Bears face personnel decisions throughout

The Bears have some difficult decisions ahead of them this offseason. Several key players, their head coach and even their general manager have come under scrutiny.

There may be no outside interest in the Bears' season finale against the Lions in Detroit. But jobs will be at stake, at least for the Bears, who have missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

Coach Lovie Smith has insisted all along that he will play the players who give the Bears the best chance to win, and that philosophy remains intact.

But it's already assumed that offensive coordinator Ron Turner and some, maybe even all, of the offensive staff will be fired. The future of Smith, who took over the defensive play-calling duties this season, appears to be hanging in the balance. A week ago, general manager Jerry Angelo declined the opportunity to give Smith a vote of confidence after a premature report that said the coach would definitely be back for the 2010 season.

"I don't know where (that) report came from," Angelo said. "It's speculation; I'm not dealing with. At the end of the year, we sit down, and we talk. I'm not going to talk about anything prematurely. It makes no sense to do that. We've never done it in the past; we're not going to do it irrelevant of how the season went."

Based on Angelo's up-and-down performance in the area of talent procurement, the decision might not be entirely his and may include input from team president and CEO Ted Phillips, chairman of the board Michael McCaskey, and his mother and team owner Virginia McCaskey.

Angelo has also indicated on more than one occasion that he believes the team's personnel is not the problem. But, if not personnel, then what, coaching? Angelo has also gone on record as saying that money will not determine his decision on Smith, who is owed $11 million over the final two years of his contract.

In the hours after Angelo's non-vote of confidence, Smith and his team did themselves no favors by getting dominated by the Ravens 31-7.

The coaching staff won't be the only thing that changes for the Bears before the next training camp. Veteran defensive end Adewale Ogunleye will be an unrestricted free agent who won't get paid by the Bears, and it's questionable whether underachieving Tommie Harris gets a $2.5 million roster bonus in June. Six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz may have punched his own ticket out of town by implying that the problem with the Bears was not Smith, but Angelo. Kreutz did not play anywhere near his Pro Bowl form this year.

TRENDING: In their five victories, the Bears have run the ball on 48 percent of their offensive plays. In their nine losses, they have run the ball on just 32 percent on their offensive snaps. Last week's loss to the Ravens was the first time since the season opener that the Bears lost a game in which they had 30 or more running plays.

LINEUP WATCH: Chris Williams started the first 11 games at right tackle, but he was drafted in the first round in 2008 to play left tackle, which is where he's been since Game 12, even though 13-year veteran Orlando Pace has recovered from the groin injury that originally allowed Williams to make the move.


  • RB Matt Forte, after 14 games, had a run of 17 yards or longer in just one game this season, Oct. 4 against the Lions.

  • QB Jay Cutler had five TD passes and 13 interceptions in his last six games heading into the Monday night game vs. the Vikings.

  • WR Devin Hester had six receptions in the five games prior to Monday night's clash with the Vikings, including the last two games that he missed with a strained calf. Hester was questionable for Monday night.

  • WR Earl Bennett had just one touchdown, but he led the Bears with 13.6 yards per catch through 15 weeks.

  • TE Greg Olsen had a total of five catches for 23 yards in the three games prior to the Week 16.

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