Pyle Ponders

The more things change the more they stay the same. A year ago the offensive coordinator was to blame for much of the problems and as we come to the end of another season the same can be said.

Last year at this time, GM Jerry Angelo told us that had had a plan. Well, we're still waiting. Looks as if some of the bright ideas you had then didn't pan out too well. The Bears are once more ineffective offensively and the coordinator is still the person who deserves most of the blame.

Any other team in the national Football League would have plans well underway to replace Terry Shea. But we have to remind ourselves that we're dealing with the Bears. Anything is possible. According to Shea's own grading scale, he might be perceived by the management at Halas Hall as doing just fine. I don't happen to agree with that particular assessment, however.

The performance against the Lions was yet another in a string of discouraging efforts by the offense. Granted, it's a young team and in that situation there will always be mistakes made, but this is much more far-reaching. 60 total yards for the Bears in the first half? That's not professional football.

I checked back to the stats and found that of all the Bears starters, only five have been played in every game. That's why there hasn't been any consistency. Add to that the quarterback problems and you have the ingredients for disaster. And that's the good news.

The bad news: Even when everything seems to be going pretty well for the Bears, things don't turn out successfully. That's where the lack of coaching comes into play.

What happened against the Lions? A complete catastrophe. The only players who didn't seem to understand what Chicago's offense was going to do were the players. Detroit certainly wasn't mystified.

But why? That's what I can't figure out. In Kansas City Shea seemed competent enough. The Bears management certainly thought as much. Lovie Smith seemed to be pleased that Shea was joining the Bears staff and he still goes out of his way to support Shea publicly.

Yet over and over again what we see before us in incompetent play calling. There were short passes that were telegraphed well in advance, ineffective runs, and poor clock management.

While the Bears got the running game going during the second half, that is exactly what Detroit wanted to see at that point in the game. They were up by 16 and were probably laughing on the sidelines that Chicago decided to do a series that would help play out the clock. It's a simple matter of smart strategy. When you need to play catch up, you don't bring out the running game and you don't send your rusher to the strongest point of the defensive line.

The screen passes? A kindergartner could have read those. As I watched on television I could see all of the Detroit secondary looking exactly where Chad Hutchinson was going to throw. I'll bet that every fan in the stands noticed exactly the same thing. And these passes, even when they worked, often went for little or no positive yardage.

What about the tight ends? Desmond Clark and Dustin Lyman simply can't block. My grandmother could do a better job then they're doing right now. The Bears must find somebody who can fill this position effectively. Put that on the long list of things that need to be fixed for next year.

The defense played pretty well as usual. They were a little flat during the first half when the Lions got most of their yardage, but straightened things out in the second half. Kevin Jones seemed to be able to move through the Bears line with relative ease early on, then the Bears contained him more effectively later.

Bottom line: You just can't put your defense in the position game after game where they are the ones expected to score. Lance Briggs' interception that he ran back for the 6 points was the first Chicago TD is 12 quarters. That's ridiculous. They are doing well but need some help from the offense every now and then. The players would never admit this but I'm certain that they find it pretty hard to get passionate in these games where the entire burden for the team's success is put on their side of the ball.

The blown call: If George Halas were still around, he'd have been running up and down that sideline foaming at the mouth. And you'd be sure that particular ref would have been left sticking head first in the turf. As it is, the founder of this team is undoubtedly spinning in his grave. There's no excuse for such poor refereeing. Even if that score wouldn't have guaranteed a Bears victory, the TD was vitally important for Chicago.

So where does this leave us? At the end of a long season, with Green Bay as the lone game left on the schedule. And it might surprise you to hear that I'm picking the Bears to win this one. They'll be playing for pride and the Packers have nothing to lose. Brett Favre will probably be lounging on his bench sipping iced tea after a quarter. This season hasn't been much fun for Bears fans. Before we throw in the towel and think ahead to next season, lets hope this next game ends on a positive note.

Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69


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