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Category: football

That was the Week: August 24th through August 30th 2015

Monday I stayed home sick with a really bad sinus or pressure headache. It took almost all day for the headache to subside.  Pills did nothing.  Sadly, the headache ruined what turned out to be an almost perfect day weather wise. The temperature stayed in the mid seventies and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

On Thursday my recent string of being near important people continued. This time I helped run a meeting attended by Timothy Killeen (or as I now know he goes by Tim) the current president of the University of Illinois. I will not here discuss the rather sad state of my Alma Mater. I hope he can get things going in the right direction.

Friday came and the bizarre times at the University of Illinois continued. With one week until the start of the Football season, the campus was shocked.. and overjoyed by the news that Football Coach Tim Beckman had been fired for cause.  I have written previously about Coach Beckman.  The TLDR version is that he is a terrible coach and needed to go away if Illini football would ever be successful. Sometimes you have to strip a car down to its frame to rebuild it and that seems to be where we are with many things about the University of Illinois. Heck that pretty much applies to the entire state. The big question being asked now is if the athletic director Mike Thomas will be the one to hire the new coach or if his butt will be out the door soon as well.

The highlight from Saturday was watching an amazing movie. I had heard some talk about and seen a few commercials for Ex Machina.  Even though people told me it was good I think the commercials turned me off.  Watch below:

The commercial makes it looks much more horror themed than it is.  I turned it on expecting to watch it form maybe twenty minutes and then to head off to do something else. From almost the very start I sat mesmerized. It captured my interest immediately with the beauty of the film making. The framing of the shots is compelling, the sound is prefect, and the dialogue intriguing.  The movie challenges your mind. It is very cerebral.  You will be thinking about big ideas from the very beginning to hours after the film has finished. There came a specific point in the movie, I won’t spoil it, in which one of the characters thought they exact same thing I did. At that moment I realized how  brilliant the movie was.

Later that day I watched the Chicago Bears look really bad in a preseason game. It’s going to be a long year for Bears fans.

Great Squirrel war 2015 Update:

It would usually be a happy thing for me to report that the squirrels have left my tomatoes alone.  I have realized this week why the squirrels have been so compliant. No they aren’t dead. My tomato plants are dying. A few days after the squirrels destroyed my two nice tomatoes, I forgot to water the plants for a couple of days. I was out of town. When I came back they were all wilted. I watered them and they perked back up.  Over the next week or so I noticed that leaves started to die off. I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it was just a reaction to not getting water for a couple of days. More and more leaves died.  Then the flowers started drying up without producing fruit. Finally after a couple of weeks of this I took a long look at the plants. I noticed yellow spots all over the dying leaves. My plants have some sort of blight or mildew killing them.  I pulled off as many of the infected leaves and stems that I could. It left one of the plants almost stripped bare. The tomatoes that were already growing stopped at whatever size they had been. I am waiting for the last few tiny things to ripen then I will probably just pull out the worst plant. Today I did notice one blooming flower on the lessor blighted plant. Maybe there is some hope.

Lovie Smith’s Ten Biggest mistakes as Bears Head coach

Warning today’s post is about Chicago Bears football. It’s my blog I’ll write about whatever I want.

Today, Sunday November the 23rd, Lovie Smith will return to Soldier Field in Chicago where he coached for nine seasons. With his return I’ve noticed some mythologizing going on.  There seems to be a general trend of turning what Lovie was, a good and solid coach, into a great coach. People seem to forgot how strong the calls for his firing were back in 2010 and how much general criticism he received.
So I am going to list off what I consider the top ten mistakes Lovie made, from least to greatest. 

#10 Trading Thomas Jones

I put this at number ten because this may have mostly been a Jerry Angelo call. Thomas Jones’ successful running was taking precious playing time away from fourth overall pick Cedrick “Bust” Benson.  As his nickname implies, Cedrick “Bust” Benson was a complete bust with the Chicago Bears. He went on to have a minor blip of success for the Bengals, but has been out of the league for years. 

#9 Hiring Ron Turner

This one might just be a personal issue with me. I’ve never liked Ron Turner being hired. He seems to be a classic example of someone elevated just above their competency level. I didn’t like when I ran the Bears offense the first time, I didn’t like him being the head coach of the Fighting Illini and I didn’t like him during his return stint with the Bears. He was the most successful offensive coordinator Lovie had but that aint saying much.

#8 Devon Hester as a wide Receiver

Devon Hester had an electric start to his career on his way to becoming the most prolific returner in NFL history. Wanting to maximize on Devon’s abilities Lovie moved him from returner only to wide receiver.  The goal was to have him get is hands on the ball a lot more.  It never did really pan out.  Devon was a mediocre wide receiver and his return ability suffered. What success he had came on bubble screens. He seemed incapable of accurately running routes. 

