how you send a message that you are in charge and that your demands will be met.
Lovie Smith CLEARLY doesn’t get this point, not in the slightest.
Brian Urlacher and Olin Kreutz have paid their dues, don’t get me wrong they are both arguably hall of fame caliber players.
Problem is even hall of fame caliber players should still be forced to earn their starting jobs every year, especially in the twilight of their careers.
That approach is the typical approach just about every successful NFL coach takes and how they run their team.
This is the same lack of urgency in his approach that Lovie Smith has shown throughout his entire coaching career here in Chicago. Smith should be desperate to win and should be willing to do ANYTHING necessary to win and he should be sending a message that Urlacher and Kreutz’s jobs are just as up for grabs as anyone else’s on the team.
This will only motivate the two old men and in turn make them better players and put them in a better position to lead.
What type of message does it send to the rest of the team that these two are so special that they can have a day off and watch from the sidelines.
Additionally Urlacher and Kreutz are even better off on the field because they should be leading by example but with their veteran experience they should be serving as additional coaches on the field. Motivating their team mates, mentoring them in the huddle and giving them the sense that it may be hard as hell now, but the little things that we grind on now will pay off from November to hopefully February.
Instead a team in desperate need of motivation is being unmotivated by one of the worst individual motivators in the history of the franchise.
Time and time again fans and media have talked about the Bears’ lack of spark about the lack of motivation or how in some instances these players have seemingly quit and given up.
I find it hard to believe that there’s not a correlation between the way this team quits and the lack of motivation the head coach instills in his men.
I don’t think it could be made anymore crystal clear that it’s okay not to give your full effort because NO ONE will hold your accountable, no will demand you give your all to succeed for the team. We know this because the head coach will not ask this of his super star veteran players he instead prefers to cater to them and allow their status to set the tone for not only the season, but for the entire motivation of the franchise.
This is ultimately what will define Lovie Smith’s tenure in Chicago, a lack of motivation, a lack of desire, a lack of responsibility all which have led to an absolute failure during his tenure in Chicago.