UPDATE [2007-11-11 4:37:18 by Al]: You can use this diary for game discussion, too. Gametime: 3:15 pm CT.
The teams in this game have a 3% chance of making the playoffs. Combined. This is not exactly an important game. But today is an exceedingly slow day, so... I present the Keys To Victory!
Ignore the coach. Lane Kiffin wants to kick to Hester. This is what we in the analysis business call a "bad idea." Kiflin likes his coverage teams, he says. Well guess what, Kiffy - Hitler liked his Panzer brigades; invading Russia still a bad idea. Napoleon liked his in his Armée du Nord; Waterloo was a bad idea. You get the idea.
Keep the offense on the field. The Bears D has shown that it can play for three quarters, and that's about it. The Bears are a better run defense than pass defense, but neither is particularly good. Just be patient, make your first downs, bid your time. You will then be able to score at will during the fourth quarter - all without stealing signs!
Let them run. The Bears like to run. The Bears suck at running. So don't do something stupid like load the box - let them ineffectually run the ball.
Stop running the ball. Memo to Lovie Smith - if the Bears' idenity is a running team, then this is a case of identity theft. The Bears can run the ball about as well as FDR could right now. Maybe Benson is overrated. Maybe the line is old. Maybe I really don't care - stop running the ball> This is a passing team.
Pass the ball. This is the counterpart to the first Key. Now, I know, the Bears are passing the ball, but with no real sense of comitment to it. Listen to me, Ron Turner: nobody believes the play action anymore. Haven't you noticed that teams are assigning cripples and Hobbits to run defense at this point? Stop with the games and try protecting the quarterback.
Find some manhood and give it to Ron Turner. Turner calls plays like he's afraid of losing - or at least afraid of the press blaming him for a critical failure. Well, guess what, Ron Turner. The Bears are 3-5. The defense isn't going to win games. The running game stinks. You're 3 point underdogs against Oakland. Surgeons can't operate scared -- fear of killing a patient is going to kill the patient; if you do nothing they're going to die anyway. Well, it's the same thing when you're the offensive coordinator of a bad football team - there's no point in playing conservatively, because unless you gamble and get lucky you're losing anyway.
If you're going to gamble, do it with a gambler. Brian Griese is safe. Well, safe in the sort of way that results in ten interceptions and twelve sacks. But the point of bringing in Griese was to save the season with smart, competant play at quarterback - nothing flashy, but not terrible. Well, the season didn't get saved, and Griese isn't playing safe, and isn't a very good gambler. Rex Grossman is seeing more snaps in practice. Remember the above: we are already losing football games. We are probably going to lose more of them. Run the shotgun. Put in our speed guys - Hester, Wolfe, Olsen. Let Grossman have a full complement of weapons and turn him loose. Quit trying to shoehorn him into some notion of what a conservative Bears offense is supposed to be. What's the worst that he can do - lose the game?
Bench Urlacher Yeah, not exactly something that's going to help us win the game. But playing him isn't necessarily going to do that, either, and since the season is basically over it would be nice to see if we couldn't get his back maybe looked at, given a rest, see if some medical treatment and time away from football could perhaps get him to 100% for a season where the games aren't meaningless.