Learning from History

Perhaps having learned a lesson from predecessor Dick Jauron's refusal to replace his offensive coordinator, John Shoop, and how it ultimately cost him his job, Bears coach Lovie Smith fired offensive coordinator Terry Shea after just one failed season.

Smith has probably used up his honeymoon time. Although he helped defensive coordinator Ron Rivera put together a defense that could be a major force for years to come, the bottom line of 5-11 is two games worse than Jauron's final season in Chicago. Smith complained about and regretted the fact that the Bears didn't emphasize the run enough, but he apparently did nothing to change the situation until he fired Shea -- after the season ended.

The Bears offense scored the fewest points in the league, an average of just 14.4 per game. It also was dead last in total yards, passing yards, average gain per pass play, first downs, sacks allowed and third-down efficiency.

The Bears had the NFL's worst offense in 2004, and, injuries notwithstanding, Shea's play-calling and his system bore the brunt of the blame.

Shea came aboard promising -- some thought arrogantly -- to show Chicago fans what a down-the-field passing attack would be like. Shea's problem was that he never established a valid running game that would keep pass rushers from descending upon the four starting quarterbacks he was forced to employ because of injuries and ineptitude.

"The next step is to get another guy in here and go from there," Smith said. "It's not a happy day when you're dealing with a good man and a good coach like Terry is. But some things have to be done."

While critics lambasted Shoop for his doggedness in sticking too long with running game, they chastised Shea for failing to run the ball frequently enough. With two games remaining in the season, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo lamented the team's inability to run.

"We have to be able to run the ball," Angelo said. "That was a big disappointment. We have to be a running football team. It was disappointing and frustrating that we weren't able to do that, and that has to change. We've said all along we want to be a running football team. I don't know why we got away from that. Maybe it was just a snowball affect that when things started to go wrong, everything went wrong, but we have to do a better job of that."

The Bears ran the ball 20 times or less four times and lost all four of those games. They ran more than 30 times just once in the final seven games, six of which were losses.

Ten offensive linemen started at least one game, and seven different alignments were used up front, while the Bears were allowing a franchise-worst 66 sacks.

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