AL HAMNIK: Lovie Smith's coaching future with Bears is on hold

2012-12-10T17:00:00Z 2012-12-31T15:41:16Z AL HAMNIK: Lovie Smith's coaching future with Bears is on holdAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
December 10, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

Once upon a time the Bears were 7-1, with all their takeaways and return touchdowns, and Jay Cutler saying he had so many offensive weapons, "it was crazy."

And then you watched the suddenly 8-5 Bears let another one slip away Sunday up in snowy Minnesota.

We can now order the floral wreaths and put the choir on standby. The end is here. To paraphrase a famous line from "Seinfeld" — no playoffs for you.

Not with this tepid offense.

"We are digging ourselves a hole," Devin Hester told reporters after the game. Hester dropped a sure touchdown pass and was again ineffective with five punt returns for 58 yards.

"We have to make sure we close this hole up before it gets too late. We have Green Bay coming in (Sunday). It's going to be a tough game because they are battling for playoff position, too."

The Packers have won five of the last six meetings, so house money is favoring them.

I'm not a betting man but as I did while the Bears were losing four of their last five, I believe they'll fall to Green Bay, beat Arizona, then get tripped up at Detroit in the season finale.

That should cost Lovie Smith his job. We can always hope.

"We're at 8-and-5 right now. We got a three-game season. Simple as that," Smith said in Monday's press conference.

The Bears have been exposed as pretenders and I can't say this enough.

Jay Cutler hasn't shown the consistency worthy of a big payday while getting the stuffing beat out of him. In Sunday's 21-14 loss, his two interceptions led to 14 Minnesota points.

Mike Tice has not impressed as the Bears' offensive coordinator, and Sunday was not one of his better efforts with 18 rushes and 53 pass attempts, including a pick 6 by Cutler on a third-and-1.

Other than Brandon Marshall, Bears' receivers couldn't catch the flu if you coughed in their faces. They dropped at least six passes against the Vikings, four of which could've gone for touchdowns.

"It's just frustrating. I let a play go. I let a play go that I can't get back," said Hester, who was seen slamming his helmet to the ground after his drop.

"We've got to finish plays we're allowed to make."

The Bears' list of injuries continues to grow, but it's no excuse at this level, where backups are paid nicely to produce. When your reserves are bad, that's another problem.

There are no "play-makers" on either side of the ball, other than Marshall and Cutler.

Matt Forte has new paper and acts like he doesn't care about anything else. The offensive line should be out on the street. Kellen Davis is stealing money every time he takes the field.

Defensively, Brian Urlacher's best days are behind him, Julius Peppers is an anomaly and Charles Tillman runs hot and cold as a contributor.

Smith's inability to play football chess in tight games has been a serious shortcoming. That 8-8 collapse last season and failure to again make the playoffs after a promising 7-1 start should cost him his job.

"All of our futures are tied (together)," he said. "It's all based on wins and losses and I'm OK with that."

Smith has run out of excuses.

The next three games have never been bigger.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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