Monday, December 31, 2012

Firing Lovie the Tough, but Right, Move

After months of speculation, it's finally official. As news trickled in this morning that the Bears had fired Lovie Smith, I couldn't help but think of the alternatives. What if they had fired Mike Tice instead? What if previous GM Jerry Angelo had put more on the field for Lovie to work with right away? What if the Bears hadn't sustained injuries to Jay Cutler against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game in 2010, or lost Cutler and Matt Forte last year? What if Lovie had a better QB in the Super Bowl in 2007 and had pulled out a victory? This, and endless other scenarios, played over in my head because I realized that I had respect for Lovie as a man, coach, and leader. I appreciated what he had done for this franchise and started to agonize over the decision, wondering if there wasn't something that could be done. Then I realized that Bears management was doing the same thing, but at the end of the day they had to make a cold business/football decision, one that was best for the franchise. It's hard to come to terms with it, but I believe they made the right choice.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bears' Season Continues to Collapse

The more things change, the more they stay the same. After dropping a downright horrific loss to Green Bay this past Sunday, the Bears slipped out of the playoff race and now must win their final two games, with some help, to even make the playoffs. The Bears, losers of 5 of their last 6 games, are now on the verge of missing the playoffs for the 5th time in 6 seasons. Even with the shiny new toys on offense and all the promises of a high-octane offense that can produce consistently in the NFL, the Bears continue to lose games much like they have for most of the bad parts of Lovie Smith's tenure: by failing to score. The abysmal performance of the Bears' offense again against the Packers is proof positive that Smith's tenure as coach here is probably over.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Culture Taking Hold at Illinois

Wow, what a win. A great win for John Groce, for the Illinois program, for the players involved; one of those this-team-is-for-real type wins. By taking down a good Gonzaga team, in a feisty atmosphere, this early in a new season and new era, Illinois has shown that this team is here to stay. Even more than that, it shows the impact that Groce has had on this team and program after only 10 games. Would anyone have expected this team, the team that lost nine of their last ten games to end last season, to be undefeated at 10-0 and poised to enter the top 10 rankings in the country? It's a testament to the work that everyone in the program has put in, from AD Mike Thomas in hiring Groce, to Groce and his staff for their tireless work and culture change, to the players, specifically senior leaders like Brandon Paul.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Who are the Real Bears?

I know it's hard, but try to think back a month. Basketball season had just started, the weather was still relatively nice, and we still had to endure those awful political advertisements every time we turned on the TV. For the Bears, they had just finished off a 51-20 defensive domination of the Tennessee Titans to improve to 7-1, putting themselves in the driver's seat to another playoff appearance and positioning themselves as a favorite to contend for the Super Bowl. That defense, spearheaded by Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Brian Urlacher, and the rest of one of the best collective units in the NFL, was drawing comparisons to some of the better team defenses in league history and was putting to rest all of the preseason questions of age, speed, and durability.