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Columnist
Stinkballs are raining down on deadbeat Bears
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/9/2009 12:02 AM

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If the latest Bears pratfall were a feature film, the title would be "Meatballs with a Chance of Clouds."

The Bears would be the meatballs after a 41-21 loss to the Cardinals in Soldier Field.

The chance of clouds would be the rest of the season.

This loss represented the Bears' third straight underwhelming performance and third loss in four games.

"We're not where we want to be," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said.

The way they're playing it looks like they want to be on a Caribbean Island during the NFL playoffs.

Last week Bears coach Lovie Smith insisted there is no such thing as an ugly win. This week nobody bothered to ask him whether there's any such thing as an ugly loss, pretty loss or whatever that monstrosity was that his team just foisted on a restless, booing crowd.

Anyway, that's it. I'm out of sarcasm. It's time to offer a solution to the funk the Bears have been in for a month now.

Here it is: the winning coach in Saturday's Illinois-Northwestern game gets to replace Smith for the rest of the season and the loser has to replace Notre Dame's Charlie Weis.

Or should it be vice versa? Should the winner get to coach the Irish and the loser have to coach the Bears?

OK, seriously, that really is it now. I'm out of sick jokes about the Bears. They are no laughing matter anyway as they embark on the second half of the season with a deceptively respectable 4-4 record.

If meatballs aren't the word to describe the Bears then stinkballs is. They stink. All three phases of their game stink. Their coaching staff stinks. Everything stinks.

Winning is the great deodorizer, but losing is the great stinkifier.

If anybody and anything symbolize what a mess the Bears are, he is defensive tackle Tommie Harris and it is what he perpetrated during the Cardinals' first offensive series.

In an important game that required all hands to be available, Harris shoved a clenched one into the helmeted head of Arizona guard Deuce Lutui.

Harris was ejected. The Bears' defensive line applied little pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. The Cards went on to score 41 points. Connect the dots.

"Tommie has to be smarter than that," Smith said.

That's about as publicly harsh as the Bears' coach gets with one of his players. Maybe he needs to be harsher considering the slide his team is on.

Then again, maybe not even that would help. Too many of the Bears are bad. Some of the ones who aren't bad are injured. Some of the ones who aren't bad or injured appear to be indifferent.

"Any question (anybody has), you can ask it," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "It's fair."

At best the Bears figured to be in the upper middle of NFL mediocrity along with, say, the Packers, Bengals and Cardinals.

Well, each of those beat the Bears this season so maybe Lovie's Not-So-Lovable Losers rank more in the lower middle of NFL mediocrity.

"We have to do some soul searching now," Smith said.

How about some personnel searching instead? You know, find some better players to play and some better coaches to coach them.

Those gigantic meatball clouds are about to burst.