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updated: 12/17/2012 1:05 AM

Enough is enough: Time to send Smith packing

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  • Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Maybe it was the play that finally gets Lovie Smith fired.

Beautiful Sunday afternoon. Soldier Field. Rivalry game. Division lead in the balance. Score tied late in the first half.

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Devin Hester runs a pass pattern. Jay Cutler makes the throw.

Green Bay intercepts, of course, and before halftime scores what eventually becomes the winning touchdown.

Forget everything else that happened: Officials' calls and non-calls, missed field goals by the Packers, lost opportunities at the goal line by the Bears, a bonehead punt-return gaffe by the Packers.

That one interception led to the Packers' 21-13 victory and summed up so much of what has been wrong with Smith's nearly nine full years as Bears head coach.

Hester's legs went one way. Cutler's arm went another way. The Bears' offense went the wrong way ... as usual.

Smith said: "Most times that you have an interception, you say you'd like to have a better pass, like to have a better route."

That sure clarified what happened. Let's just say that it looked like Cutler and Hester were on different pages of different playbooks.

Cutler might have made a bad decision: If so, why is a talented seven-year NFL veteran doing that at a critical point of a critical game?

Hester might have zigged when he was supposed to zag: If so, why is he still a wide receiver after so many similar mistakes?

Cutler and Hester might not have the right chemistry: If not, why not after four seasons together?

This is just a guess, but maybe Smith's coaching staff misjudged Hester and maybe it hasn't coached up Cutler.

For nearly all of a decade with Smith as head coach the Bears have wallowed among the bottom third of NFL offenses.

Smith came to the Bears from the defensive side of the ball but is responsible for all phases of the game. During Cutler's four seasons with the Bears the head coach personally gave him three different offensive coordinators.

Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice have tried unsuccessfully to get the most out of Cutler and the most out of the Bears' offense under Cutler.

The failures helped get general manager Jerry Angelo fired last off-season. Successor Phil Emery made a big move by acquiring a big receiver in an attempt to solve one of the offense's big problems.

Now, after only Game 14 of his time with the Bears, Brandon Marshall nearly was in tears.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "You can see it on my face right now. It's self-explanatory."

Earlier Marshall said something awfully thought provoking.

"Everyone on offense should be held accountable," he said, "even if that means jobs."

Presumably, Marshall referred to players -- from quarterback to receivers to running backs to linemen.

However, what about the coaches' jobs? Did Marshall vaguely mean the head coach's job, too?

If the Cutler-to-Hester misfire were the exception to the rule, well, it almost would be excusable.

But it's the rule. It's the norm for Cutler's four years and for Smith's nine. It's what the Bears' offense is and what they are.

"It's been that way all year," Marshall said. "There's no excuse. It's the same every single game."

Just about every single season, too.

No wonder the Bears have lost five of six games and threaten to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.

That should be enough to get a head coach fired.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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