Losses put Bears, Lovie Smith in must-win situation
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Twitter: @AdamJahns December 10, 2012 3:04PM
Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 21-14. (AP Photo/Andy King)
Updated: December 10, 2012 5:39PM
With the Bears losing four of their last five games and their 7-1 start now a distant memory, Lovie Smith’s future came into question Monday at Halas Hall. And he said he knows it’s tied to wins and losses.
“I think everyday I’ve been here, each day I think, all of us come to work [and] we’re going to do the best job that we possibly can,” Smith said a day after losing to the Minnesota Vikings 21-14 at the Metrodome. “All of our futures are tied. It’s all based on wins and losses really, and I’m OK with that.”
It was several weeks ago that there were talks about Smith being in line for another contract extension. The Bears had a six-game winning streak, the defense was putting points on the board with an endless amount of game-changing plays and the offense was evolving behind quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall.
Now, that seems like a very long time ago.
The takeaways are no longer coming in bunches, the injuries keep adding up on both sides of the ball and the offense follows every step forward with three steps backward.
“Our six-game winning streak earlier can’t help us right now an awful lot,” Smith said. “Us losing three of the last four or whatever it’s been can’t help us an awful lot. It’s just concentrating on looking at the situation that’s in front of us right now. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Smith conceded that the NFC North is no longer in their control. The Green Bay Packers can clinch the division with a win at Soldier Field this week, while the Bears need to win and then receive some help. Similar to the Bears, the Packers fell behind the Detroit Lions 14-0 on Sunday, but they were able to rally for a 27-20 victory.
“The pressure we’re feeling right now is on our performances,” Smith said. “Improving, it’s on us. We talked about someone else controlling the division, but what happens to us, it doesn’t’ really matter about really the teams ahead of us or the teams behind us right now.
“It’s just what we do. …We have the Packers coming in and that’s enough right there for all of our thoughts to just go on them.”
Smith said the Bears control their own playoff fate, but that also will change if they lose to the Packers. They’ll be forced to pay closer attention to what the Washington Redskins and others are doing.
“We put our backs against the wall,” receiver Brandon Marshall said.
The Bears say they feel confident, but also that the frustrations are mounting.
“Ultimately, we have to come out and play better,” safety Chris Conte said. “As a team, we have to go back to practice, work hard, be angry and come back and take it out on Green Bay.”