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Fans deserve answers after loss

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October 13, 2008

BY GREG COUCH Sun-Times Columnist

ATLANTA — What really baffles me is how the Bears allowed that last pass. Yeah, also how they could come out with everything right there for them, then play without passion, as if they think a little too much of themselves.

Yes, too, how they could give Atlanta perfect field position with six seconds left. By design.

» Click to enlarge image

Sun-Times sports columnist Greg Couch

(Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

So the Bears lost 22-20 on Sunday. But think about that last pass. The Falcons were on their 44 with six seconds left. They could either throw for the end zone or throw to get into field-goal range, having to get out of bounds before time ran out. Throw short, and it’s a waste. Throw too long, and it uses all the time. What does that leave?

A pass between, roughly, the 25- and 35-yard lines, right along the sideline. Just that little area. That’s where the Falcons threw it, setting up the winning field goal.

The Bears knew where the play was going. They knew how the Falcons would get there. How could they not defend it?

You want answers? Me, too. So I kept asking everyone.

‘‘Good question,’’ linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘I don’t know.’’

‘‘In football games,’’ cornerback Corey Graham said, ‘‘anything can happen. We know what they want to do, they know what we want to do.’’

And here’s what defensive coordinator Bob Babich said:

‘‘The call didn’t work, obviously, and that’s my fault.’’

What do you mean?

‘‘They got the ball out of bounds,’’ Babich said.

You said you made the wrong call. What call should you have made?

‘‘There’s certain things you can do. Hopefully, in the future ... but it didn’t work out today.’’

Apparently, the Bears don’t think you deserve answers. Either that, or Babich has no idea what he called, why it didn’t work or what he’ll do next time.

When it comes to coordinating a defense, Babich makes a wonderful best friend for coach Lovie Smith.

The Bears blew it Sunday, and not just in the final seconds.

But just when it looked as if Kyle Orton was going to be the hero, leading that fantastic touchdown drive with 11 seconds left, the Bears were victimized by Smith’s boneheaded coaching move and Babich’s, well, whatever it is he does.

Start with this, though: The Bears aren’t who we thought they were. More importantly, they’re not who they thought they were. Where’s Dennis Green when you need him?

The defense is good but not special. You have to stop third-and-long every once in a while.

True, the cornerbacks were all hurt. But everyone gets injuries in the wrong places at the wrong times. And we spent all last year excusing the Bears’ defense because of injuries.

No more.

Everything was set up for the Bears. The whole division is wobbling. The Bears were in the perfect spot to take command and even start dreaming bigger.

I hope Chicago isn’t moping around feeling sick about those last 11 seconds Sunday. This should not be a heartbreaking thing but an infuriating one.

The Bears deserved what they got.

The Falcons fired up, trying different things, moving around, taking chances. The Bears were duds.

Exactly what have the Bears done to play with such arrogance? Destroy Detroit? Beating up the class wimp is no reason to get cocky.

A year ago, Atlanta’s quarterback, Michael Vick, was going to jail. Its coach was so insanely strict that he wouldn’t allow players to talk during team meals. Then he left at midseason.

Now the Falcons have a new coach, a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, and a victory Sunday because their exuberance outdid the Bears’ feelings of entitlement.

Yuck.

I’m being unfair here to Orton. He’s better than I thought and almost had a defining moment.

He’s not a star, but he’s more than just a guy who won’t screw up. He has a far better feel for the game than Rex Grossman did.

You should have seen Orton in the locker room, sitting on a folding chair outside the shower, wrapped in a towel, wearing shower shoes, holding a drink in a plastic container. He just sat there, staring at the floor. For two, three minutes straight. Just staring. Not blinking.

Orton is at his best in the no-huddle when things are moving fast and coaches can’t overthink and get in his brain.

With 2:43 to go, he drove 77 yards, ending with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis. Orton moved around, saw what was developing and waited to throw.

Eleven seconds left. Bears up 20-19 after all that rotten play.

When you’ve built your team around defense and special teams, how can you lose when you’re kicking off with the lead and 11 seconds left?

The brain trust went to work. Smith called for a squib kick.

‘‘We felt a squib would be safe,’’ he said. ‘‘They would have time for one play.’’

No. Sense.

The Bears kicked short to avoid a long return. But didn’t they give the ball to the Falcons in the spot they feared the Falcons might return it to?

So the Falcons returned the kick to the 44, threw The Pass, then kicked a field goal.

‘‘Tough, tough,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I wish I could give you a couple more words to show you how really hard it is.’’

A few are coming to mind.

