If the Eagles beat the Packers in today’s NFC wild-card game at Lincoln Financial Field, they will take on the Bears in the divisional round next Sunday at Soldier Field. If the Packers win today, they’ll head next to Atlanta — and it would keep alive a possible meeting with the Bears in the NFC Championship Game.
That’s the short view. The longer view is more sobering.
The Packers and Eagles not only have elite quarterbacks but were the third- and fourth-youngest teams in the NFC at the start of the season and have only gotten younger as injured veterans have been replaced by backups. The Bears are the third-oldest team and likely will have to fight through these teams again and again if they hope to remain competitive in the NFC in the coming years.
This is the predicament that GM Jerry Angelo and his front office have put this franchise in and this is why I withhold my whole hearted support. While the window opens for teams like the Packers, Eagles and Patriots, it is rapidly closing for the Bears and it has been for some years. The Bears do have a couple of young play makers including the recently drafted Johnny Knox. But the last Pro Bowl position player they drafted were Tommie Harris and Nathan Vasher in 2004.
The Bears have to do better in the draft if they want to keep up with the younger teams in the NFL.
“Kansas City and Chicago are extremely strong with their coordinators, but the Chiefs’ Todd Haley is unproven as a head guy and the Bears’ Lovie Smith has some game-day inconsistencies. Smith has guided his team to the Super Bowl, though.”
He rates the Bears coaching staff a disappointing 9th of the 12 playoff teams.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Bob McGinn gives Bears GM Jerry Angelo some love probably though gritted teeth. (I had to link to this story through commentary by Tom Kowalski at mlive.com rather than directly to the Journal Sentinel because I didn’t want to become a “Packer Insider”. It didn’t sound too masculine to me…
“Sanchez credited his poise and the team’s overall coolness under pressure to the lessons learned in a regular-season loss to the Bears.
“‘The most important thing to me was remembering the Chicago game,’ he said. ‘A field goal … just give us a chance, give us the fourth down, and not turn the ball over like the Chicago game.”’
ESPN‘s Merril Hoge makes some interesting comments about what the Jets did to beat Peyton Manning:
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tells ESPN that the Seahawks took advantage of the Saints defense making “educated guesses”:
Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, is going to take some heat this week.
Ben Maller at FOX Sports Radio reports that the bettors took a bath yesterday. Seventy-five percent of the action was on Indianapolis. Sixty-eight percent was on the Saints. Like Maller, I can’t say I’m surprised. Bookies aren’t in the business to lose money and when the split isn’t close to 50-50, you can figure that the result is more likely to end up in Vegas’ favor.
“If you were not aware, there is an offensive line shortage in the NFL. There are fewer elite lines than in my recent memory. And even some of the best teams in the league are fielding very ordinary units up front.”
I would say that every breathing Bear fan is definitely aware.
Dave Hyde and Mike Berardino at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel point out that the Dolphins aren’t the only ones who made mistakes in botching the attempt to hire Jim Harbaugh. The press had a bad week as well:
Darrelle Revis talks to the New York Post about the Jets matchup with the Patriots next week:
The key question is whether the Jets can recover form the butt kicking they took from the Patriots late in the season to play with the needed confidence to win.
“It didn’t matter what I said to them, or what was said outside, and all of the story lines and all that, they just did not buy it. Where that came from? If I knew that, we’d have something special here. It came out of an attitude and it came out of a faith in one another.”
“Others might call the Bears’ Cover-2 defense predictable, but Urlacher thinks it’s simply pretty darn good.
“‘If we’re so predictable, then we shouldn’t be in the playoffs,’ he said. ‘If you look around the league — and most people don’t see the intricacies of each defense for every team — we don’t screw up a lot.”’
In fairness the Bears really aren’t that predictable anymore. As has been pointed out by several good color commentators over the course of the season the Bears are disguising their converges more than they ever have this year. They often start in the cover two but switch to a different defense right before the snap. It’s yet another reason why the defense has been better this year.
“Welcome to the upside-down world of the NFL playoffs, where even the most ardent of Bears fans will be cheering for the Green Bay Packers today.
“If the Packers pull off an upset in Philadelphia, then the Bears will be hosting the worst playoff team in NFL history a week from today.”
Most Bear fans agree. But be careful what you wish for. Though Seattle is very beatable seeing Green Bay go should probably be the number one priority.
The Packers are very inconsistent. They didn’t play well in either of the games against the Bears with 18 penalties in game 1 at Soldier Field and with quarterback Aaron Rogers not throwing with his usual accuracy in game 2, not to mention the wide receivers dropping balls all over the field.
But if the Packers somehow put together four good games in a row, they are the most dangerous team in the NFC playoffs. And their tenacious man-to-man defense along with their patience on offense with screens and the underneath passing game make them far and away the worst match up for the Bears in the NFC playoffs.
The other day, I wrote an entry entitled “Brian Urlacher Doesn’t Get It”. Well, Urlacher’s got nothing on Dophins owner Steve Ross.
Here is what Ross had to say about the botched attempt to hire Jim Harbaugh as head coach while retaining Tony Sparano (via ESPN):
“Ross, who took over the Dolphins two years ago, said he had never interviewed a coach before and was naive to think he could keep his meeting with Harbaugh secret.
“‘I should have probably let Tony know,’ Ross said. ‘I never thought it would be national news. I realized after having read the papers the anguish I had put Tony through. It’s probably a mistake on my part not thinking that when you do something like this, it’s public.”
Let’s set aside Ross’ naivete. He really thinks that the reason to tell Sparano was because the word might get out? Not because, I don’t know, because its part of being a stand up employer of people in an honest, stand up organization? A stand up guy?
Dave Hyde and Mike Berardino at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel confirm in this video what most of us already figured:
Jeff Ireland was put in an uncomfortable spot when Ross decided to go ahead and interview Harbaugh without firing Sparano first. He undoubtedly tried in vain to tell Ross that he was doing the wrong thing:
Ross’ message is that the whole thing would have been OK as long as he could have kept it all a secret and worked behind Sparano’s back. My message is, “Who would want to work for a guy you can’t trust?” Is it any wonder that Harbaugh turned him down?
Take a look at the expression on Sparano’s face during the press conference and tell me he isn’t going to leave as soon as possible if he ever achieves the needed success to have a choice. Tell me who would blame him.