Five Plays That Defined the Season

| January 4th, 2010

Talk around the league is that Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo have slammed the vault door and begun their evaluation of the 2009 Chicago Bears.  To understand the disaster that was this deceptively terrible 7-9 campaign, one needs only look to five distinct plays.

#5 Brian Urlacher Shatters Wrist
I was wrong and have admitted it since.  I thought Brian Urlacher’s injury would have little effect on a defense that should be able to keep us in every game.  But the loss of #54 proved more and more debilitating as the middle of the field was not covered on a single play all season.  Teams exploited the deep zone and slaughtered us on quick slants.  The Cover-2 shell requires three things: pressure from the front four, a ball-hawking safety and a roaming middle man.  The Bears had none of the three in 2009.
#4 Orlando Pace False Start
The Bears had a chance to beat the Falcons in Atlanta but Orlando Pace’s momentum-destroying false start killed a drive and the team never recovered.  The Bears were not only penalized a lot but they were penalized at the most awkward moments.  None was worse than this.
#3 Tommie Harris’ Face Punch
The Bears had no chance to beat the Arizona Cardinals.  They were outclassed and outmanned from whistle to whistle.  But on the first drive from scrimmage, the Bears actually looked poised for a strong defensive effort.  Then Harris – the jerk of all jerks – dropped a right hook and sucker-punched the Bears into one of the most lifeless performances in the history of the organization.

#2 Cutler’s Final Interception in San Francisco

The season ended that night in San Francisco as a defeated Cutty tossed a terrible pick to safety Michael Lewis as the clock expired.  It was the saddest night of a sad season.
#1 The Audible From the Long Snapper      
It was the perfect storm.  Stupidity and poor execution at the worst possible moment.  We should have known what the 2009 season was going to be as Pat Mannelly decided that a fake punt was the right call at crunch time in Packerland.  If Lovie Smith were fired right then and there, on the field, during the game, would anyone have complained?