When will the calls for a “screamer” coach begin?

It’s happened every year since Mike Ditka was fired. So you know it’ll happen again during the Bears’ 2009 season: The calls will come in to local sports talk stations that the Bears need to hire a coach who screams, yells, swears and kicks things at his players.

People here still love Mike Ditka. Yes, the coach did win a Super Bowl. But he also squandered more talent than any Bears coach I can remember. All those regular-season wins were fun. But what about the playoffs? If you don’t count the 1985 Super Bowl year, Ditka put together a 3-6 record in the playoffs.

But still people pine for him. And every time the Bears of today lose a game, a certain portion of the fan base blames the fact that head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t scream or stomp his feet on the sidelines.

Now, I don’t think Smith is a great football coach. I think the Bears are often too predictable, too safe. But I don’t think it’s because he’s not emotional enough on the sideline. I actually like a head coach who treats his players like adults.

I never thought screaming into someone’s face was a good way to motivate a person. To me, it just makes the screamer look like an ass.


Good news for Bears legend Perry: He’s released from the hospital

A CBS News report says that former Bear defensive tackle — and occasional touchdown-maker — William “the Refrigerator” Perry was released from a South Carolina hospital yesterday.

Perry had been hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a chronic inflammation of the peripheral nerves.

Perry is one of those Bears that has become legendary. Although it’s questionable how much of his reputation he deserves. He was always a decent defensive tackle, especially against the run. But he could have been great if he had kept his weight under control.

That sounds funny to say now. Professional football fields today are filled with players who make Perry look svelte.

It’s hard not to look back at Perry’s career –his offensive hijinks notwithstanding — and not feel at least a twinge of regret at what might have been.

In fact, it’s a bit like looking at the 1985 Bears as a whole. This was an amazing team … for one season. Like Perry, it was a collection of marque talent that never quite lived up to its ability, save for one magical year.


Can this be the year when all five major teams make the postseason?

Here’s something that has never happened in Chicago sports history: All five of our major sports teams have never made the postseason in the same year.

It could — emphasis on that word “could” — happen this year, though.

Let’s look at our beloved teams: Both the Bulls and the Blackhawks have already made the playoffs. The Cubs look to be a lock in the ultra-weak National League.

That leaves the Bears and White Sox. With the addition of Jay Cutler, the Bears have a good chance to make the postseason. They still play in a fairly weak division. A top quarterback may be all they need.

But the White Sox? Oh, my. I love the White Sox. Always have. It pains me to watch this version. I have the sinking feeling that the Sox may be the one local team that makes 2009 a less than perfect sports year.


Angelo really does like these receivers?

The annual Bears Expo took place last weekend at Soldier Field. Of course, most of the buzz there centered on new quarterback Jay Cutler.

But there was an interesting sidebar, of course, centering on the Bears’ weak cast of wide receivers. According to a story in the Sun-Times, several attendees at the expo questioned Bears general manager Jerry Angelo on who, exactly, the prized new quarterback is supposed to throw to.

It’s a big question. Devin Hester isn’t really a number-one receiver, no matter what Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith say. And you can’t really tout the virtues of second-year receiver Earl Bennett when the receiver didn’t even make it onto the field last year.

But Angelo defended the team’s wide receivers under fan questioning. Maybe it’s all a smokescreen, and Angelo is furiously working the phones behind the scenes to find a new, veteran wide receiver.

For Cutler’s sake, I hope that’s the case. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears starting the season with their rather sorry lot at receiver. And that’s too bad: These receivers can make any quarterback look ordinary.


What happens if Cutler goes down?

The Bears Gab blog had a frightening post the other day: What happens to the Bears offense if Jay Cutler should suffer a serious injury?

Why, it’d leave the offense in the hands of Caleb Hanie.

Yikes.

Now, Caleb may be a perfectly fine quarterback. He may be the next Henry Burris. We don’t know because Hanie has hardly played.

It’s scary, though, to think of how little depth the Bears have at this crucial position. Cutler doesn’t have a history of injuries, but in this league, any player can get injured at any time. An injury to Cutler just might doom the season.


Running game the key to this Bears season?

If you’ve never visited Da’ Bears Blog, make sure you do so. It’s a fun blog to read. Even better, it makes you think. (Not that we should ever think too much about football.)

Anyway, in this recent post, one of the blog’s writers says that though new quarterback Jay Cutler is receiving most of the attention, the real key to the upcoming Bears season is the running game.

The post cites some strong evidence for this belief. In the Bears’ 2006 Superbowl season, the team had only three games with under 100 yards rushing. This is a big reason it won 13 games that year.

