As a fan, whether or not it is ever appropriate to boo the home team is a debate that has been raging since the beginning of sports. This past Sunday, Chicago Bears fans showed that they have no problem letting their team know exactly how they feel about the team losing five of its last six games. Boo birds were out in full force all day Sunday during the teams 21-13 loss to the rival Green Bay Packers. Some Bears players have taken offense to the boos, but if they watched the game from the perspective of a fan they might find themselves booing alongside the rest of the crowd.
When a playoff team gets the ball first and goal from the five yard line they come away with seven points. This is exactly what the Bears were unable to do on Sunday. They ran Matt Forte up the middle three times which got them four yards, and then threw a pass to Alshon Jeffery, which resulted in one of the rookies three offensive pass intereference penalties on the day. The drive resulted in a field goal, which prompted the Chicago crowd to give the team a piece of their mind.
What the players may not understand is that the source of the fan’s frustration after the goal line failure was the completely Bear-like and ridiculously uncreative play calling, which has plagued the offense all year. The predictable play calling is most likely what Brandon Marshall was referring to after the game when he talked about the same thing happening over and over again for the offense. It makes sense that Marshall would take exception to Mike Tice’s decisions given that he is the only player on the Bears offense who has produced consistently this season.
Mike Tice is not the only coach frustrating Bears fans this season. Lovie Smith and his questionable clock management have also spurred on many of the boos echoing through the pillars of Soldier Field. It is an all too familiar sight for Bears fans to see Jay Cutler clutching the ear-holes of his helmet as the play clock winds below five and angrily wasting a timeout because the play was not called in time. This does not seem like a big deal when it occurs, usually early in the half, but when the game comes down to the last possession and the Bears only have one timeout to stop the clock, it comes back to bite them.
Another part of clock management which Lovie Smith does not seem to have a great handle on is deciding what to do when the offense has the ball at the end of the first half. It should be a rather simple decision for the coach to make, they are either trying to get in position to score or they are running out the clock. Smith seems to be utterly unable to make this decision, which was evident in the asinine dump off pass to Matt Forte which ended the first half against Green Bay, and sent the Bears into the locker room amid a shower of boos.
Brian Urlacher was the first player to speak out about being booed at Soldier Field, and he even went as far as to say he doesn’t care about the fans. While I’m willing to give Urlacher a pass saying he doesn’t care about the fans, assuming he meant he doesn’t care about their opinions on the strategy of the game, however Urlacher should look to the big apple before he starts talking about being scrutinized.
It is a known fact that fans and media in New York City are the most harshly critical in all of sports. The New York Giants have been able to overcome rocky regular seasons and tons of fan criticisms over the past five years to the tune of two Super Bowl championships. Perhaps if the Bears took a page out of Eli and company’s book and were able to use the negative criticism as fuel to jump start their performance, they may be able to right the ship going forward.