For a change, Smith honest about Bears' play
CHICAGO — “Remain calm. All is well.”
No matter what happens with the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith acts like the Kevin Bacon character in “Animal House.” Except he truly remains as calm as his words.
So it was refreshing Saturday night, after another dispiriting preseason loss, to hear the Bears coach admit all is not well in Bearland.
It started when people struggled to turn off a TV in the background before his postgame news conference.
“This is how it goes when you are 0-3, I guess,” Smith said.
It continued when he talked about his team.
“We’re not playing good enough football right now. It’s kind of as simple as that,” he said.
It grew even more surprisingly honest when he criticized the offensive line. Jay Cutler has been sacked 10 times in the equivalent of one full game, so the line’s faults are obvious. But until Saturday’s 14-9 loss to Arizona, both Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Martz had steadfastly insisted the line would be fine.
“The pressure, we talked about the same thing last week. We have to do something about that,” Smith said. “Jay is under too much pressure. It’s kind of as simple as that.”
Smith even took away a crutch a questioner threw up by saying Chicago’s struggles had nothing to do with trying not to give away any trade secrets in the preseason.
“That has nothing to do with what I’m talking about, blocking, tackling, those kinds of things,” Smith said. “We should be playing better ball with some of the basic fundamentals of football.”
As Smith said twice before: It sounds simple. Except it’s not that simple. Nothing negative ever is with Lovie Smith.
Back to “Animal House” for a second. Remember how the preppies couldn’t do that to their pledges. Only they could do that to their pledges. Well, apparently only Lovie can say the Bears aren’t good enough.
When another reporter asked Smith if the Bears’ preseason struggles have affected their confidence, Lovie quickly shot him down.
“You have to hold on a second here,” Smith said. “This is preseason. ... It’s a glorified practice.”
Now that’s the Lovie we all know, the Lovie who never promises change because he doesn’t acknowledge a need to change.
His players are a mix of these two Lovies. They admit how wrong things have gone and how much they need to change, but they also say it means nothing yet.
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be, and we have to get there fast,” veteran center Olin Kreutz said.
“There’s always enough time. You can look horrible all preseason and come out Week 1 and look great and everything is forgotten.
“But that was the way we looked at it last week. That’s the way we looked at it the week before. How we perform against Detroit is obviously the final exam, but we’re not going to make excuses for (Saturday night).”
The Lions, 2-30 the past two years, aren’t the final exam. Chicago gets 15 tests after that. Smith talked about how the Bears were just a few plays away from beating the Cardinals, but couldn’t finish plays at critical times.
“We don’t like where we are right now, but we still have time to get there,” Smith said.
Time is running out. And the Bears need to find answers that work not only against the lowly Lions, but also against heavyweights such as the Packers, Vikings, Patriots and Jets.
The preseason is no time to panic. But it’s also no time to say all is well. Because it’s not. And the sooner the Bears see that, the sooner they can do something about it. Smith sounds like he sees that. Now let’s see what he does about it.
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at email@example.com or 815-987-1383.