With all the hubbub over Lovie Smith and his poor replay challenge record, I think the real culprit is often overlooked. Yeah I know Lovie is the guy with the red hankie in his pocket, and yeah I know he's the guy dropping it on the field, but what dingbat is up in the booth encouraging him to do so? Is it Ron Turner, or some other visually challenged boob unable to decipher the multiple angles of the replay? How many times in the Lovie Smith era has he challenged a play that had 99% of us fans screaming at our TV? Lovie usually draws our ire, but the blame can't solely fall on him.
I'm sure sometimes Lovie challenges with his gut, any head coach has to go with a feeling from time to time. Because you never know what the referee will see or how he'll justify his decision. The refs miss some calls too. A good example is the earlier challenge by Packer head man Mike McCarthy on the Greg Jennings catch in the end zone. I thought it was a catch, the FOX crew thought it was a catch, and maybe a different official would have ruled it a catch, but on this day it was ruled incomplete.
And on occasion I'm sure Lovie will throw the flag just to back his player. If a player is adamant about his catch or that he didn't fumble, a head coach will send a message to his team that he has your back by dropping the flag. It may not always result in an overturned call, but believing in your player and throwing the challenge flag is the right message... sometimes... and only at the right time. The real smart coaches understand down and distance, field position, score, and time remaining when they throw the flag to back their guy. But they also need to know when to send a message by not throwing a flag. Sometimes a "sit down and shut up" or a "there is no I in team" message is best sent by not throwing the flag.
Getting back to who exactly is in the booth calling down to the sideline letting Lovie know to challenge or not to challenge. Has any one ever called out the exact guy upstairs making the call? Or is there a brain trust up in the booth collectively screwing up? Maybe it's a "too many cooks in the kitchen" type effort? Challenge it, no don't challenge it, should we challenge it, yes challenge, no, yes, I need an answer... OK throw the flag!
My biggest issue with this staff isn't the failed challenges, most coaches strike out more than they hit, it's the Obvious (yes, with a capital O) never have a chance in the world type replays that these knuckleheads challenge. Well, that and the double time out failure from Sunday, but that's off topic...
I think when the Bears are constantly reeeaaaching for hope with these questionable challenges, it tells us that they know they need some luck in order to pull out a win. Good teams create their own luck, but the Bears are hoping the refs can create some luck for them.
Fellow WCG writer Kev H has a good take on this replay challenge subject, be sure to check it out.