Reasons To Curb Enthusiasm…a little

| October 12th, 2010

I can live with this collection of skill players.  The safety position has been remarkably solid.  The corners, especially Peanut Tillman, have played well.  The linebackers are brilliant.  Julius Peppers is just about the best defensive player in the game right now.  So why aren’t the people covering and cheering on the Chicago Bears going through the roof about their 4-1 start to the season?  Why aren’t fans cheering on two division and four conference victories in the first five games?  Why aren’t we all reveling about the prospect of a 7-1 start to the year?  What does Mike Florio mean when he says, “Reality will eventually catch up with this team.” 

Here are three things the Bears most focus on before encountering the far-more-difficult second half of their season.
The Offensive Line
Anybody else like what they saw from the right side of the line Sunday?  Would anyone fault Mike Tice for giving Edwin Williams and J’Marcus Webb another shot against the Seahawks?  
People who know more about football than me continue to tell me that the key to good offensive line play is continuity, knowing what the guy next to you is going to do before he does it.  If Chris Williams is ready to go on Sunday, I’d like to see him back starting at left tackle and leave Frank Omiyale as the odd man out, swinging in as the new sixth man.  
Whatever the decisions are, they need to be made.  The Reverend, in last week’s great rant, accused the Bears coaches of approaching the o-line like it’s a hockey game.  He’s right.  We need to identify the five best guys and give them five or six weeks to work together.  That needs to start before the Bears face the Minnesota defensive line in four games.    

Lovie Smith’s Decisions
There’s a lot to commend Lovie Smith for through five weeks.  His coaching hires have been excellent.  His new perform-or-cut approach is leading to inspired game day performances.  But the repeated goes on fourth-and-one at the goal line and a stubborn refusal to remove Todd Collins from Sunday’s game are the kinds of decisions that keep a team from winning championships.  I have never believed Lovie Smith is a Super Bowl winning coach.  But he’s showing signs that he may become one.

Jay Cutler, Mike Martz
The development of the Cutler/Martz relationship may be dependent upon the ability of the offensive line to block but it also has to have been damaged by Martz’ sacrificial lamb act in the Meadowlands.  Offensive coordinators don’t apologize the way Martz did a week ago.  He seemed disappointed in himself.  And I liked seeing it.   

I also may be over-psychoanalyzing this situation but I believe Martz needs to re-earn Cutler’s confidence.  Short routes.  Roll-outs.  Bootlegs.  Perhaps relying on this newfangled run game.  Cutler needs to go a game or two without hitting the ground with his brain.  There’s no other choice.  And it’s up Martz to make it happen.

The Bears are 4-1.  The playoffs are in view.  Winning in the playoffs is possible.  They have twelve weeks to be better.