Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lovie Smith's Ten Biggest mistakes as Bears Head coach




Warning today's post is about Chicago Bears football. It's my blog I'll write about whatever I want.


Today, Sunday November the 23rd, Lovie Smith will return to Soldier Field in Chicago where he coached for nine seasons. With his return I've noticed some mythologizing going on.  There seems to be a general trend of turning what Lovie was, a good and solid coach, into a great coach. People seem to forgot how strong the calls for his firing were back in 2010 and how much general criticism he received.

So I am going to list off what I consider the top ten mistakes Lovie made, from least to greatest. 

#10 Trading Thomas Jones

I put this at number ten because this may have mostly been a Jerry Angelo call. Thomas Jones' successful running was taking precious playing time away from fourth overall pick Cedrick "Bust" Benson.  As his nickname implies, Cedrick "Bust" Benson was a complete bust with the Chicago Bears. He went on to have a minor blip of success for the Bengals, but has been out of the league for years. 

#9 Hiring Ron Turner

This one might just be a personal issue with me. I've never liked Ron Turner being hired. He seems to be a classic example of someone elevated just above their competency level. I didn't like when I ran the Bears offense the first time, I didn't like him being the head coach of the Fighting Illini and I didn't like him during his return stint with the Bears. He was the most successful offensive coordinator Lovie had but that aint saying much.

#8 Devon Hester as a wide Receiver

Devon Hester had an electric start to his career on his way to becoming the most prolific returner in NFL history. Wanting to maximize on Devon's abilities Lovie moved him from returner only to wide receiver.  The goal was to have him get is hands on the ball a lot more.  It never did really pan out.  Devon was a mediocre wide receiver and his return ability suffered. What success he had came on bubble screens. He seemed incapable of accurately running routes. 

#7 Signing Jonathan Quinn

I am a bears fan, this means I've seen a lot of bad quarterbacks in my time. Henry Burris, Rick Mirer and several others have bumbled their way around the Soldier Field turf. But the worst I've ever seen was Jonathan Quinn.  New Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea was bringing an exciting and different offense to Chicago.  He demanded a competent backup who knew the system in case Grossman got hurt... again. Shea sold everybody on Jonathan Quinn, a fourth year player that had rarely seen the field. It quickly became obvious why he hadn't been playing. Quinn didn't seem to know the basic rules of football. He didn't seem to have clue what plays were called. He would fall back look around confused as if he had never seen a football field before and then get sacked by large men.

#6 Not Retaining Ron Rivera

Awash with new power, and some might say hubris, after taking the Bears to the Super Bowl, Lovie decided to flex his muscle. Rivera was given many accolades for the Bears effective defense.  He was so highly regarded that he interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Whether Lovie felt threatened by Rivera or he really just wanted to take control of the defense himself, Lovie hired his yes man friend Bob Babbich as defensive coordinator. All the time telling people to "trust me".

#5  Signing Adam Archuleta

To secure the success of his friend, Lovie signed safety Adam Archuleta to a three year contract. Archuleta had been a very good player in his prime, but most NFL observers said he was past it and had lost a step, or two, or three. Lovie, ever loyal to his friends, rewarded Archuleta. Archuleta was horrible and ended up being benched not long into the season.

#4 Hiring Mike Martz

 At the end of the 2009 campaign after three seasons of missing the playoffs, the calls for Lovie to be fired where thunderous.  Many fans thought it was a sure thing.  Somehow Lovie convinced the Bears to keep him but fire the entire offensive coaching staff.  So Lovie was looking for his third O coordinator and also a defensive coordinator since we would no longer be allowed to call his own defensive plays. Lovie targeted some big names to be the new coordinators. There was one problem though.  Everybody knew Lovie was on the hottest of hot seats and it was playoffs or unemployment in the coming year. Who would want to take a job with a high chance of losing it in only one year. That doesn't look good on your resume.  So after over a month, Lovie finally called up his old buddy Mike Martz and offered him the job. Lovie initially rebuffed Martz and wanted to look elsewhere.  Best of all, after specifically saying that d-line coach Rod Marinelli would not be considered for the d coordinator position, Lovie hired Marinelli because no one else would take the job.

#3 Hiring Mike Tice

Beginning to sense a theme? After the 2011 season Mike Martz was forced to resign because of "philosophical differences" with Lovie. The "differences" being that once again Lovie was in the desperately trying to save my job mode. A new sheriff, general manager, was in town and Lovie could hear the gallows being built. Once again Lovie was faced with the problem of trying to find a qualified candidate with the sword of unemployment hanging over every bodies head. This time Lovie didn't bother with the embarrassing month long search and named Mike Tice, who was the offensive line coach, as the new O coordinator.  Tice was horrid and Lovie was fired a year later.

#2 Not cooperating with the media

Lovie was known in Chicago for  having a tense and acrimonious relationship with the media. He provided little access except for the required press conferences and those were usually filled with terse responses. You could sense the contempt for the media members in his face and body language. I get it. The Chicago sports media can be very tough and I find most of them unlikable. But your relationship with the media is your relationship to the fans. I have heard that member of the bears organization encouraged and explained to Lovie that he needed to be amicable to the media to win the fans.  My guess is Lovie didn't care. As long as he had the locker room, it didn't bother him what the fans thought of him. He came off as arrogant rude and condescending.  Fans had trouble understanding how much the locker room loved him. Even during success, fans tended to have a overall negative opinion of Lovie. 


#1 Hiring Terry Shea(Never figuring out the offense)

 For his first year as coach Lovie wanted to have a dynamic offensive attack like the one that led the Rams to win the superb owl.  He tried to get his friend Mike Martz, but that marriage made in hades would have to wait for several years.  Unable to hire Martz, Lovie moved on to hire quarterback guru, offensive genius, and moron Terry Shea. Terry Shea made the prebious offense under John Shoop look high powered. Shea was horrible at every aspect of the game. He even manage to mess up public relations when he absurdly gave himself B.  It was not just that the Bears had the 32nd ranked offense that year, it was 32nd by a large margin. They had over 500 yards of offense less for the season than the 31st ranked team.  The Bears fired Shea after his one terrible season. Lovie never did figure out the offense in his time in Chicago. The one season they managed to have a the 15th ranked offense they went to the Super Bowl. If he could have just maintained an average offense, he would have had much greater success.

As I said at the beginning, I do believe that Lovie was largely a solid and good coach who got the most out of many of his players.  I think most of the failures under his regime should really be placed at the feet of general manager Jerry Angelo. If I wanted to do Angelo's greatest mistakes there would be more than ten.

#Honorable Mention "Rex is our Quarterback"


Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaNoWriMo and rediscovering your old work



I haven't been blogging because I have been spending my writing time on my NaNoWriMo novel.  I am technically behind on the  word count but I've written more this time than any of the others. So I consider that a success. I expect that if I do write the entire story it will end up being less than the 50k words called for. Why is that? I am not actually writing the whole thing. I am working out the basic plot elements. How they get form here to there, etc. I am not writing much in way of description or fleshing out every scene.  I have a fear that even if I do get this draft worked out, I won't have the will to go back and do all the hard work to rewrite/flesh out he rest. Means I should probably just give up.  I kid. I kid.

This is my fourth year trying to do NaNoWriMo and my fourth year trying to write this novel. That means I have three other versions of the start.  It fascinated me to look over these other versions and see many differences: not really only in style or plot, but differences in tone. The first one was a little dark with a lot of introspection and internal dialogue. After I realized the first attempt was long and rambling, I tried in the next two to use a flashforward to show that there would be action after the boring bit.  These versions also tried to be a little more lighthearted. In the latest version I've removed a lot of the early stuff where I gave the background on the main character.  This background is very important to justify his actions.  I will try and find some way to organically include this info in the story.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo starts today. As promised I will not be repeating the mistake of participating in it's sister event NaBloPoMo. During National Blog Posting Month people try and make at least one blog post a day.  This led to my posting of several blogs well below the mighty high standard I set. If you don't realize that last sentence is a joke, you must be new to reading my blog.

During NaNoWriMo you are supposed to write 50000 words. That comes to 1666 words a day.  I am sure this year will go exactly as the last four have. I'll write maybe three perhaps four days the entire month and produce, if I really try, somewhere in excess of 1200 words. Mind you, I mean 1200 words for the full month.

You'll notice a graph on the side bar to help you track my failure and shame. So wish me luck. Or better yet, wish me some hard work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: An Artificial Night - Seanan McGuire

An Artificial Night (October Daye #3)An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was not sure I wanted to read the third book in the October Daye series after the second one fell flat. Seanan McGuire takes a step up with An Artificial Night. It is a strong improvement on book two. In fact i would say skip book to entirely. You don't really learn anything during it that is necessary to understand book three.

In An Artificial Night, October goes on a series of dangerous quests to defeat a very old and powerful fae called Blind Michael. We learned some interesting things about “Toby” in this book. I don’t know whether these things are intentional or I am just reading them into the story. She doesn't come off as very bright. Much of the time she really doesn't understand what is going on. I tend to think this is intentional. The world McGuire has created doesn't operate under the normal rules. Things make an internal sense, but not in the way readers are used to. Secondly, despite all her talk of doing everything herself, she’s beholden to those more powerful than herself to succeed. She’s a proxy through which more powerful agents fight. She’s not the loan hero, but a knight on the chessboard.