Related Blog Posts

Bears vs. Lions: Maybe Kyle Orton isn't that Bad

From ChiCity Sports Fanion

Breakdown of Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

From BearsBeat.com

The views expressed in these blog posts are those of the author and not of the Chicago Sun-Times.

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da church of da coach wrote:

pselkins wrote:

"What I dislike is the second guessing, "heads need to roll" attitudes of people who don't seem to understand that this really is the nature of the game."

If this was the first time our defense snatched defeat from the jaws of victory I would agree with you. However, blowing 3 fourth quarter leads in 6 games ... Bob Babich is a terrible defensive coordinator. We went from a Super Bowl defense to a team that can't win with a lead and 11 seconds left in the game. PATHETIC.

10/13/2008 8:56 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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jasonh5843 wrote:

Unacceptable! Horrible strategy, horrible Bob Babich!

10/13/2008 8:36 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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jp wrote:

WHY are people still giving Orton a pass?

He's still only half the QB the Bears need. Sure, great drive at the END of the game, but where were those type of passes in the first half?

The touchdown pass was the best throw of his professional career but he should be throwing passes like that ALL THE TIME against GOOD teams.

If he wants to be the real-deal starting NFL quarterback, he has to be completing passes and driving the team down the field in EVERY quarter. What was the score at halftime again? Oh yeah - we only had three points, and not against a great team. Orton had overthrown and underthrown and just plain missed receivers.

Matt Ryan has played six professional games and he's already a better QB that Orton and Grossman combined. He realizes that, in the NFL, you have to get rid of the ball quickly. The fact that he's an accurate thrower and pretty smart doesn't hurt, either. Orton is still a half beat behind in his reads and in his ability to get rid of the ball FASTER.

Orton has gotten better, sure. And, thank god, we'll never see Grossman again. But how long are we gonna wait for Orton to keep climbing the learning curve, esp. for someone who's not elusive enough to buy time to throw and who's lack of mobility seriously narrows the play calling choices?

10/13/2008 8:07 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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dan-valpo wrote:

tommy harris is still THE HEAD CASE ....

big contract no brain .. his fumble cost points.. game..

10/13/2008 7:56 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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enrico polazzo wrote:

KEEP HEARING PEOPLE SAY M.BROWN MESSED UP IN THAT FINAL PASSING PLAY ,BUT THAT WASNT HIS MISTAKE IT WAS THE CORNERS ERROR. MARCUS HAMILTON WHO WAS FILLING IN FOR TILLMAN DIDNT DEFEND THE SIDELINES. HE RAN UP INSTEAD OF DROPPING DEEP. THATS WHY M.BROWN HAD TO RUN TO MAKE THAT PLAY. THAT WAS A BLOWN ASSIGNMENT BY HAMILTON!!

10/13/2008 7:06 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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micdago wrote:

What do you call a "sports reporter" who makes one-word paragraphs of the word "Yuck"?

It starts with an "F" and ends with a "G."

10/13/2008 7:03 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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steve34 wrote:

I don't necessarily disagree with the "squib kick", but that had to be the worst squib kick I've ever seen. Allowing it to be picked up at the 35 and handing them great field position was ridiculous. Gould needed to hit a hard squib. Make them pick it up at least inside the 30. Or do one of those little pop-fly kicks for about 30 yards where your defenders can tackle them right away. Just another 5 yards and they don't have time for a deep out to set up the field goal.

10/13/2008 6:23 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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threespires wrote:

Let's be clear about this. The Superbowl defense was Ron Rivera's defense. The culprit is Babich and he must go! The defense plays with no passion and they blow assignments. They are voting with their feet, so should we

10/13/2008 6:13 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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pselkins wrote:

Greg, I think it's a conspiracy. Perhaps you can convince the US legislature to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.

A minute before my 9 and 6 year old sons were running through the house happily yelling "The Bears won!"

The next minute they were asking me "what happened?"

Sports was my answer. It's not over until it's over. After it's over, it's not wrong, or some kind of conspiracy if it doesn't end up the way we wanted it to. The excitement of it is that at any time it can turn for the better or worse.

I like that excitement, even when it works against me.

What I dislike is the second guessing, "heads need to roll" attitudes of people who don't seem to understand that this really is the nature of the game.

10/13/2008 6:03 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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brian anderson wrote:

The Bears lost fair and square. There were no shennanigans with the clock like some have siad. I just got through watching the highligts on ESPN. The clock stopped and started when it should have. The Bears started celebrating before the game was over and they got burned. The squibb kick didn't help either.

10/13/2008 5:37 AM CDT on suntimes.com

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Fans deserve answers after loss

Recommend (10)

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October 13, 2008

BY GREG COUCH Sun-Times Columnist

ATLANTA — What really baffles me is how the Bears allowed that last pass. Yeah, also how they could come out with everything right there for them, then play without passion, as if they think a little too much of themselves.

