Bears Win But Questions RemainBy Brad Stewart on November 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm in Bears, Featured
The Bears squeaked out a 22-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills this afternoon, but beating the NFL worst 0-8 Bills is hardly an accomplishment and this wasn’t a prolific win by any stretch of the imagination.
Playing the Bills is kind of like challenging your younger sister’s best friend to a fight. If you lose, you have serious problems. And if you win, well you also probably have serious problems.
The Bears, now 5-3, earned the latest victory not because of a come-from-behind effort on their part but because the Bills handed the Bears the win on a silver platter. But you have to think at this point the Bills hope they keep losing or the Cowboys may steal the first pick in the draft out from beneath them.
On a bright note, the Bears were 7-for-12 on third downs during the game. Coming in to this game, the Bears’ conversion rate on third down was just 17.9 percent. In case you don’t know, that’s bad—the worst in the NFL, actually.
But during this game they were 7-for-12. Two of those conversions, however, came on Bills penalties (an illegal use of hands penalty on 3rd-and-12 and a pass interference call on 3rd-and-10). Take those penalties out of the mix and they were 5-for-12 on third down. Better than they’ve been the rest of the year, but still very bad.
The media has been discussing the fate of two NFL coaches very arduously for the past weeks. Those coaches are Minnesota’s Brad Childress, who spent a third round draft pick to acquire Randy Moss only to release him four weeks later, and Dallas’s Wade Phillips, who just lost to the Packers by 38 points. Lovie Smith needs to be in this conversation.
He isn’t, of course, because the Bears are only half a game out of the NFC North division lead, but he is a bad coach and that should be reason enough for him to join the conversation. Bad play from a bad team is one thing, but the Bears aren’t a bad team on the whole. They’ve shown flashes where they look like a contender, despite Smith’s best efforts.
In one of the ugliest games of the season, the Bears beat the Lions on opening weekend despite Smith’s decision to pass up a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the one yard line in an attempt to score the TD. The as-close-to-a-sure-thing-as-possible field goal from Robbie Gould would have given the Bears a 16-14 lead with under nine minutes remaining in the game. Matt Forte was, of course, stopped short of the goal line and the Lions took over on offense. The Lion’s offense had been anemic and the chances they were going to score again were slim-to-none. They didn’t and if the Bear’s hadn’t been able to score again, Smith would have single handedly lost the game for the team.
Perhaps worse than the decision to go for it on fourth down, however, was his statement the next day that he “still feels good” about his decision to pass up the easy three points.
At least during one of his most recent egregious coaching errors, Smith admitted he made a mistake by not challenging a Jay Cutler fumble at the one yard line in the Bear’s game against the Redskins. Regardless of his admission of guilt, if the Bears miss the playoffs by one game, you can hold Smith accountable. If he’d challenged the play, the Bears almost certainly would have gone up 21-10. In the end, he didn’t challenge and they lost 14-17.
But the Bears have lost two of their last three games with the only win coming against the winless Bills. On the other hand, the Packers have won all three of their most recent games and just beat the Cowboys 45-7. Lovie Smith can breathe a sigh of relief: the odds of the Bears missing the playoffs by one game look slimmer by the week. They’ll probably miss it by at least three.
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