Friday, November 25, 2005


Well I have a 4 day weekend off from work so that leaves plenty of time for my little rants on the Northsidereport, which is fine because I enjoy it. You see, I love sports, definately more than the average person that would consider themselves a sports fan. Dare I even mention the word passionate, yes I will say it I am officially passionate about sports. When a person admits to being passionate about sports other people have this misconception or steretype of a couch potato. While I enjoy kicking back on the couch and watching a game, I do not consider myself a couch potato. What's funny to me is if someone is passionate about art or the ballet they are considered to be cultured, but a sports nut is condsidered to be a couch potato.

So with my free time this weekend I'm ready to talk some sports. Since Walt Jocketty is busy trying to convince the rest of the baseball world that he is actually interested in signing AJ Burnett, when we really know it is just his way of covering up his plan to go in a totally different direction. And since I see Illinois is losing at halftime to that solid Wichita St. program, let's talk Bear football.

Last night while watching the "backyard brawl" or the Pittsburgh/West Virginia game it was not hard to think back to the Dave Wannstedt era in Chicago. I started to ask myself did we really hire this guy? Especially when you see Wannstedt do things like he did last night. Last night his Pitt Panthers were 3rd down and about 20 yards, they threw the ball for a 16 yard completion and found themselves 4th down and 4 yards short of the 1st down. However on the play West Virginia was flagged for jumping offsides. I'm fairly certain in this situation most coaches accept the penalty, take the 3rd down over, have 3rd and 15 and try once again for the 1st down. However our good friend Wanny decides to decline the penalty, and take 4th and 4. So since Pitt was in the middle of the field I thought Wannstedt was going to go for it, although even if you considered this 4 down territory why do you still not take the penalty to get the 3rd down over again and try two plays to get the 15 yards needed for the 1st down? No, Wannstedt decides to decline the penalty, only to punt it away anyway. Which to me made absolutely no sense at all. Things like that prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Wannstedt has no business as a head coach of a football team at any level.

I give the man some credit, he was an excellent defensive coordinator. There are many guys who have excelled as a coordinator but as a Head Coach stunk up the place (Mike Martz, Buddy Ryan) just to name a few.

Dave Wannstedt's main problem his entire career in Chicago was his lack of knowledge in the run game. On offense and stopping the run on defense. He had no concept of NFC Central football or smashmouth football. Most fans and football people consider football to be a game of passing and turnovers, nothing could be further from the truth. For example the Bears success this season, especially on defense, is built on their ability to run the ball fairly well, and to stop the run. Case in point, the Bears are still -2 in the all important turnover stat, or they have turned the ball over 2 more times on offense then they have gotten turnovers on defense, even with the best defense in the NFL.

I had a football coach in high school that taught me alot about the game and he taught me that football games are won and lost on the line of schrimmage. He used to tell us that the closer you line up to the football the more important you are to the outcome of the game. The O-lines ability to impose their will on the defense or the defensive lines ability to impose their will on the offense , who wins that battle, wins the game period. Sure passing stats get all the hype and recievers get to do their little dances in the end zone and get to be seen on Sportscenter, but the line is the key to winning football, and Dave Wannstedt to this day has failed to understand that. Case in point, in my senior year at Central we beat Metamora 63-0, and I remember the next day my dad was going over our stats in the paper and found out that we had like 47 rushes for 600 something yards and 0 passes for of course 0 yards. In other words we never threw the ball once that whole game. He started to make fun of us and I just said why would we throw the ball when we averaged 12 yards a carry or so. Sure this might have been just a high school game but the concept of football is still the same on any level. We dominated the line that night and dominated the game. Wannstedt never understood that.

Some say you can use the run to set up the pass, or vice versa, but the key is controlling the line and then you can do whatever you want to do, if you don't then you can't do jack.

That's the key to the Bears success this season. The O-line has played extremely well for the most point and they run the ball fairly well, and even with a rookie quaterback they are having success. Vasher, Urlacher and the boys get all the hype but they key to their defense is their ability to shut down the run and get pressure on the QB with their front four. That allows the likes of Vasher, Brown, and Urlacher to have the opportunity to make plays.

Clearly Lovie Smith understands what Dave Wannstedt never did, and it is paying off.