1. It's time to start questioning the entire coaching staff's performance
Football is a game of adjustments, but after watching the Bears both offensively and defensively through eight games, head coach Lovie Smith and Co. are not making the necessary adjustments to be competitive in this league. Just because a team returns basically the same roster that went to the Super Bowl doesn't mean they'll be equally successful – offensive coordinator Ron Turner hasn't been very imaginative even with all his new weapons on offense and rookie defensive coordinator Bob Babich has been incredibly conservative lately after showing several different looks the first few ballgames. Just take a peek at the 8-0 Patriots, who never employ the same game plan twice and constantly morph their approach in order to take full advantage of their strengths and best exploit their opponent's weaknesses.
Additionally, Smith's game day decisions have been continually questioned and rightfully so – he was foolish not to kick the field goal from the Detroit 25-yard line with less than a minute to play since he needed two scores anyway, but QB Brian Griese promptly threw his fourth interception of the day trying to force the ball into the end zone one play later.
2. The safety position needs to be completely overhauled this offseason
The Bears were banking on Mike Brown to stay healthy this season despite his inability to do since 2003, plus Adam Archuleta was supposed to become a great player again after saving him from his one-year prison in our nation's capital. As it turns out, Brown ruptured his ACL in Week 1 and will finish the year on injured reserve for the third time in four seasons, and Archuleta has been a colossal disappointment not only in coverage but also in run support. Danieal Manning has been jerked around from safety to cornerback and then back to safety ever since the offseason program, and it appears that his development is being retarded as a result because he was having much more success in the early going last year when he was still a green rookie.
Not only is the Cover-2 defense dependent on consistent pressure from the front four, but it also requires tremendous play from both safeties since they have responsibility on most of the deep balls and are essential to help stop the enemy running game.
3. Wolfe deserves a shot to see what he can do to help the ground attack
RB Garrett Wolfe
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Only Pittsburgh's Willie Parker and Arizona's Edgerrin James have received more attempts this season than Cedric Benson, yet he's currently tied for 16th in rushing and is averaging a miserable 3.1 yards per carry through eight games.
4. The lack of size up front is starting to become a consistent problem
Coach Smith took the job before the 2004 season and immediately declared that he didn't want any fat guys playing defense, believing that a combination of speed and athleticism would provide takeaways hand over fist and make his fairly simple scheme work. The trouble is, once those takeaways start to disappear, teams are able to move the ball consistently on the ground because they can push around those lighter-than-usual defensive tackles and defensive ends. Tommie Harris is arguably the best in the business at his position with his ability to get penetration but doesn't offer much help defending the run if he shoots the wrong gap, and Mark Anderson is a fantastic pass-rusher but only tied for 13th on the team with 14 tackles – one fewer than reserve linebacker Jamar Williams.
Alex Brown, who Anderson replaced in the starting lineup, may not produce big sack numbers but can hold the point of attack very well, and departed run-stuffer Ian Scott may have been more important to this team than anyone realized.
5. Berrian is not a No. 1 receiver and may be more suited for a secondary role
This was supposed to be the season that Bernard Berrian overtook Muhsin Muhammad as the primary target in this passing game, eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time, and established himself as one of the truly elite receivers in the NFL. While Berrian's raw statistics have been adequate – 38 receptions for 518 yards – he's only found the end zone once, isn't producing big plays like he did in 2006, and is dropping passes at an alarming rate. It's becoming more and more obvious that he is more Alvin Harper than Michael Irvin, a speedy deep threat who can exploit one-on-one coverage down the field but not quite able to be a true go-to guy over the course of a game.
Berrian hired Drew Rosenhaus to be his agent and reportedly wants $8 million a year once he hits free agency at season's end, but the tight end combination of Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen is what's making this aerial attack work right now while Berrian looks quite replaceable.
John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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