“Come on, put your ears closer to the door,” Marshall said.
It was a reference to last week’s game, after which everyone standing outside the home locker room at Soldier Field heard Marshall’s post-game outburst. It was an interesting comment from a player who didn’t finish a route the entire game.
Marshall’s preoccupation with the media pretty much sums up the afternoon, one in which the team appeared concerned about everything except for what was happening on the field.
This was especially so at the end of the first half, when the Patriots scored 21 points in a 57-second span to close out the second quarter.
“It was agonizing,” Jay Cutler said of the 21-point swing. “We didn’t make it much of a ball game after that.”
The three touchdowns gave New England a 38-7 lead heading into the half. The 38 points were the most the Bears have allowed in a first half in franchise history.
“We got outplayed and outcoached in all three phases,” coach Marc Trestman said.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put on a clinic the entire afternoon, systematically carving up Chicago’s depleted secondary. The Patriots scored five touchdowns and one field goal on their first six drives, which was more than they needed to hold off a lackluster effort from the visiting team.
Brady completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs, good for a 148.4 QB rating. TE Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 149 yards and scored three touchdowns, the third of which was a 48-yard jaunt in which Gronk stiff armed safety Ryan Mundy to the turf before outracing the rest of the defense.
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell had 11 catches on 11 targets for 124 yards and 1 TD, almost all of which came against Al Louis-Jean, who replaced Kyle Fuller (hip) in the second half. The rookie Louis-Jean began the year on the practice squad and Brady exploited him repeatedly.
Backup tight end Tim Wright caught seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown, while the New England run game piled up 122 yards on the ground. In essence, whatever the Patriots wanted to do offensively, they did easily.
Chicago didn’t get a QB hit until late in the fourth quarter, when Lamarr Houston picked up his first sack of the season on backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Yet, in a perfect ending to a miserable day, he hurt his knee celebrating the play and was carted into the locker room.
“I'm very disappointed for Lamarr,” Trestman said.
Offensively, the numbers look good. Quarterback Jay Cutler completed 20 of 30 passes for 227 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT and 1 lost fumble, with a 108.6 rating. RB Matt Forte rushed for 114 yards, while TE Martellus Bennett caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Yet almost all of that production came in the second half when the game was well out of reach.
The Bears scored points on just one of their first eight offensive drives. The other seven drives resulted in punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, turnover on downs. The final stats are like a bikini, they show a lot but they don’t tell the whole story.
The fact of the matter is the Bears were dismantled by a team that was better prepared, better coached and put forth better effort.
“Everyone is surprised,” said Cutler. “You don’t go out and expect to get beat like that.”
It’s been the story of Chicago’s season, one in which a supremely talented ball club has underachieved on almost a weekly basis. At this point, it’s unclear what types of changes need to be made. It starts at the top, with a coaching staff that hasn’t prepared its players properly and that has been out-coached by the guys on the other sidelines.
Yet, at 3-5 and with a road game against the Packers following the bye, soul searching is necessary at every level. The team now has a week to think about what just happened. We’ll find out over the second half of the year the mettle of this group and whether they can pull themselves out of the deep hole they’ve dug.
“Everyone is different,” said Cutler. “Some guys will beat themselves up over the bye. Some guys forget about it by the time they get on the bus. Either way, when we come back, everyone needs to be ready to play.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.