Monday, November 30, 2009

Bears Should Fire Lovie

I know this may shock some people, but that is the only conclusion one can come to given another drubbing where the team could make no real adjustments. This season has been an utter disappointment and it follows on the last two years of disappointing .500 ball.

I certainly don't think it is all on the head coach. Just like the last two years, the offensive and defensive lines have been mauled by opponents and it has killed them. However, you still have to play and scheme. The Bears make the same mistakes week in and week out. The defensive tackles and defensive ends are not disciplined with their gap and contain responsibilities. The linebackers don't drop into their zones. The secondary plays too loose on third and long plays and they get whipped on D.

On offense, their O-line is a disaster. Pace is far past his prime. Their LG has been a problem all year. Chris Williams has been disappointing playing out of position at RT and their two holdovers from last year - Kreutz and Garza - are consistently outplayed. It all starts from there - the Bears cannot mount a running game or allow enough pass protection to effectively use Forte and Cutler. I think Cutler still makes too many bad decisions and the receivers are inexperienced and make some mistakes, but those can be overcome with a better O-line.

Lovie is the D-coordinator and he hasn't held the offensive coaches responsible in any discernable way for the way the O is playing. Three years out of the playoffs is enough. I didn't think Lovie needed to go just a few weeks back, but it is pretty clear that the team is not playing for him anymore. At that point, you need to think about change.

UVA Fires Al Groh

No surprise here. Groh just didn't get it done this year. Part of it was talent, part of it was just not coming up with the right schemes. The attempt to switch his offense to a spread offense in one year was a disaster and they ended up reverting back to their impotent offensive scheme after their poor early start.

I don't think players were surprised, nor do I even think they are crushed by the firing. I'd like to see UVA find a credible college football coach - I don't need an NFL assistant. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Economy and Politics

Things seem to be going largely as I would expect with the economy. We are seeing nice growth in the markets, GDP is rising, and there are plenty of signals that things like the housing market and job market are starting to turn. Both of the latter are obviously tied to one another and as I have said many many times employment is a lagging economic indicator.

The major piece of legislation that needs to get done is health care reform. The current system is putting a major drag on economic activity in this country. We spend 17 percent of GDP on health care - far higher than any other country. It is expensive and costs to the insured are rising by double digits every year. So it is unsustainable over the long term the way it is now. On top of that, if you lose health insurance it is very difficult and even more expensive to get it again. There are would-be entrepreneurs that don't start businesses because they are concerned about losing health insurance - that is a crazy fact that is depressing economic growth.

The worst part about the ongoing debate in Washington is that big special interest money is successfully muddying the debate. Look, any reform is going to be complicated, but throwing out mistruths and purposefully deceiving folks makes reform even more difficult to achieve. Then you have the RepubliCANTs openly saying they just won't vote for any type of reform. The end result is a political mess.

The Dems are on the right side of history. The question is whether they will pull it together and pass legislation that reforms the system this year. I still believe we will end up with reform and that it will include a strong public option. If the Dems cannot pull it together, it will be a major loss for the American people, but rather than being punished in the mid-terms, the Dems can easily make gains if they hammer the RepubliCANTs for blocking reform. It will be an easy sell to say that it is RepubliCANT opposition that killed health care. I know this, people want health care and this is an increasing number. The choice will be put more Dems in place and get health care, or vote Dems out and go with the status quo.

Oh My Bears!

I was disappointed after the Thursday night debacle and then I was busy the last couple of days so I didn't write anything. I'm not going to bother rehashing that last game. I think it is better to just look ahead.

At 4-5 and having lost 4 of their last 5, the amazing thing is the Bears are in the thick of the hunt - everyone else seems to be losing also.

Yet again this weekend the Bears end up on prime time on Sunday night. Huge game against the Eagles. If the Bears win they will be 5-5 and in the hunt. If they lose, they will be at least 2 games out of the Wild Card race (right now they are only 1 game back) with 6 to go. That will be a lot to make up. A loss would also complicate matters because they would lose the head-to-head tiebreakers against SF, Philly, and Atlanta. So, things would be really really tough.

