The Chicago Bears. That is supposed to mean something. But right now, I'm not sure it does.
Instead, it shines brightly as a symbol of incompetency and joke football. Is it the heart? Is it the soul? The brains? But more times than not this season we have watched football on par with the Indianapolis Colts - even with Cutler and Forte healthy. And then there were flashes of brilliance, that same feeling you had when the Bears beat up the Seahawks last year in the playoffs. That is the Bears we signed up for. We signed up for a team that had swagger, that had talent, that had heart. We showed up for the Bears team that stuck it to Atlanta on opening day. And/or the Bears squad that pummeled Michael Vick and the Eagles. We showed up when it dismantled the Lions. We've showed up ever since. Too bad the team didn't.
It's the mark of a coach, too. Because I remember the coach of all coaches (Da Bears) getting handed crappy quarterback after crappy quarterback and still grinding out 10-0-type wins. Nope, not this squad. When the chips were down, this squad sputtered, flopped, choked and gave up. That's not a glowing endorsement of the head coach, whose job is to motivate players to play.
But guess what? The NFL has changed. There is no way that a mobile, active quarterback will make it 17 weeks. You have to have a capable second player. They learned that in running backs. They learned it even in wide receivers. But teams can't afford to pay back-ups (or choose not to) and take their chances and hope they don't get burned. I have to say, if Forte went down but we still had Cutler, we would be the No. 5 seed and very much in the playoff hunt. So I guess that's on the GM. As we've heard day after day after day for the last month, "We are happy with our quarterback situation."
It just seems to be that the Bears brass has led this team to a 50/50 split. And right now, we are seeing the other half.
So if the Bears go out and lose the next two games, will we be talking about the 2011 team as one of the biggest choke-artists in Bears history? Where do they stack up against other Chicago sports? Or in 2011? The Red Sox and the Braves faltered down the stretch in their race for the wild card. If the Bears go from 7-3 to 7-9, will it be Chicago legend?
Here are some very quick, random observations from yesterday's game:
The Bears were sloppy at the top of this game. Penalties, turnovers, tense neck injuries. Whoah Johnny, that was quite a hit. I'm glad Knox is okay. The slow-motion replays on that play were gruesome. And Fox seemed to really enjoy showing it over and over. Knox did the thumbs up while being carted off, and Fox missed the thumb - it was obscured. That's a money shot right there. Gotta get it, guys. But Knox is okay. Probably out for the year, but not for life.
- With Knox out, we could see some other guys get a shot. What's that Hurd guy up to? (What, too soon?)
- I hate the Seahawks. But as fans, we share each other's pain. The Seahawks are now coming on? What about earlier in the season, guys? If you didn't start so poorly, you'd be in the playoff race. Instead, you have teased a city. I guess it's better than winning early and blowing four straight to get bumped OUT of the playoff race.
- Is it Nathan Enderle time? I don't want to watch Josh McCown. We got a glimpse of him wearing the benign #15 jersey. He looked sooo like a back-up quarterback. Give Enderle a shot. I would much rather watch a untested rookie outplay expectations than watch a crusty veteran underplay them.
- Julius Peppers is a beast. Now he's forcing fumbles for TDs. This guy is sooo good. It's a pleasure to watch him play football every week. I hope he plays the rest of his football here in town. Paper Machete host Christopher Piatt had a great joke last week: "I don't know football. I always thought Julius Peppers was a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant."
- It's funny how we all now look at Cutler and say, "Yeah man, now we realize how great Jay Cutler is." What I liked about Good Jay Cutler (as opposed to Bad Jay) was the halftime adjustments. When Cutler and the Bears are on their game, they do a great job making adjustments. With Hanie, they regress. Same coaches, same plays - so it has to be the QB, right? Cause Hanie just looks awful after the half. In all four games, he has been awful. Last week in Denver was his best, but this one was definitely his worst. Also, I miss Cutler's look. Cutler looks sooo mad when they are losing. He even flashes the famed "I couldn't give a care" look. It's almost always when they are losing. But Hanie? His look is "Why did I throw that?!?" or "I'm so mad at myself!" or "Where am I?"
- I've kind of got that Cutler look going on in this post. I couldn't give a care about the Bears anymore. C'mon guys, let's go hit Rush Street.
Here are some pictures pulled off the AP wire: