Lovie's Message to Team: "Remember this Feeling"

CHICAGO _ The good side of the Bears' 5-11 finish after Sunday's 31-14 loss to Green Bay is they own the fourth pick in the NFL draft April 23-24. <P> The bad side is they never lived up to what coach Lovie Smith expected his first season.

"When you're 5-11, my first year is a disappointing season for me," Smith said. "When we initially got here we talked about three goals: Beating Green Bay, winning the division and winning a world championship. So those are the goals that you've set. Well, I look at the season a little bit based on that.

"We didn't win the division. We were able to beat Green Bay one time, but we weren't able to win the division. And that's the goal to win the division and to get into the playoffs. My first year isn't good enough as far as I'm concerned. I'm anxious to do something about it next year."

Smith's address to players in the locker room immediately after the game carried the theme that next year they won't have to worry about drafting so early.

"Remember this moment; next year it's going to be a different story,' " quarterback Chad Hutchinson said in describing Smith's words to the team. " "Remember this feeling because this isn't going to happen again."

The Bears' defense finished on a down note after improving statistically throughout the season's second half.

They came into the game 12th against the pass, but gave up 327 net passing yards, their highest total since the season's third week.

The play that irked defensive coordinator Ron Rivera most and one he said turned the tide of the game occurred in the first quarter on Green Bay's drive to the tying touchdown.

Ahman Green turned a third-and-17 screen pass into a 23-yard gain and the Packers scored four plays later.

"We get a third-and-17 situation, they're backed up, one thing they don't like to do is take chances," Rivera said. "And a safe play is a screen. I thought we were in a pretty good position to make a play. We just didn't play with vision and we didn't make the play when we had a chance. You make a play, stop them and they punt, it's still 7-0.

"So to me that was a little bit of a back breaker."

Tight end Desmond Clark has avoided talking to the media since early in the season, but surfaced after Sunday's game saying he's ready to take on all competition for his position next year.

Clark made three catches Sunday for 20 yards. He finished with 24 catches for 282 yards and a TD, fourth on the team in yards and catches.

"I welcome competition," Clark said. "If you ask me, I feel that I'm one of the top tight ends in the league. That's just what I believe."

Clark went beyond that, saying, ``But me personally, I think I'm one of the top tight ends in the league, no questions, hands down.

"You match me up against any tight end in the league and I think I can fare well with them."

The Bears have the fourth pick in the draft because their opponents had the weakest winning percentage of the league's 5-11 teams.

Their opponents had a .464 winning percentage. Tampa Bay, which drafts fifth, had a schedule with opponents who had a .477 winning percentage.

Last time the Bears drafted fourth was 2003. They traded away the pick for the 13th and 22nd picks and eventually wound up with defensive end Michael Haynes and quarterback Rex Grossman.

Chad Hutchinson finished the season with a 73.6 passer rating after his 73.1 passer rating Sunday. His completion mark Sunday was impressive (20-of-29) but the Bears averaged only 3.6 yards a completion.

Smith gave no thought to bringing in backup quarterback Jeff George.

"We thought Chad gave us the best chance to win," he said.

Planning Ahead
The Bears also know their opponents for the 2005 season.

Home: Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Francisco.

Away: Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington.

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