Sunday School: What We Learned

The Chicago Bears appear to be in big trouble on both sides of the ball, as the offense has slowed down and the defense can't slow anybody down. Time for desperation yet? Here are five things we learned about the Midway Monsters after a 37-3 humiliation to the hated Packers on Sunday.

1. Orton was still the choice under center even if he was a little gimpy
It was obvious that Kyle Orton was playing at less than 100 percent Sunday, but the outcome of the game wouldn't have been any different had Rex Grossman been given the assignment. Much has been made by the revisionist history-types that Grossman sported a 3-0 record in his career at Lambeau Field, although they fail to mention that he was backed by a top-notch defense. While Orton ultimately had a very Grossman-like day based on his poor completion percentage and having an unforced fumble returned for a touchdown, quarterbacks must play through injuries in order to become great in this league.

Even if Orton – or Grossman, for that matter – had thrown for 250 yards and a pair of scores in Week 11, the Packers still would have won comfortably in all likelihood based on how bad the Chicago D performed.


DT Anthony Adams
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2. It's time for a change along the defensive line
Head coach Lovie Smith swears there's nothing wrong with his Cover-2 scheme and that the Bears simply have to get better production from their players, so perhaps the time has come to give some fresh faces a chance to do their thing in the trenches. Both Israel Idonije and rookie Marcus Harrison have played well in spurts this season, but neither of them has been much of a factor the last few ballgames. Activating Anthony Adams might help correct some of the gap-control problems this team had defending the run against Green Bay, while Matt Toeaina's presence could be a much-needed shot in the arm for a dormant pass rush.

Adams played great taking over the for the bust that was Darwin Walker last year and Toeaina made some plays in the backfield after being signed off the Cincinnati practice squad, so it's mysterious why they've both been left out in the cold this season.

3. Hester needs to focus on one or the other for the rest of 2008
If you would have told Bears fans before the start of the season that opponents would be going out of their way to kick to Devin Hester, you might have been fitted for a straightjacket very quickly. But that's turned out to be the case, as the All-Pro return man has been completely ineffective on both punts and kickoffs and hasn't gotten anywhere near the end zone all year long. While the former cornerback has made strides as a wide receiver and appears to be a viable option at that position going forward, he apparently can't handle double duties and is hurting his team in the process.

Hester should either be removed from the return game entirely so he can focus on catching passes, or he needs to be dropped from the receiver rotation and go back to what he did better than anybody on the planet for his first two years in the league – whichever lane is chosen, this team will be better off for now.


DE Mark Anderson
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

4. Babich is starting to feel the heat on defense
Normally a golly-gee-whiz type of talker when dealing with the media, defensive coordinator Bob Babich let his frustration get the better of him – if only for a minute or so – in the Lambeau Field locker room after Sunday's embarrassing effort. Not only did the Packers run all over Chicago's up-until-then sturdy rushing defense, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw in the pocket and put up yet another triple-digit passer rating against what has turned out to be a Swiss-cheese secondary. Babich was happy with the week of practice leading up to Week 11 and didn't have any immediate answers for his unit's awful play, but he did take responsibility and promised that problems will be corrected.

It was debated whether or not Babich was qualified to get the promotion from linebackers coach to D-coordinator before 2007, so he could be made the scapegoat in the offseason should this team miss the playoffs.

5. Chicago has the inside track on the NFC North despite the meltdown
It's easy to play Chicken Little after a 37-3 drubbing at the hands of a division rival, but the fact remains that the 5-5 Bears have an easier schedule than either the 5-5 Packers or the 5-5 Vikings the rest of the way. None of their final six games features an opponent with a winning record, and three straight December home games – including a rematch against Green Bay after taking on a pair of disappointments, Jacksonville and New Orleans – gives them the opportunity to make a run down the stretch. Houston, which hosts Chicago in the finale, has already lost seven games and won't have anything to play for except Texas pride.

The Packers still have to face the 8-2 Panthers at Lambeau Field, while the Vikings close out the schedule with three toughies: at 7-3 Arizona before home dates with the 6-4 Falcons and 9-1 Giants.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report 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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