I expect Cutler to stop throwing interceptions. I expect the Bears to stay more committed to the running game and I expect the D to continue to play well. If they do these things over the rest of the season they will be fine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Couple of Bears Notes

Bears play the 49ers tonight - cannot wait for that.

As is the case in many cities, the Bears HC is under fire and fans are calling for his head. Supposedly the team is rallying behind Lovie. We'll see tonight.

That said, I am so sick and tired of how quickly fans jump on and off the bandwagon. Lovie has to do a better job, but let's just wait and see what happens. The Bears are 4-4 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. Firing him mid-season would only tank the season. People want Holmgren and Shannahan - but they don't even know their records because if they did I don't see how they could actually see them as an upgrade.

I expect the Bears to play much better D and to get their running game going to go along with the very potent passing attack. I'm concerned about the D and how their D-line peforms, but I expect improvement. We'll know early if the Bears are going to be OK. They will have proper gap control on the D-line and keep Gore under control. If he is gashing them for 5-8 yards per carry, it could end up another long night.

One last thing - what is up with Sammy Sosa?

Hannity/Faux News B.S.

Jon Stewart caught Faux/Hannity at it again - doctoring up video to promote Republicans. This is why it is impossible to respect Faux as a "news" channel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bears Can Still Be Fine

I like this quote from David Haugh's piece in the Trib today:

"The Bears are 4-4, not 1-7. They aren't the Lions and need to stop acting like them. They need to win some games to win back some respect."

Look, there is no question that the lopsided losses in two of the last three weeks have been disasterous. Cincy and St. Louis carved up the Bears D and scored at will. That said, the Bears are right in the hunt at the mid-point.

The Giants are now 5-4 and have lost 4 in a row and their fans think they are toast.

The Packers are 4-4 and just lost to lowly Tampa and their rookie QB 38-28.

The Falcons and Eagles are 5-3 each and are only one up.

The Bears and the above 4 teams are in the hunt. Seattle, SF, and Carolina are all 3-5 and could make a move in the next couple of weeks. Giving up on the season makes no sense. Predictably, fans in Chicago have largely written off the team - that is what they always do.

I believe in Lovie and think that Forte and Cutler will continue to play better and better as the season goes on. The Bears have to improve on D and I fully expect them to improve enough to compete each week. If they do, they will be in the hunt until the end. With games against the Packers (in Chicago) and Eagles (in Chicago) there is a lot of football to play. Beating the 49ers this Thursday night is now critical, as wil be every game because of the tiebreakers. If the Bears play more like they did against Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Green Bay earlier in the year they will be fine. If they cannot it will be tough. Either way - I believe!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bears Thoughts

The Bears D - particularly the D line is just horrible. They get no pressure up front at all and giving Kurt Warner - or anyone - 4-5 seconds with no pressure to go through reads is a recipe for failure. On top of that, the Cardinals were able to run at will. They were five yards down the field before they were even touched.

The Bears special teams failed to convert a field goal, but they didn't really do anything.

The Bears O was fine. The O-line was OK, the run game was OK but had to be abandoned because they were so far behind so quickly.

The Cardinals scored on all five possessions in the first half 4 TDs and 1 FG and the Bears were down 34-7 at the half.

Incredibly, the Bears had a chance in the fourth quarter. The Bears had cut it to 34-21 with about 9 minutes in the game. The Bears had the Cardinals backed up 3rd and 25 from the Cards 2 yard line. If they stick the Cardinals on that play they get the ball at the 50 and could have cut it to 34-28 with about 5-6 minutes to go. The Cards hit a 24 yard pass, punted, put the Bears back at their 25 and then Cutler threw an interception on third down. End of game.

