Scheme vs. Execution: The Great 2008 Bears Debate

Yesterday, after the dust had wafted over the Bears' 21-14 loss to the still-somehow-undefeated Tennessee Titans, the ChicagoTribune's lead Bears analyst, the always on-point David Haugh, had some provocative quotes from Bears players hinting that they maybe, just maybe, didn't think the Bears scheme was properly managed Sunday.

Haugh posited that the Bears failed to make adjustments -- the positioning of cornerbacks in the red zone was a particular concern -- and squandered the stalwart run defense that served the Bears so well all day. Kerry Collins actually looked good at football. Yeah. We know. It was that bad.

So if it was Haugh's contention (and some of the Bears' players) that it the scheme wasn't working, Lovie Smith's didn't quite agree. To Lovie, the scheme, his patented speed-based Cover 2, was just fine. Instead, players just weren't making plays. Of course. Insert Lovie's droning monotone ... here:

''No players are questioning our scheme, and we're not going to change up the scheme,'' Smith said, scoffing at the suggestion that there were cracks in unity after the loss. ''They're football players; that's what we're going to play. They know that. They all have confidence in the scheme. You're disappointed when you don't play well, but none of our players is questioning our scheme.

''I've heard a lot about switching up schemes and different things like that. Our scheme is good. We have to execute better. We've had success with this defense, and we're not going to change up, but we'll always tweak it.''

Oooh. Somebody's a little ... defensive. Pun wholeheartedly intended.

Anyway, though this is truly a worthy ideological argument -- along the lines of Plato v. Xenophon, Tom Friedman vs. demonstrable geographical fact, or Shaq vs. Kobe -- I think we can scuttle the debate preemptively. Let's all agree that both sides are at fault. The scheme is a little too rigid. The cornerbacks and safetys aren't covering wide receivers very well. Combine those two things, and you get Kerry Collins going 30-for-41. That's something we can all detest equally.

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