Yes, too, how they could give Atlanta perfect field position with six seconds left. By design.

» Click to enlarge image

Sun-Times sports columnist Greg Couch

(Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

So the Bears lost 22-20 on Sunday. But think about that last pass. The Falcons were on their 44 with six seconds left. They could either throw for the end zone or throw to get into field-goal range, having to get out of bounds before time ran out. Throw short, and it’s a waste. Throw too long, and it uses all the time. What does that leave?

A pass between, roughly, the 25- and 35-yard lines, right along the sideline. Just that little area. That’s where the Falcons threw it, setting up the winning field goal.

The Bears knew where the play was going. They knew how the Falcons would get there. How could they not defend it?

You want answers? Me, too. So I kept asking everyone.

‘‘Good question,’’ linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘I don’t know.’’

‘‘In football games,’’ cornerback Corey Graham said, ‘‘anything can happen. We know what they want to do, they know what we want to do.’’

And here’s what defensive coordinator Bob Babich said:

‘‘The call didn’t work, obviously, and that’s my fault.’’

What do you mean?

‘‘They got the ball out of bounds,’’ Babich said.

You said you made the wrong call. What call should you have made?

‘‘There’s certain things you can do. Hopefully, in the future ... but it didn’t work out today.’’

Apparently, the Bears don’t think you deserve answers. Either that, or Babich has no idea what he called, why it didn’t work or what he’ll do next time.

When it comes to coordinating a defense, Babich makes a wonderful best friend for coach Lovie Smith.

The Bears blew it Sunday, and not just in the final seconds.

But just when it looked as if Kyle Orton was going to be the hero, leading that fantastic touchdown drive with 11 seconds left, the Bears were victimized by Smith’s boneheaded coaching move and Babich’s, well, whatever it is he does.

Start with this, though: The Bears aren’t who we thought they were. More importantly, they’re not who they thought they were. Where’s Dennis Green when you need him?

The defense is good but not special. You have to stop third-and-long every once in a while.

True, the cornerbacks were all hurt. But everyone gets injuries in the wrong places at the wrong times. And we spent all last year excusing the Bears’ defense because of injuries.

No more.

Everything was set up for the Bears. The whole division is wobbling. The Bears were in the perfect spot to take command and even start dreaming bigger.

I hope Chicago isn’t moping around feeling sick about those last 11 seconds Sunday. This should not be a heartbreaking thing but an infuriating one.

The Bears deserved what they got.

The Falcons fired up, trying different things, moving around, taking chances. The Bears were duds.

Exactly what have the Bears done to play with such arrogance? Destroy Detroit? Beating up the class wimp is no reason to get cocky.

A year ago, Atlanta’s quarterback, Michael Vick, was going to jail. Its coach was so insanely strict that he wouldn’t allow players to talk during team meals. Then he left at midseason.

Now the Falcons have a new coach, a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, and a victory Sunday because their exuberance outdid the Bears’ feelings of entitlement.

Yuck.

I’m being unfair here to Orton. He’s better than I thought and almost had a defining moment.

He’s not a star, but he’s more than just a guy who won’t screw up. He has a far better feel for the game than Rex Grossman did.

You should have seen Orton in the locker room, sitting on a folding chair outside the shower, wrapped in a towel, wearing shower shoes, holding a drink in a plastic container. He just sat there, staring at the floor. For two, three minutes straight. Just staring. Not blinking.

Orton is at his best in the no-huddle when things are moving fast and coaches can’t overthink and get in his brain.

With 2:43 to go, he drove 77 yards, ending with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis. Orton moved around, saw what was developing and waited to throw.

Eleven seconds left. Bears up 20-19 after all that rotten play.

When you’ve built your team around defense and special teams, how can you lose when you’re kicking off with the lead and 11 seconds left?

The brain trust went to work. Smith called for a squib kick.

‘‘We felt a squib would be safe,’’ he said. ‘‘They would have time for one play.’’

No. Sense.

The Bears kicked short to avoid a long return. But didn’t they give the ball to the Falcons in the spot they feared the Falcons might return it to?

So the Falcons returned the kick to the 44, threw The Pass, then kicked a field goal.

‘‘Tough, tough,’’ Smith said. ‘‘I wish I could give you a couple more words to show you how really hard it is.’’

A few are coming to mind.

