Lovie, Bears are underachieving

It seems like just yesterday that the Chicago Bears got Jay Cutler and seemed poised to make a playoff run. It is now week 14 in the NFL and the Bears are 5-8, third in the NFC North because the dreadful Lions are still in their division. Cutler has not even been close to what Bears fans expected when they traded Kyle Orton and first round draft picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts. Instead, the Bears got a gunslinger who has a laser arm, but takes too many chances with the football. This is why Cutler leads the NFL with 22 interceptions.

After the Bears beat the Steelers in week two for the first win and won the next two games, it appeared as if the Bears were in good shape. Then they went on to lose seven of their next nine games. They lost big (45-10 to the Bengals and 41-21 to the Cardinals), they lost close (21-14 to the Falcons and 10-6 to the 49ers), and they lost to their division rivals in the Packers and Vikings. The two wins during this span came against teams just as bad or worse as the Lions: Rams (1-12) and Browns (2-11).

When a team is struggling and has as much talent as the Bears do, the head coach is always going to be on the hot seat. For the Bears, that coach is Lovie Smith. After this stretch of poor plays by the Bears, fans have begun calling for his job.

Like all head coaches, he has had his share of ups and downs. In 2006, he led the Bears to their first Super Bowl since they won it in 1985. After that, it has not been so pleasant for Smith and the Bears. They finished 7-9 and 9-7 since the Super Bowl lost to the Colts, though they were expected to do a lot better with the dominant defense they had. After another year in which they underachieved, there is a good chance that Smith will not be back for another year.

Since Jay Cutler was the big signing during the offseason, most of the blame has been centered towards him for the Bears. Though he has not played well, the defense is also a big reason why the Bears are just 5-8. No longer the menacing defense that they were in the past, the Bears have been hurting since the loss of Brian Urlacher for the year. Three times this year Chicago has given up over 35 points and they have given up 291 points already this year. Consider the dominant defense the Bears had during their Super bowl year when they allowed 209 points the entire season.

The Bears have tried to change their identity as a team this year. Rather than rely on running and defense as they had in the past, they put their squad in the hands of a gun-slinger-Jay Cutler. This has not worked well at all and maybe next year they will go back to their past identity.