Monday, October 13, 2008

Why me? What now?

Yesterday's loss is the type that leads me to all kinds of useless soul-searching. Especially useless because by soul I mean "the Chicago Bears," and I'm not even on the fricking team or in any way capable of effecting them at all. I can only imagine what it might be to be like on the team. (Actually, I can't... I'm not really sure how professional football players think about being on teams... for one thing, I think they just don't or rarely ever do love their teams the way fans do. Part of maturing as a football player seems to be coming to the realization that it's just a job... which is, like, so completely different from being a fan... anyway...)

Of course, everyone is calling for Lovie Smith's head, because that's what Chicago fans do any time the team loses. Thing is: we're very much still in control of our chances to make the playoffs. All we have to do is win more games than Minnesota or Green Bay, and I think that seems way more likely than the opposite happening in either case. Minnesota is pretty much disintegrating. Their offense is horrible. Against a Detroit Lions team that made Kyle Orton look all-world, they only managed to win because of a really questionable pass-interference penalty on the Lions. And that was even with the Lions spotting them two points when Dan Orlovsky forgot where he was and wandered out of the back of the end zone (quoth Orlovsky, "You're an idiot.") The Vikings are 3-3 but two of their wins were more the result of the other team sucking than their own goodness. Meanwhile, the Bears are 3-3, and all three of their losses involve bizarre fourth quarter collapses that are very much out of character. It seems unlikely they will continue to be in character for the whole season.

Meanwhile, Green Bay is basically using a pre-season lineup on defense. They'll probably stick with us longer than Minnesota just because of Aaron Rodgers being pretty legit, but they ain't gonna win more games than us.

That said, we do need to make some basic strategic changes, and here's what I think they are:

-Attack with the offense! Attack with the mid-range passing game, right out of the gate. That's the part of the offense that has been most consistently successful over the past several games, and it's becoming more obvious that the offense works best when it's put in the hands of Kyle Orton. Matt Forte is a really good running back, and it's not that he couldn't handle the load--it's just that the offense works better when it's going through Orton. Wait until we're up by two scores to start eating up the clock. And attacking works: every game we've started out by attacking on offense, (see especially the Philly game, the Detroit game) we've been in control of the game. Then we went out against Atlanta yesterday and just kind of hoped they'd make a few mistakes or something. We didn't really attack on offense until some time midway through the third quarter. The receivers are starting to run routes well and Orton is really starting to click, and the offense is capable of so much more, right now, than just being the side of the ball that tries not to lose. I have to admit, I do like the general trend toward attacking that the offense has taken, but so far it's seemed to be limited to aspects of the game plan against certain teams. Like, we'll attack, but then we get back to our base offense. We need to change what our base offense is.

-On defense? Jeez, I dunno, actually... it's hard to tell what's going on with the defense. It seems like the main problem is that they only play well when they're completely jazzed out of their minds. When they just sit back, like yesterday, letting the offense come to them, it just keeps coming. We need to switch to the always high-risk/high-reward defense of 2006 and (especially) early 2007. Whenever we lay back in a "safe" defense, we get destroyed. It has not worked, ever. Not once. So, Babich, Lovie, whoever it is that needs to be getting this done: get the defense angry before games. And set them loose. There is so much talent pretty much everywhere on this defense, but that doesn't mean that they're good enough to beat teams without trying, which is what seems to be the thinking.

So, I guess, basically that's the theme. When this team goes out clearly on a mission to take the game from the other team, it wins. When it goes out figuring it's just going to win and waits for it to happen, it loses.

Now I feel a little better. And we're going to beat the Vikings this weekend. I have no doubt.

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