Related Blog Posts

Bears vs. Lions: Maybe Kyle Orton isn't that Bad

From ChiCity Sports Fanion

Breakdown of Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

From BearsBeat.com

The views expressed in these blog posts are those of the author and not of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Report item as: (required) X

Comment: (optional)

Report item as: (required) X

Comment: (optional)

User Image

da church of da coach wrote:

pselkins wrote:

"What I dislike is the second guessing, "heads need to roll" attitudes of people who don't seem to understand that this really is the nature of the game."

If this was the first time our defense snatched defeat from the jaws of victory I would agree with you. However, blowing 3 fourth quarter leads in 6 games ... Bob Babich is a terrible defensive coordinator. We went from a Super Bowl defense to a team that can't win with a lead and 11 seconds left in the game. PATHETIC.

10/13/2008 8:56 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

jasonh5843 wrote:

Unacceptable! Horrible strategy, horrible Bob Babich!

10/13/2008 8:36 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

jp wrote:

WHY are people still giving Orton a pass?

He's still only half the QB the Bears need. Sure, great drive at the END of the game, but where were those type of passes in the first half?

The touchdown pass was the best throw of his professional career but he should be throwing passes like that ALL THE TIME against GOOD teams.

If he wants to be the real-deal starting NFL quarterback, he has to be completing passes and driving the team down the field in EVERY quarter. What was the score at halftime again? Oh yeah - we only had three points, and not against a great team. Orton had overthrown and underthrown and just plain missed receivers.

Matt Ryan has played six professional games and he's already a better QB that Orton and Grossman combined. He realizes that, in the NFL, you have to get rid of the ball quickly. The fact that he's an accurate thrower and pretty smart doesn't hurt, either. Orton is still a half beat behind in his reads and in his ability to get rid of the ball FASTER.

Orton has gotten better, sure. And, thank god, we'll never see Grossman again. But how long are we gonna wait for Orton to keep climbing the learning curve, esp. for someone who's not elusive enough to buy time to throw and who's lack of mobility seriously narrows the play calling choices?

10/13/2008 8:07 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

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dan-valpo wrote:

tommy harris is still THE HEAD CASE ....

big contract no brain .. his fumble cost points.. game..

10/13/2008 7:56 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

enrico polazzo wrote:

KEEP HEARING PEOPLE SAY M.BROWN MESSED UP IN THAT FINAL PASSING PLAY ,BUT THAT WASNT HIS MISTAKE IT WAS THE CORNERS ERROR. MARCUS HAMILTON WHO WAS FILLING IN FOR TILLMAN DIDNT DEFEND THE SIDELINES. HE RAN UP INSTEAD OF DROPPING DEEP. THATS WHY M.BROWN HAD TO RUN TO MAKE THAT PLAY. THAT WAS A BLOWN ASSIGNMENT BY HAMILTON!!

10/13/2008 7:06 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

micdago wrote:

What do you call a "sports reporter" who makes one-word paragraphs of the word "Yuck"?

It starts with an "F" and ends with a "G."

10/13/2008 7:03 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

steve34 wrote:

I don't necessarily disagree with the "squib kick", but that had to be the worst squib kick I've ever seen. Allowing it to be picked up at the 35 and handing them great field position was ridiculous. Gould needed to hit a hard squib. Make them pick it up at least inside the 30. Or do one of those little pop-fly kicks for about 30 yards where your defenders can tackle them right away. Just another 5 yards and they don't have time for a deep out to set up the field goal.

10/13/2008 6:23 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

threespires wrote:

Let's be clear about this. The Superbowl defense was Ron Rivera's defense. The culprit is Babich and he must go! The defense plays with no passion and they blow assignments. They are voting with their feet, so should we

10/13/2008 6:13 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend

Report Abuse

User Image

pselkins wrote:

Greg, I think it's a conspiracy. Perhaps you can convince the US legislature to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.

A minute before my 9 and 6 year old sons were running through the house happily yelling "The Bears won!"

The next minute they were asking me "what happened?"

Sports was my answer. It's not over until it's over. After it's over, it's not wrong, or some kind of conspiracy if it doesn't end up the way we wanted it to. The excitement of it is that at any time it can turn for the better or worse.

I like that excitement, even when it works against me.

What I dislike is the second guessing, "heads need to roll" attitudes of people who don't seem to understand that this really is the nature of the game.

10/13/2008 6:03 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend (3)

Report Abuse

User Image

brian anderson wrote:

The Bears lost fair and square. There were no shennanigans with the clock like some have siad. I just got through watching the highligts on ESPN. The clock stopped and started when it should have. The Bears started celebrating before the game was over and they got burned. The squibb kick didn't help either.

10/13/2008 5:37 AM CDT on suntimes.com

Recommend (1)

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1 2 3 >> Last

Incredible....

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