Even though the Chicago Bears conquered the Lions on Sunday, the Vikings charged past the Packers and eliminated the Bears as playoff hopefuls.
The Bears struggled the second half of the season. They went into a backslide after their return from the bye, and they didn’t recover. It didn’t help when the defense lost Urlacher to injury; it took two weeks for them to get back into a groove. The offensive line showed improvement, but they didn’t follow through on execution. The result is a “Groundhog Day” season ending that needs to change.
Relying on a scoring defense to win is a dangerous strategy; it didn’t work. This isn’t to minimize the Bears ball-stripping ability. The Bears are among the best in the league in defensive scoring. Both sides of the line need to be working in sync.
The Bears have the talent to be a contending team. Whatever the next step is to get them to the next level of performance, it’s time to move forward. Phil Emery fired Lovie Smith as Chicago Bears head coach Monday. Probably not much of a surprise to most, and even considered overdue by others. Smith will still be missed — nine years with the Bears is a long time, he built a strong relationship with his team and he’s respected as a coach.
Of course there will be two sides tearing apart the other in the battle of right and wrong here, but it doesn’t change that the Bears will be led by a new coach this spring. There are some matters that will require some immediate attention, like Urlacher’s contract and whether or not he will ask for an extension, the Bears focus in the draft and what’s next for 2013.
Could be a long cold winter in Chicago.