#7 Signing Jonathan Quinn

I am a bears fan, this means I’ve seen a lot of bad quarterbacks in my time. Henry Burris, Rick Mirer and several others have bumbled their way around the Soldier Field turf. But the worst I’ve ever seen was Jonathan Quinn.  New Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea was bringing an exciting and different offense to Chicago.  He demanded a competent backup who knew the system in case Grossman got hurt… again. Shea sold everybody on Jonathan Quinn, a fourth year player that had rarely seen the field. It quickly became obvious why he hadn’t been playing. Quinn didn’t seem to know the basic rules of football. He didn’t seem to have clue what plays were called. He would fall back look around confused as if he had never seen a football field before and then get sacked by large men.

#6 Not Retaining Ron Rivera

Awash with new power, and some might say hubris, after taking the Bears to the Super Bowl, Lovie decided to flex his muscle. Rivera was given many accolades for the Bears effective defense.  He was so highly regarded that he interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Whether Lovie felt threatened by Rivera or he really just wanted to take control of the defense himself, Lovie hired his yes man friend Bob Babbich as defensive coordinator. All the time telling people to “trust me”.

#5  Signing Adam Archuleta

To secure the success of his friend, Lovie signed safety Adam Archuleta to a three year contract. Archuleta had been a very good player in his prime, but most NFL observers said he was past it and had lost a step, or two, or three. Lovie, ever loyal to his friends, rewarded Archuleta. Archuleta was horrible and ended up being benched not long into the season.

#4 Hiring Mike Martz

 At the end of the 2009 campaign after three seasons of missing the playoffs, the calls for Lovie to be fired where thunderous.  Many fans thought it was a sure thing.  Somehow Lovie convinced the Bears to keep him but fire the entire offensive coaching staff.  So Lovie was looking for his third O coordinator and also a defensive coordinator since we would no longer be allowed to call his own defensive plays. Lovie targeted some big names to be the new coordinators. There was one problem though.  Everybody knew Lovie was on the hottest of hot seats and it was playoffs or unemployment in the coming year. Who would want to take a job with a high chance of losing it in only one year. That doesn’t look good on your resume.  So after over a month, Lovie finally called up his old buddy Mike Martz and offered him the job. Lovie initially rebuffed Martz and wanted to look elsewhere.  Best of all, after specifically saying that d-line coach Rod Marinelli would not be considered for the d coordinator position, Lovie hired Marinelli because no one else would take the job.

#3 Hiring Mike Tice

Beginning to sense a theme? After the 2011 season Mike Martz was forced to resign because of “philosophical differences” with Lovie. The “differences” being that once again Lovie was in the desperately trying to save my job mode. A new sheriff, general manager, was in town and Lovie could hear the gallows being built. Once again Lovie was faced with the problem of trying to find a qualified candidate with the sword of unemployment hanging over every bodies head. This time Lovie didn’t bother with the embarrassing month long search and named Mike Tice, who was the offensive line coach, as the new O coordinator.  Tice was horrid and Lovie was fired a year later.

#2 Not cooperating with the media

Lovie was known in Chicago for  having a tense and acrimonious relationship with the media. He provided little access except for the required press conferences and those were usually filled with terse responses. You could sense the contempt for the media members in his face and body language. I get it. The Chicago sports media can be very tough and I find most of them unlikable. But your relationship with the media is your relationship to the fans. I have heard that member of the bears organization encouraged and explained to Lovie that he needed to be amicable to the media to win the fans.  My guess is Lovie didn’t care. As long as he had the locker room, it didn’t bother him what the fans thought of him. He came off as arrogant rude and condescending.  Fans had trouble understanding how much the locker room loved him. Even during success, fans tended to have a overall negative opinion of Lovie. 

#1 Hiring Terry Shea(Never figuring out the offense)

 For his first year as coach Lovie wanted to have a dynamic offensive attack like the one that led the Rams to win the superb owl.  He tried to get his friend Mike Martz, but that marriage made in hades would have to wait for several years.  Unable to hire Martz, Lovie moved on to hire quarterback guru, offensive genius, and moron Terry Shea. Terry Shea made the previous offense under John Shoop look high powered. Shea was horrible at every aspect of the game. He even manage to mess up public relations when he absurdly gave himself B.  It was not just that the Bears had the 32nd ranked offense that year, it was 32nd by a large margin. They had over 500 yards of offense less for the season than the 31st ranked team.  The Bears fired Shea after his one terrible season. Lovie never did figure out the offense in his time in Chicago. The one season they managed to have a the 15th ranked offense they went to the Super Bowl. If he could have just maintained an average offense, he would have had much greater success.

As I said at the beginning, I do believe that Lovie was largely a solid and good coach who got the most out of many of his players.  I think most of the failures under his regime should really be placed at the feet of general manager Jerry Angelo. If I wanted to do Angelo’s greatest mistakes there would be more than ten.

#Honorable Mention “Rex is our Quarterback”

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