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Columnist
Failure to show raises bigger questions for Bears
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/27/2009 12:01 AM

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Let's not overreact to one game.

Make that, one really terrible game.

It's important to maintain some NFL perspective, even after one of the worst defeats of the last decade.

However, you do have to ask yourself where this Bears team will be if there's another outing like Sunday's in the offing.

Or if they fail to make the playoffs.

Or if they finish under .500.

Or if people remember exactly what the state of this franchise was on April 1.

Oh yeah, April 1, 2009, B.C.

That was Before Cutler, the day before the Bears traded for the franchise savior.

See, GM Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith were feeling the heat before they snagged Jay Cutler, or at least there was talk they needed a good 2009 to put them back on solid footing.

Remember?

Everyone was so shocked by the Cutler deal that the Bears' state of affairs prior to the trade was forgotten.

Angelo had produced two playoff teams in seven years - he was hired after the 2001 team was already built - and Smith had won two playoff games in five years.

Before Cutler, they were known for throwing away a Super Bowl because they were too stubborn to recognize their QB couldn't play.

After Cutler, they enjoyed a second honeymoon, but that's over following Sunday's debacle. People have been reminded that perhaps they needed a good season to stay in business.

Now, this is still the McCaskey family, and it may be a reach to think that after this season they'd be willing to eat two years of a Smith contract worth $5 million annually, and Angelo is signed all the way through 2013.

Nevertheless, another loss or two like Sunday, combined with missing the playoffs for a third straight year, would be a recipe for change.

But again, it's one loss and the Bears could be sitting here in three weeks at 6-3 or 5-4 after getting Cleveland and Arizona at home, and San Francisco on the road.

That would be good because right now the Bears look like the team Dennis Green thought they were before Cutler arrived, a .500 club with no offensive or defensive lines, with a predictable offensive game plan, and soft defensive attack that relies too much on the Cover 2 and rarely produces a pass rush.

Most of that is Angelo's responsibility, but a game like Sunday's reminds one that Smith dumped Ron Rivera in a Caesar-like power play, installed Bob Babich, and now has taken back the defensive play calling after the disaster that was Babich.

So, yes, there is a lot at stake.

And it's fair to remind the Bears of where they were April 1, and how strikingly similar they seem now to that club.

Angelo put his reputation and his job on the line by trading for Cutler, and Smith did the same by taking back the play calling.

It's the line play, the awful line play - not Smith's play calling or Cutler's play - that has them at only .500, but the promise was that Smith's defense, Cutler's arm, and Rod Marinelli's presence would solve the Bears' ills.

That has not been the case, as they still lack personnel on both lines, and they lack a style and an identity as a team on both sides of the ball.

Funny how fast perception of a club can change. Only 10 days ago, the Bears were 3-1 and headed out of a bye week toward the Super Bowl.

So it's important to remember that this discussion was caused by the complete lack of effort Sunday, the failure to prepare mentally, and a shocking inability to execute.

That is how people get fired.

To his credit, Smith spent Sunday night and Monday afternoon accepting full responsibility for his team's failure to appear in Cincinnati. He didn't try to make it sound better than it was, and even admitted he benched a useless Tommie Harris, which is a positive step going forward.

So we fully assume they will show up at home Sunday and play a football game against Cleveland.

Perception or not, job trouble or not, the fiasco in Cincy is probably a game the Bears don't want to repeat this season.

Or jobs, of some kind, will be lost.

brozner@dailyherald.com