Blame game

With playoffs on the line, Bears fall flat. Is it time to point fingers?

December 18, 2011|RedEye

Sorry, but even if the Bears still are technically in the playoff hunt, it's time to start thinking about 2012.

Sunday's 38-14 loss to Seattle at Soldier Field proved that this team, missing quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte, has played its best football of the season.

"A total disappointment," coach Lovie Smith said afterward. "We had five turnovers. You can't win with five turnovers, simple as that. We never got anything going with our running game ... it's tough when you're in that position."

Now, on to next season. What might change? Who might receive their walking papers? Even players under contract aren't safe in the NFL, where deals are not guaranteed like they are in other sports.

So, with not much to look forward to this season, here are some Bears that might need to revert to backup plans for 2012. Get it, backup plans? Sorry.

Caleb Hanie

The quarterback that nearly brought the Bears back from the dead in the NFC Championship against Green Bay in January has done nothing but hurt himself since taking over for the injured Jay Cutler this season. He's made bad decisions and even worse throws. Certainly—CERTAINLY—Bears management has learned the importance of a solid, proven backup quarterback. Right?

Marion Barber

Marion the Barbarian looked more like Marion the Librarian at times this season, and his game-altering failure to stay in bounds then fumbling in overtime at Denver on Dec. 11 might have destroyed any real chance he has at establishing himself in a Bears uniform.

Roy Williams

Like Barber, Williams is a former Cowboy—and he might be a former Bear soon too. Williams never meshed with the Bears offense, and his frequent dropped passes are too numerous to ignore. It's safe to say Cutler could not depend on him—and neither can the Bears. We'll drop Roy, thanks.

Mike Martz

The offensive coordinator has already been linked to coaching jobs available in college, but he has denied them. Maybe he should consider them after all. The play-calling of the offensive "genius" has been seriously suspect at times this season. For example, when Cutler went down, Forte should have been the focus of the offense. Instead, it seemed the Bears relied on the pass even more. And let's not forget all those zero-yardage screen passes.

Jerry Angelo

Ultimately, however, perhaps the man most responsible for the makeup of the 2011 Bears should take the fall. We're talking about general manager Jerry Angelo. Sure, he's responsible for bringing in studs like Julius Peppers, Cutler and Forte, but he's also the man that can't seem to figure out a way to build an offensive line to protect the quarterback or draft more than one or two decent players in any given decade.

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