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To Coach or Not To Coach...That is The Question

By: Greill Kupicky

Last week, I gave a breakdown of the Bears team player by player, position and position, both on the offense and the defense. I did touch ever so slightly on the Bears coaching staff, but I did not go into great detail. With that in mind, this week, I decided to give a breakdown of the coaching staff. But why would I do that? Who cares about the coaching, it is the players who make a great team, right? Wrong.

The players are 1/3 of an equation of what makes a team a contender in the NFL. The other 2/3’s are management, and coaching. Management is probably the most important, but the most underappreciated element. Management builds the team from top to bottom, along with the hiring of all the staff. They have to keep their heads on a swivel to see what is working, and what is not. They have to keep track of salary caps, pricing, player behavior, coach behavior, team needs, player needs, drafts, free agency, keeping guys on the team happy, league rules being followed, and much, much more. If you ever want to get a smidge of an idea of what their job is like, play a Madden game sometime, and make sure you do the team management part of the game. Whew!!!

Players in the NFL are all great, or they wouldn’t be there. Whether a guy is a Hall of Famer, or a bust, it can come down to several reasons. He could be a bust due to off the field issues such as crime, bad associations, or drug problems. Management has to decide to keep that guy around or to cut him loose…i.e. Tank Johnson. That hurt.

Another reason could be that the guy is unhappy with his contract. You might ask how a guy could be unhappy with being a millionaire, but put yourself in their shoes. I think mostly, it is their ego…"I am better than that guy, why is he making more than me?"

Along with that fact, players have a short career; the average is like 5 years or something like that. Injuries can happen, a better guy coming along can happen, or any one of a number of things can happen. That means he has 5 years to make as much money as he can. For some of these guys from poverty situations, this is a once in a lifetime chance. They won’t likely be a doctor or a liar, many of them do not have the oral communication skills to commentate, nor do they have the ability to coach, so they have to make their money as a player. I am not condoning greedy players who irritate all of us, I am just saying that between their desperation to make as much money as possible as quickly as they can, and their ego, it is a nightmare for management to keep up.

Finally, as far as players go, chemistry is everything. A guy might be a star on one team, and a joke on the next, or vice versa. Remember Wilber Marshall? He was a star for the Bears because he had good chemistry with other players and the coaches. But he was a bust for the skins because he had bad chemistry with all of them; it was the wrong system for that particular player. A good example for the other side of that fence is every Bears fan’s favorite player Brett Favre. When he was with Atlanta, he was a nothing. Then when Holmgren brought him to Gain Green, he thrived. Why? Chemistry, that’s why.

Now, let’s move on to the other 1/3 of the equation, coaching. Angelo came to the Bears from Tampa with a plan. Only one thing stood between him and his plan…Dick Jauronsted. He knew from the get-go that Jauron was not going to fit within his plan for the team, but because Jauron won 13 games, he was stuck with him…for the moment. He bided his time, and eventually got his guy in there. The NFL is not the only place this happens. It happens every day in the business world. A guy takes over a company and cleans house, putting his team in place. Well, it is the same on an NFL team. Have you ever noticed how coaches bring in “their” staff?

The problem with that is that sometimes coaches are loyal to a fault. Until Babich came to the team, I always admired how Lovie Smith would fire a guy who wasn’t producing results…whether it was a player or a member of the coaching staff. Lately, I have seen him become a “loyal to a fault” type of coach, and I think he should reconsider that philosophy. The right coaching staff (or member of a staff) will get the most out of his players, and is a chess player. The wrong coaching staff (or member of a coaching staff) will have a lot of talent on their team, and not get results. Further, they will make bone-headed coaching decisions that may or may not cost the team a game or games. Babich is one of Lovie's guys, but he needs to tell him to hit the bricks.

Everyone makes mistakes, and you would be a complete jerk of a fan to not to allow a bad coaching decision from time to time; afterall, we are all human. I am speaking more of complete idiocy than I am a simple mistake, or being too aggressive at the wrong time. I like aggressive mistakes. You live by the sword and die by the sword in my ideal playbook, just don’t make the same mistakes over and over, and understand what you did wrong and correct it at half time. If I had one critique that the Bears coaching staff would listen to me about, I would tell them to make better half time adjustments. The Cover 2 is a good defense, but if you are doing something that isn’t working in the first half, wouldn’t you adjust? This coaching staff seems to stick to a game plan no matter what is happening, and I hate it.

