The First Must-Win Game of 2010

| October 19th, 2010

I’d imagine the columns have already been written, saved under “Fire Lovie” on the laptop computers of David Haugh, Rick Telander and Steve Rosenbloom.  They contain the phrases that have filled beat pages and blog posts since 2004: poor clock management, wasted timeouts, poor talent recognition, little accountability, offensive incoherence…etc.  I’m sure a few of the finest in Chicago sports media thought those columns might have to wait another year (or two) until they found the Monday morning eyes of commuting businessmen, circling the Loop, wondering what went wrong the previous day on the lakefront.  

Maybe not.
If the Chicago Bears lose to the Washington Redskins Sunday, favored again, at home again, in front of a hostile crowd, the building anticipation of the 2010 season may become nothing more than waiting out the inconsistent and oft-disappointing tenure of Lovie Smith.  I say “oft-disappointing” because to call the tenure entirely disappointing would be unfair to a coach with two division titles and a Super Bowl appearance.  (For entirely disappointing see: Wannstedt, Dave.)
A loss would send the Bears to 4-3 and send them into a fourteen-day hiatus from playing football.  When you lose going into a bye week, especially in Chicago, everything gets scrutinized.  A loss would mean the Bears, quite frankly, are just holding onto a buoy in the ocean, waiting for the shark known as the Minnesota Vikings to chew off their lower halves.  (The Vikings have lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.)
A win might not be reason to book an early-February hotel room in Dallas but it would be serious reason for joy.  5-2 and a bye week before a de facto home game against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto?  That has to be 6-2.  And that means ten wins is only a .500 second half away.  When people call games “must wins” they are usually wrong.  In this case, it’s 100% accurate.  The Bears must beat the Redskins Sunday.  The remainder of the 2010 campaign and the head coach’s future may very well depend on it.