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posted: 12/30/2012 6:00 AM

Bears have serious coach, QB questions

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  • Bears coach Lovie Smith looks down at the end of the game as quarterback Jay Cutler heads off the field in the 23-17 loss the the Seahawks at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      Bears coach Lovie Smith looks down at the end of the game as quarterback Jay Cutler heads off the field in the 23-17 loss the the Seahawks at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

It has probably always been true that the success of an NFL franchise is directly related to the success of the head coach and quarterback.

But it has never been more obvious than in the quarterback-driven league that has become the NFL in the last decade.

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No coach will succeed without a quarterback, no quarterback without a coach, and no franchise without both.

Is this a mystery?

Maybe in some NFL cities -- including Chicago -- but most owners seem to understand the formula.

Yet, here in Chicago, after nine years of head coach Lovie Smith, there are serious questions about whether he should remain the field boss. His antiquated formulas don't work on either side of the ball, and he is too stubborn to change.

As for Jay Cutler, the jury is very much out on whether he can ever reach the elite level in the NFL, but his contract expires after 2013 and the Bears have to figure out whether to give him a big-money extension.

It's fair to wonder how much better Cutler might be with an offensive mind running the show, but Smith backers might also wonder how many more wins Smith would have had he possessed a quarterback better equipped to handle adversity.

Either way, nine years into Smith in Chicago and seven years into Cutler's career, here we are asking serious questions about both men.

Gotta wonder if the answer isn't simply in the fact that you have to ask the question.

The numbers

Detroit's Matthew Stafford needs 305 yards passing against the Bears to become the first with back-to-back 5,000 yard seasons.

By the clock, however, Drew Brees will probably do it sooner because the Saints also play at noon, and Brees only needs only 219 yards.

Brees has the record with 5,476 (2011), Tom Brady is second with 5,235 (2011) and Dan Marino -- the first to break 5,000 -- is third with 5,084 (1984). Brees -- the first to do it twice -- also has the fourth spot on the list with 5,069 (2008), and Stafford is fifth with 5,038 (2011).

If you're keeping score, it had only been done once before 2008, and by 3:15 p.m. Sunday there will be seven seasons of 5,000-plus passing yards, five of them the last two years.

Is this a clue for Bears' brass?

Megatron

Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson needs 108 for 2,000 receiving yards in a single season, having already destroyed Jerry Rice's mark (1,848) set in 1995.

Johnson, who had just 3 catches for 34 yards against the Bears and Charles Tillman on Oct. 22, has done it even though the Lions have absolutely nothing else on offense.

Pretty amazing considering every opposing defense focuses strictly on Johnson.

Angel Pagan

Credit where it's due, it was former Cubs GM Jim Hendry who purchased center fielder Angel Pagan from the Mets in 2006 for next to nothing when Pagan had never played in the big leagues.

Yes, the same Angel Pagan who recently signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the world champion Giants. Pagan played in 148 games for the Cubs in 2006-07, but his time here was marked by injury and illness.

He might be best known in Chicago for getting thrown out at third trying to move up on a wild pitch, leading to Lou Piniella's cap-throwing, dirt-kicking, staged hysterics in June 2007.

Pagan has gone on to make a decent career for himself after finally getting healthy.

NFC best?

NFL Network's Michael Irvin: "I am tired of people not giving the Atlanta Falcons the props they deserve. They are still the team to beat in the NFC."

The vote

CBS Sports' Phil Simms: "If I had to take an MVP right now, I would take Adrian Peterson because this NFL is set up for the quarterbacks to have success throwing the football. You can't even practice any more with pads. You can't hit each other during the week. So it's amazing a running back could have the success that Peterson has had."

The quote

NFL Network's Deion Sanders: "The Houston Texans were exposed vs. New England and no one is scared of them anymore. Matt Schaub has no mobility. That is a problem."

The shot

TBS' Conan O'Brien: "According to the Census Bureau, white people will not be the majority in the United States by the year 2043. So this is even more bad news for the National Hockey League."

Mettle stand

Comedian Alex Kaseberg: "A great Wisconsin runner who made three Olympic teams, Suzy Favor Hamilton, has admitted she was working as a Las Vegas escort. From Olympian to prostitute. This hasn't happened since, well, Bruce Jenner."

Best headline

Sportspickle.com: "Chargers find out clerical error caused Norv Turner to continue receiving paycheck last three years."

And finally

NBC's Jay Leno: "Tim Tebow and actress Camilla Belle have called it quits. It just didn't work out. Kind of like Tebow and the quarterbacking thing."

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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