Pyle Ponders: Where Do the Bears Go Now?

Some teams play better than others in bad weather. Some teams are simply coached better than others. After the loss at Pittsburgh, we have a much clearer idea where the Bears stand in the overall scheme of things in the National Football League.

For the first time this season the Bears were dominated by their opponent physically and the first time they have played in conditions like that. Normally, you'd expect some changes in game plan taking those factors into consideration. And the Bears did make some changes, but the results were disappointing.

The defense didn't play well. They were simply outplayed in every quarter. The offense couldn't hold on to the ball. Overall, the Steelers had more ten minutes advantage in time of possession. Pittsburgh was successful in what you must do in any bad weather game, run the ball.

The offense of any team has a distinct advantage when you're playing in difficult conditions? Why? Because they know in advance where they will be going on the field. The defense on the other hand, must make constant adjustments to counter the offense's moves.

The Steelers ended up with 21 points. Actually that's not bad considering the length of time they had the ball. The score could have been much worse so in that sense, we should give the Bears defense some credit.

In speaking after the game, Bears linemen mentioned repeatedly that the slippery footing caused problems with their mobility. Buy the same situation faced the Steelers linemen. That's why I put the Bears lack of success to coaching more than to the weather conditions.

The game plan had to be adjusted to compensate for the deteriorating field conditions had to be altered and it was clear that Lovie Smith hadn't done that. But some of the things I saw out there made no sense. An example: the screen pass by Kyle Orton to Adrian Peterson when Pittsburgh's defense was in the perfect position to stop it.

Orton had two or three great passes, which, if the coaches are paying attention, will open up a whole new aspect to the offensive options. He had 17 completions in 35 passes. Bernard Berrian had that great catch for 43 yards. Desmond Clark's reception got the Bears 27 yards. Muhsin Muhammad had an 11-yard average while Thomas Jones got 4 catches for an average of 5.8 yards. That's not great, but it gives you something to work with.

One problem with Orton I noticed was in his pump fake. That's usually a productive play if done correctly. Orton fakes, then has a noticeable hesitation before throwing. That gives the defense plenty of time to catch up on the play if the pump fake works.

Another problem: He's inaccurate which means that somebody needs to be spending a lot more time working with him. The ball tends to go up in the fourth row almost as often as it lands in a receiver's hands. Or conversely, Orton waits and waits until he sees Muhammad open and again by the time the ball gets there, the opponent's secondary is in position.

Wade Wilson, the quarterbacks coach, has had considerable time in the NFL and he certainly should be able to work with Orton. The potential is there, but Orton should be further along the learning curve by now. He's played the entire season so far and we're not seeing marked improvement with each week. Why? Again, the coaching is the problem. The Bears need to take advantage of Orton's abilities while minimizing his inexperience.

Lovie once more showed that he is a strictly by the book sort of a coach. There's just no creativity when the Bears need that type of play calling. Ron Turner isn't any better in that respect. Some of his calls didn't put the players in the best position to succeed.

Some teams just seem to play more smoothly than others. Just watch the Patriots or the Colts and you'll understand. On the other hand, you have teams such as the Bears, Detroit and Green Bay.

The Sunday night between Green Bay and Detroit was painful. Neither side had good coaching, although I wasn't entirely surprising. After all, the Lions have former Bears staffers Dick Jauron and his buddy Greg Olson. The game was so bad that when it came time for overtime, it took the ref a full five minutes to find a coin for the toss.

So the bottom line for the Bears this past week is threefold: poor coaching; poor quarterback executions; overall inconsistency. Things can be turned around but the effort has to start at the top. The last loss was followed by eight straight wins, but how the team will respond this time remains to be seen.

Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69, including a Pro Bowl selection following the '63 season.

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