Here is my coach by coach assessment of the Bears coaching staff. I will say before you read that overall I am pleased with the staff as a whole and feel lucky that we have them coaching our team. Go Bears!

Lovie Smith: Coach Smith is a double edged sword. I like his calm demeanor, but I would love to see some real emotion on the sidelines. I would like to see him be more inspirational and more animated. His calm demeanor is a positive and a negative. The positives are that you will never see Coach Smith "sweat under pressure." On the flip side, he never seems to be that Coach who fights for his players on the field. He is a good man, but this is not a popularity contest. He was hired to lead us to victories and a championship. He has given the Bears Division titles and a Super Bowl loss. If he allows Coach Turner to take the handcuffs off of the offense the Bears could be a top 10 offense in the NFL, but until Coach Smith joins the 21st century offensively, the Bears will not live up to the fan base hype and expectations.

Ron Turner: Coach Turner has an impressive resume, and is one of the better offensive minds in the game. He has done an admirable job with having lack luster talent at the quarterback position. He has had little to no talent at the wide receiver position and has gotten what he could out of them. Now that we have Cutler, there are no more excuses about needing a reliable signal caller. If Coach Turner is allowed to “open up the playbook," we could be in for a real treat offensively.

Bob Babich: Coach Babich is out of his element being the Defensive Coordinator, or even a coach at the NFL level in my humble opinion. This coach inspires no confidence, and he seems lost as to the “what to-do’s on any given down. He is so unqualified, in my humble opinion, that if I were playing, I would not even follow this coach to a Dairy Queen, even if I had a coupon for a free cone. An example is in the Atlanta game last year when the Bears gave up a 25 yard pass because they were in the passive, reactive, sit and wait cover 2? The Prevent prevents nothing!!! We lost that game because we had no leadership at the Defensive Coordinator position, and I really believe the players do not respect his knowledge or coaching ability. Until Coach Smith demotes him, or turns him into the invisible man, this defense will never reach it's full potential.

Dave Toub: Coach Toub is one of the best special teams coaches in the game. He consistently has the Bears near the league leaders in all the Special Teams categories that matter. He has been blessed with Hester and Manning returning kicks, and has put both of them in positions to return for scores on a consistent basis. He has two of the better kickers in the game, and he has all of the Special Teams units playing at a level above everyone else. Coach Toub is worth evey dime they pay him, and worth his weight in gold to the Bears.
Pep Wilson: Coach Wilson has done an admirable job so far. Now he has a Pro Bowl quarterback to work with, which will make his job look, and be, a lot easier. All he has to do is work primarily with the backups and groom one of them to hold the clip board for the season (please don’t let him get injured God). Coach Wilson’s work with Cutler will be more on his technique and his footwork, not so much with his performance. Cutler has the ability to make all the throws, all we need from Coach Wilson is to keep him focused and on point.

Darryl Drake: Coach Drake has the hardest job as far as position coaches go. He has some talent, but most is very young and inexperienced, so he has his hands full. He can develop this talent with the help of having a QB who can make everyone around him look better. If he can get these young men to raise their level of play, and their confidence, this coach could be pleasant surprise.

Harry Hiestand: With the infusion of new, very experienced players, this coach should be a very solid. If Coach Hiestand can get this unit to play to their talent level, and they stay healthy, we will see a very tough group that will produce holes for the run game, and keep Cutler from being killed.

Rob Marinelli: Yeah!!!!! Having Coach Marinelli handle the defensive line is a true blessing. He has been one of the best at this position for years. He will get maximum production from all positions across the front. He will motivate and coach these guys to the absolute maximum of their full potential (young and old). His players will undoubtedly play full throttle all game long, and produce. Believe me when I say, this is going to be fun to watch.

Jon Hoke: Coach Hoke has good talent in the defensive backfield and should continue to develop the younger guys who really need to contribute more. He needs to coach these guys to keep their mistakes to a minimum, and produce at a maximum. Love loves picks, and they better produce them or Hoke will be joining some of my friends in the Unemployment line. Last year, at least three of the Bears losses fell on to the defensive backfield (that includes the safeties). To be very honest, they sucked. However, with our experience at safety and corner this year, and if Hoke does his part, the Bears should be at, or near the top, in takeaways in the league.


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