Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/14/11
A few days ago, my five year old son asked me why I liked the Chicago Bears. I felt like looking him in the eye and saying: "You know what son, I don't anymore. The way they have been playing recently has left me with a hole in my heart. We were gonna make the playoffs, son. And then stupid Jay Cutler went and got a boo boo on his thumb, and Matt 'I better get paid' Forte hurt his knee. Mike Martz still doesn't know what he's doing, and Marion Barber is a....."
That's not exactly what I said, and by this time my son was back watching Spongebob, and really didn't care why Daddy looked so sad. And I definitely didn't say anything about Marion Barber. Because, unlike almost everybody else in the entire universe, I feel no animosity towards Marion Barber. 

And here's why.

Unless I am correct, didn't Marion Barber score the Bears' only touchdown last Sunday against the Broncos? So, I would be right in thinking that we were only in the game because of Barber's contribution. A lot of people will tell you that what transpired later wiped out any good he might have done, but I disagree. Barber rushed for over 100 yards, averaging four yards per carry. And I thought it was third string back Kahlil Bell that was going to step up and have a great game, but it was Barber who emerged as the main threat on the day. Barber's score against Denver gave him 
six touchdowns for the year. And yes, I know that Barber is the main man in short yardage situations, but can I just point out that Matt Forte only has three rushing touchdowns this year. I'm just saying.

Despite all of this, Marion Barber finds himself the most hated man in Chicago right now. And I know fans can be passionate, and look for someone to blame, but football is a team game. If a team loses, everyone, to an extent, is to blame. 

Let's look at the issue that seems to be making everyone direct all their anger towards Barber. He ran out of bounds. He ran out of bounds when all he had to do was stay in bounds. The Bears would have likely ran so much time off the clock, it would have been unlikely that Denver could have made a comeback. This was a case of Barber just trying to hard. He was clearly trying to get an extra yard and this lead to him being forced out of bounds, and thus stopping the clock. But was this play designed to go to the outside? It kind of looks that way to me. If the Bears' coaching staff were so concerned about the running back staying in bounds, then just call a rush that goes straight ahead, eliminating the chance of Barber even getting close to the sideline. 

However, I will agree that Barber himself needs to be aware of the situation. He needs to know how much time is left on the clock, and needed to make sure that he stayed in bounds. But on any other day, he might have got past that last defender and stayed in bounds. People are talking like Barber ran out of bounds to avoid getting hit or something. If you looks at the video, you can clearly see that he thinks he can avoid getting tackled, but the defender gets there in time to force him out of bounds. Barber did not run out of bounds.

Not that Barber should need reminding, but we can only assume that the coaches, and to a lesser extent, the players reminded Barber of what needed to happen on that play. That is what the coaches get paid to do. I hope they didn't just throw everyone out there and forget to mention what was of paramount importance. And that was to stay in bounds. 

But that didn't happen. Barber ran out and opened the window for the Broncos to make their comeback. The Broncos kicked a long field goal and the game went to overtime.

And this brings us to part two of Marion Barber's forgettable day in Denver. The Bears had the ball to begin overtime, and found themselves close to field goal range. Hanie handed the ball off to Barber, who burst through the middle, and looked like he could even get to the goaline, when disaster struck. Wesley Woodyard stuck out an arm and the ball came loose. Denver recovered, Tim Tebow got the ball back, and blah, blah, blah, Tebow time, you know the rest. 

People seem to be hating Barber less for this mistake, claiming that it's football and stuff like this just happens. But, if I am upset with Barber at all, it is more for fumbling the ball than getting forced out of bounds earlier in the game. He had to cover that ball up. More than anything in the world, he had to make sure he held onto that ball like it was the most precious thing in the entire world. But that didn't happen. And now the Bears find themselves pretty much out of the playoff race. A loss to Seattle this week would surely seal their fate.

But you know what I think is the main reason we allowed the Broncos to come back into the game? 

For some unknown reason, the Bears and their ever so wise coaches decided to change their defensive scheme right at the end of the game. A scheme that had been working for about 56 minutes. The Bears had held Tebow in check for much of the game. He showed why people say he can't throw the ball. He looked awful, and he was well contained when running the ball as well. But, the decision was made to drop back into a cover two defense, and let Tebow play a little pitch can catch with his receivers. Broncos receivers were gaining good yardage and even managing to get out of bounds to stop the clock. In my book, this was unacceptable. Once again, Tebow comes out on top, looking like the second coming. If Chicago had stuck to the defense they had been playing for most of the game, this doesn't happen.

So, you see, football is a team game. Barber cannot be held totally responsible for the loss against Denver. The Bears have been pathetic on offense in the last three games, and if anything, Barber has been one of the few positives. When he was sat on the sidelines, you could see how bad he felt about everything. But Barber is a seven year veteran. A veteran that shouldn't have made those errors? Possibly. But a player that will have the strength to bounce back and show why he can still do good things for this football team.

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