Questionable Calls

Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop's conservative play calling during the course of the season has irked many Chicago Bears fans.

After the departure of former Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton at the end of the 2000 season, fans demanded a new coordinator that didn't use the wide receiver screen as much and went back to the running game. After a short stint at the end of the 2000 season as an interim offensive coordinator, John Shoop was awarded the fulltime job before the beginning of the 2001 season.

Shoop's offense took off at the beginning of the 2001 season, and it coined the name the "run and Shoop" offense, a spin off of the famous "run and shoot" offense. While the Bears offense seemed lackluster during a large portion of last year, fans seemed content as the Bears continued their winning with good defense and timely scoring. Last year fans took to Shoop, as long as the team was winning, but after a rough start in the 2002 season, the finger now points straight in the direction of Shoop.

Since their recent losing streak, fans have been placing the blame and criticizing Shoop's play calling during the course of the game. Last year, the Bears defense at times carried the team, as the offense struggled to put touchdowns on the board. This year, the Bears defense has suffered serious injuries to four of its starters, thus placing added strain on the offense to hold up its end of the bargain.

In the Bears most recent game against Buffalo, they suffered a disappointing 33-27 overtime loss. During the first quarter, starting outside linebacker Warrick Holdman went out with a knee injury, later determined to be season ending. As a result of his injury along with an already depleted defense, the Bears allowed 33 points against Buffalo's powerful offense.

The onus was upon Shoop and the offense to match Buffalo, but questionable play-calling and a conservative nature led to just 20 points scored on offense, converting on just six of fourteen crucial third downs, and punting six times. Shoop's offensive play calling at times seems reminiscent of former coordinator Gary Crowton, calling ineffective wide receiver screens and plays where the wide receiver runs his route short of the first down marker.

Since then, radio shows and Internet discussion is highlighted with Bears fans frustration over the inept offense. Winning is the cure for all ills, and Monday night will be no exception as the Bears face off against old-time foe the Green Bay Packers. Shoop and the offense will really be under the microscope, as they will attempt to match Green Bay's explosive offensive.


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