8 to blame for Bears' losing streak
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org December 13, 2011 10:28PM
Who's to blame the most for the Bears' three-game losing streak? Flip through the gallery for the 8 biggest culprits.
Updated: May 9, 2012 10:06AM
Who’s to blame?
General manager Jerry Angelo heads the list of culprits for the Bears’ sudden demise this season.
Considering the Bears have fared much better in Angelo’s 11 seasons than the previous 11, he’s at least earned an objective evaluation of his culpability: It took a bad break to expose his flaw.
When Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers on Nov. 20 at Soldier Field, the Bears were 7-3 with a five-game winning streak and were arguably the biggest threat to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC. For all their faults, the Angelo-built, Lovie-guided Bears play the Packers as tough as anybody.
But when Johnny Knox slipped on that fateful play against San Diego — Antoine Cason intercepted and Cutler suffered a broken thumb trying to tackle him in the Bears’ 31-20 victory — the Bears’ outlook changed dramatically.
And while everybody has contributed to the Bears’ three-game losing streak, we know the root of the problem: backup quarterback Caleb Hanie’s inability to just keep his hands on the steering wheel and guide the Bears to victory in games any NFL backup should have won.
Angelo should have brought in a better backup. But he’s not the only GM walking a tightrope without a net. If Tom Brady goes down, the Patriots turn to Brian Hoyer, who has thrown 42 passes in 12 games in three years. And New England’s 32nd-ranked defense would be in the spotlight instead of resting comfortably in Brady’s shadow.
But, alas, Brady isn’t hurt.
Neither is Aaron Rodgers, whose absence would leave the Packers’ hopes in the hands of Matt Flynn (capable, but no Rodgers) and their 31st-ranked defense.
Nor is Drew Brees, whose absence would leave the Saints’ hopes in the hands of Chase Daniel and their 27th-ranked defense.
The Bears were due for some bad luck after their primrose path to the playoffs in 2010. But even the best teams in the NFL have a foundation built on good fortune as much as intuition and player evaluation. Ten of the 12 teams currently in playoff spots have started their No. 1 quarterback all season.
And the Broncos are contenders because they dumped their No. 1 quarterback. Only the 10-3 Texans, 3-0 since losing Matt Schaub, have withstood a Cutler-like injury.
And the great Bill Polian, an NFL-certified genius who built the Colts into perennial contenders and Super Bowl champions, fared no better than Angelo in replacing his No. 1 quarterback this season. Polian is a better judge of quarterbacks than Angelo — based solely on drafting Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf in 1998. But it’s looking more and more like Polian’s best attribute is putting together a really bad football team at the right time.
Polian probably will make the right choice again this time and stay a step ahead of Angelo. But let’s not forget there’s more to the equation than judging quarterbacks. Polian’s likely reward for a season far worse than anything Angelo has experienced is aptly named: Andrew Luck. CLICK HERE for the 8 biggest culprits in the Bears' three-game losing streak.