In 2008, though, the team had a whopping 10 games where it didn’t rush for 100 yards. It finished with a lucky nine wins. (That stat is a little surprising considering the success of Matt Forte last year. He did, though, tail off significantly at the end of the season.) In 2007, when the Bears won only seven times, they had 12 games where they didn’t manage 100 yards rushing.

Lovie Smith likes to say that the Bears are a running team. But too often, they aren’t. And when they’re not, they lose.

Check out the post at Da’ Bears Blog, and be sure to read the long, long list of comments under it. You just might learn something.


The Bears a top-five team? I don’t think so

I’m a sports pessimist. I always expect the worst. Of course, I’m a fan of Chicago sports teams. More often than not, that pessimism is warranted.

I was surprised, then, to read this report by Andrew Maisonneuve at the excellent sports site bleacher report. In his post, Maisonneuve says that the Bears, thanks to the signing, mostly, of Jay Cutler, are now a top-five team in the NFL.

As much as I’d like to, I just can’t agree. Yes, the Bears finished with a winning record — 9-7 — last season with the inept Kyle Orton as quarterback. But anyone who watched that team knows that the Bears were extremely lucky to get those nine wins. They just as easily could have finished 6-10. Two games stand out, the late-season comeback wins against the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. The Bears were severely outplayed in each game, and didn’t deseve to win either of them.

Yes, Cutler gives the Bears a new dimension. Yes, he’s an amazing upgrade from Orton. But don’t forget, Cutler’s throwing to the worst group of wide receivers in the league.

Then there’s the defense. This defense is getting older. And for two straight years, it’s been a pretty bad defense, despite the presence of Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Adewale Ogunleye. I don’t see these guys stopping anyone in crucial situations.

That being said, I do think the Bears, thanks to playing in a fairly weak division, will make the playoffs as a 10-6 team. But I woudn’t rank them as either a top-five team or a Super Bowl contender.

Now, if they get some wide receivers between now and opening day? That’d change everything.


Just what the Bears need, another tight end

Maybe Jerry Angelo doesn’t know the difference between tight ends and wide receivers. But yesterday, the Bears signed tight end Michael Gaines to a one-year deal. You can read about the move in this story by ESPN.

That makes five tight ends on the roster. And still no wide receiver who’s worth much.

According to the ESPN story, Gaines is a better blocker than a receiver. That sets him apart from Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark, the Bears’ two other primary tight ends, both of whom are strong receivers but a little weak in the blocking department.

My guess is that Gaines will stay on the roster, along with Olsen and Clark, of course.

Now, maybe, the Bears will address their wide receiver problems. I sure hope so. If they don’t, new quarterback Jay Cutler might have a long season.


Toomer or Boldin? This isn’t really a debate, is it?

These Bears, most notably coach Lovie Smith, have often treated their fans like they’ve never watched an NFL game. Remember last year, when the Bears insisted that they were happy with their wide receivers? Fans certainly weren’t. And after watching a year of Rashied Davies drop passes and Marty Booker practice his disappearing act, no one was happy with the Bears receivers.

Now comes word that the Bears might, just might, take a look at former N. Y. Giants mainstay receiver Amani Toomer.

It’s true that Toomer’s probably better than any receiver currently on the Bears roster, including any late-round draft picks. But it’s also true that Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin is 10 times better than Toomer.

Yes, I know it’d take a near miracle, but maybe the Bears can do something to get Boldin here. Can you imagine the passing yards the Bears would rack up with Cutler passing to Boldin? There might finally be reason to keep your eyes open the next time the Bears have the ball.

It’s hard to believe, but the Bears’ fate this season depends more than ever on the offense. The defense has proven during the last two years that it can’t stop anyone when it matters. The Bears need to win shootouts this year. I’m not sure they can do this with Devin Hester as their top receiver.


Angelo impressed by receivers. Really?

Let’s hope Jerry Angelo was lying. But in a story on the Bears house organ, ChicagoBears.com, Angelo says that the Bears receivers have impressed him at rookie minicamp.

Really? Late-round picks at wide receiver rarely turn out well for the Bears. I have a feeling that quarterback Jay Cutler’s going to wish he had some real stud receivers to throw to this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m predicting a 10-6 finish and a playoff appearance for the Bears this year. But I’m not convinced that any of the receivers currently on the Bears roster are going to make defenders take notice. The best receivers on the team are still Greg Olsen and Desmond Clar, both of whom are tight ends. They both happen to be pretty good receivers, but they’re not the speed burners on the outside that teams really fear.

The hope, of course, is that Devin Hester shows further development as a speed receiver this year. But last year, his greatest talent seemed to be drawing the pass-interference penalty. That was with Kyle Orton’s weak arm, though. Maybe with Cutler Hester can become a weapon.

I don’t know, though. I think this offense will be much improved this year. But I still don’t expect it to be one that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents.