The first is the system. Rivera brought his own flair to the Cover 2. He clearly wasn't a Cover 2 guy, as seen by his success in San Diego in a completely different system. Either way he threw in different coverage schemes, different stunts on the line, and generally was very creative. Babich was the opposite. He threw a basic Cover 2 out there and didn't mix up the schemes at all. Opposing teams knew what was coming for the most part, and picked apart the Bears in the seams of the Cover 2. The only thing Babich tried to do was put everyone on the line to try to confuse quarterbacks. The only problem with that was they did it EVERY TIME so teams were able to adjust. Not only that, but it gave tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield an extra step as Urlacher and Briggs tried to drop back from the line.
The second reason was motivation. The Bears defense that had been ferocious and opportunistic turned into a lifeless bunch that was painful to watch. Babich could not seem to instill the fire and aggressiveness that had defined the Bears in previous years. They were still able create a lot of turnovers this season. Where they differed from past years is when their backs were up against the wall, it seemed like they couldn't get the big stops. There was no real spine.
Did Lovie not see it? How could he have missed it? It seemed like he was oblivious, or else he realized it but he was going to protect his boy Babich. Well I have good news for Lovie, Babich, the Bears, and Chicagoans; Lovie is going to take over the play-calling on defense:
Smith will handle play-calling duties this coming season with Bob Babich remaining the defensive coordinator while returning to his roots as the team's linebackers coach. The staff was filled out Tuesday morning with the addition of Jon Hoke as secondary coach.
"I have been involved a little bit,'' Smith said this afternoon on a teleconference. "My involvement will be a lot more now. For some reason offensive coaches, there are quite a few offensive coaches that [call plays]. There are not a lot of defensive guys. I think this is what will help us get back to where we need to be.''
This is a great solution for all parties. Babich does not take a ceremonial demotion and stays defensive coordinator, at least in name. The defense gets new life from Lovie, who knows the Cover 2 and how to make it work from his days in Tampa and St. Louis. It's win-win for everyone. While my faith in Lovie has wavered at times this season, he has once again proven how he is a great manager of people. Babich keeps some pride, while at the same time the defense gets better play-calling.
With Marinelli at his side, hopefully Lovie can turn this defense around. Whew. I don't think I could have put up with another season of Babich.