I have faith in Lovie, but he has to coach. He hasn't done a good job in 2 of the last three weeks. If he cannot get it done, there will have to be changes in the coaching staff.

The Bears are 4-4 and given the other losses that happened, they still largely have control of their own destiny. With Philly, NY, Green Bay, SF, Carolina all losing they are still in it. But their D isn't playing at a level that will allow for success.

Unemployment and Health Care

Two quick notes - the unemployment rate ticked up to 10.2 percent last month. Not surprising. We will start to see a turn in the next few months. That is exactly how every other recovery worked with unemployment being a lagging indicator of economic strength.

The House passed comprehensive health care reform. That was great news. It puts further pressure on the Senate to get something done. It is going to happen.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NFL Coaches Records

Here is a good link to coaching records.

In Chicago, there are fickle fans who want Lovie fired. It is crazy. The guy has a .563 winning percentage. The Bears are 4-3 and are in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Of course, these are the same fans that will immediately jump on the bandwagon if the Bears make the playoffs. Whatever.

Off-Year Election Results

I heard a lot of gibberish by Mike Steele - RNC Chair - about how winning the NJ and VA Governorships was such a big deal and that the RNC is back. It is a bunch of bunk. Creigh Deeds in Virginia and Gov. Corzine in NJ were very, very weak candidates on their own. Certainly it is no surprise that Steele is crowing - that is what Party Chairs do to try to rally their troops, but the reality is that the mid-terms will be a much better barometer of how the country feels about Obama and Democratic leadership. Governor's races are local affairs between individual candidates. They are not harbingers of national politics. California always has a Republican governor but they never vote Republican in presidential races. Virginia has had numerous Democratic governors, but had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 45 years.

I think the most interesting race was NY's 23rd House district race. This was a very interesting case all the way around. For 100 years, the district has been Republican. Obama selected the former Republican Representative, John McHugh, as the Secretary of the Army. This opened up the district to a special election that had an interesting back story. The Republican Party had selected a moderate Republican as the candidate, but tea baggers and fringe conservatives hated her and pushed forward their own right wingnut who didn't even live in the district. This dude didn't even understand basic issues within the district.

In the end, the Republican Party was splintered in the 23rd, and a district that is solidly Republican went to a Democrat for the first time in 100 years. As long as the Republican Party has these crazy wingnuts pushing the agenda, they will always have trouble within their own Party to deal with.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Al Groh's Time is Up

I have been a long-time supporter of Al Groh. I like the guy and think he has done an admirable job at UVA. However, the current 3-5 record - including double digit losses at home to William and Mary and Duke - are totally unacceptable. Barring some miracle where the Cavs win out and defeat VT, Al Groh should be relieved of his duties at the end of the year.

He has had a decent run, but the last couple of years have not been good enough to continue his term as the UVA coach. I'd like to see UVA try to get Steve Spurrier, but if they cannot get a big name coach, the Richmond coach would be a nice addition. He has ties to UVA and he knows how to recruit in the region. He has consistently won over the last several years including a FCS national championship. I liken him to a Jim Tressel.

I'll still support the team and Groh the rest of the year, but the Duke loss was embarrassing.

Bears Win

30-6 was the final score so that is the good news. The Bears D and special teams were very good. The Bears got turnovers and Hunter Hillenmeyer making the D calls seemed to help things, but it was Cleveland so it is har to tell if the D is OK.

The special teams controlled the very dangerous Josh Cribbs, they hit their field goals and pinned Cleveland deep w/punts. They also got a couple of good returns including a TD by Hester that was called by because of a hold. So they were solid.

The offense still has some issues. The O-line had trouble with protection and the running game really never got it going. Cutler had a long run and Wolfe had a long run late in the game, but not much else happened. I think Cleveland has a decent D, but not one that should cause that much trouble for a good offense.

This week the Bears get 4-3 Arizona at home. That should be a good barometer of where the Bears are. They win that game they will be 5-3 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. They lose and it is a tough slog the rest of the year.