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Bears' list of problems a long one with only a couple weeks left to fix
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't see much to like in Saturday's preseason loss to Arizona.


George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/29/2010 8:42 PM

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If, as Bears coach Lovie Smith says, "We're learning from some of the things we're doing wrong," a lot of players must be putting in a lot of time in the classroom.

Because the Bears are doing a lot of things wrong.

Smith seemed conflicted more than anything else following a third straight preseason loss Saturday night in a game he was hoping to see significant improvement after back-to-back 15-point losses.

But there was little to provide encouragement.

"It's preseason, you make mistakes, you don't play as well as you need to," Smith said. "It's a glorified practice, you have to look at it like that."

That was a contradiction of one of Smith's favorite mantras, that whenever the scoreboard is functioning, you want to win. He reversed field in the next sentence.

"Whenever they're keeping score, you want to win the football game and you want to make improvements each week," Smith said. "We're going to be a good football team; we're not there right now. We haven't played that way yet."

For the Bears, the best thing about this preseason is that it will be over Thursday night after a final tuneup in Cleveland against the Browns.

"They're going to let us start over in a couple weeks," Smith said Saturday night, searching for some positives.

He's right, though. A mulligan is the best that the Bears can hope for at this point.

There are problems that always come with the preseason, especially for an offense learning a new scheme.

But as Smith himself pointed out, the Bears' problems go beyond players adjusting to a new offense.

Smith admitted that the Bears don't want to show future opponents too much of their Mike Martz offense, but they've failed at executing the basics in way too many situations.

"Everything we do is about getting ready for Detroit (the regular-season opener), so of course we're not going to (show too much)," Smith said. "But that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about right now: blocking, tackling, those kinds of things.

"It doesn't matter what the scheme is and whether we game plan as much as we'll game plan later on. We should be playing better ball with some of the basic fundamentals of football."

Until the Bears start tackling better, especially at the safety position, scheme won't matter.

Safeties Major Wright, Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks actually have seen their stock rise while sitting out with injuries because the guys playing are missing so many tackles.

The pass-blocking on the offensive line has been enjoyable only for those who like to see quarterbacks run for their lives or look for a soft place to fall.

"You work through these things to get ready for the season," Smith said. "That's where we are right now."

The Bears also are in a rather unhealthy position injury wise.

Three of their top four linebackers - Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach - are hurt. And three of their top five safeties did not play Saturday because of injuries.

You have to wonder if 13 days is enough time to work through all the problems the Bears are having.