View all my reviews

Friday, October 10, 2014

Importance of Process

Process is boring. Process is for pointy haired bosses. Process saps the spark and spontaneity needed to be creative. Art works by the explosion of inherent talent that results in the creation of a great work with a minimum of effort. For the longest time I've subconsciously thought this was how artistic production worked. I tried to learn to paint by painting once without any instructions. When it didn't work I quit. I tried to learn to play the guitar by never practicing. If you had asked me I would have told you things take practice and a lot of work, but honestly I just assume talent just spewed out results.  No wonder I have yet to produce my plethora of award winning novels.

A few things made me consider a more formalized approach. I read a blog post  put up by a fairly famous woodworker named Marc Spagnuolo about process. He discusses his process for producing a wood project and even provided a poster of it. Secondly, I listened to a talk by an expert on process.  He really got the point across that process can help make results more predictable and efficient.  My penchant for producing nothing points to some inefficiencies. Finally I realized that my slapdash just hope inspiration takes over approach wasn't working. I decided to develop some processes to go along with different projects.

Below is my current process for writing a blog post.


1. Write down the post inspiration/topic
2. Outline the post. I make sure to get down the basic structure of the post and all the topics I want to mention. The outline is flexible and I allow myself to move, add, or exclude things during the actual writing of the post.
3. First draft of the post. Sometimes this isn't done in the order of the outline but in discrete paragraphs. That I link together in the revision phase.
4. Find and include picture(s).  I want each blog post to include at least one visual element. I'll pick out the images and then try them out in different locations utilizing the preview function in blogger. I'll use pictures I take myself, like with this post, or use free stock photos that are available.
5. Revise.  After finishing the first draft I wait a day or two or three. I can then look at the post with fresh eyes. Is what I wanted to get across clear? Is the post discombobulated? I then rewrite the post.
6. Post.  I have found that posting during the weekdays in the morning local time gives me the most views. *

This process is similar to the one I've come up with for short stories.

* I did some research using Google Analytics trying to figure out when to post and how to advertise those posts.  I found out that mornings between 8 -10 am my time Monday through Firday is the best time to post. For some reason I got in my head that Sunday night would be a good time to post, but the posts then got almost no action at all.  I also get good return on sharing the posts on google+ and twitter.  I gained no increase at all from posting to facebook.  I can explain this easily. I have several hundreds of followers between twitter and google+. On the other hand I rarely use facebook and have only a handful of friends.  Your mileage may vary.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Music Monday: Deadman's Gun - Ashtar Command

Your hands upon
A deadman's gun and you're
Looking down the sights
Your heart is worn, 
And the seams are torn
And they've given you reason to fight

And you're not gonna take what they've got to give
And you not gonna let them take your will to live
Because they've taken enough and you've given them all you can give

And all the storms you've been chasing
About to rain down tonight
And all the pain you've been facin'
About to comin' to the light


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: The First American

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin FranklinThe First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Finally," this is what all my goodread friends are saying. I started this book seven months ago. What took me so long. First, I don't actually read that much. Secondly, I often found myself pausing while reading to look up some piece of information. I was led down many a wikipedia trail reading this book. Finally, the printer printed on big pages in a small font.

Ok all my excuses are finished, what about the book. I personally prefer learning about history through the lens of biography. Given that caveat, I consider The First American to be one of the best historical books I've ever read. We get an intimate portrait of the greatest thinker of his time if not one of the greatest thinkers in all of history. The author exposes us to a very human Franklin. We see witness his sadness at the breaking of relations with his son, who chose loyalty to the crown over loyalty to his father.

Beyond Franklin himself we encounter a treasure of information about the milieu that produced the revolution and eventually, the United States. I learned more about what lead to the revolution reading this book than I did in all the schooling I had. I highly recommend it to anybody with an interest in the period

"Go on doing great things and loving pretty women"


View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Back. Hide your sanity.

As you can see I am back and with a new theme.  I thought a fresh start deserved a fresh theme.  This means my old theme lasted a grand total of two posts. Maybe that is a record in the blogging hall of fame.  I pretty much built this theme myself using bloggers html editing option.  We will see how long it lasts. Note if you are viewing this blog on mobile you will not see the new theme.  I pushed the blogger button that is supposed to make your new theme work for mobile, and nothing happened. So if you want to see the new theme please use a regular browser.

I plan on writing whatever I want. So be warned :)
Here's a pic of the old theme for posterity: