During Sunday night’s 55-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Twitter comedians were out in full force, making light of the Chicago Bears on-field hilarity for more than three hours during prime time football.
Yet in Chicago, this is no joking matter.
The Bears are 3-6 and have almost no hope at the playoffs. Even if they win their next seven games in a row, that likely wouldn’t be enough, as it appears either the Packers (6-3) or the Detroit Lions (7-2), or both, will win at least 11 games this year.
In essence, the season is over for the Bears after a demoralizing and embarrassing loss to their division rivals. The team has lost five of its last six games and has thrown in the towel. The effort was lacking in all three phases tonight, with mistakes and poor play permeating the roster.
The offense could not find any rhythm and turned the ball over three times, special teams was once again a penalty factory, and the defense set new records in futility. Yet it was the coaching staff that appeared completely and utterly outmatched and outcoached by the opponents on the far sideline.
“We’re not a very good football team right now. We’ve descended the last three weeks. That starts with me,” coach Marc Trestman said after the game. “The level of play is not anywhere near where it needs to be. I’m disappointed in what happened tonight. We broke down in all three phases. We saw no ascending play after two weeks on bye.”
The Bears began the game with a penalty on the opening kickoff and the game snowballed out of control from that point. The team finished with 11 penalties for 161 yards, which is the most penalty yards in a single contest since 1951.
Offensively, the first eight drives of the game resulted in punt, interception, punt, punt, turnover on downs, turnover on downs and fumble. The offense ran Matt Forte just four times in the first 17 plays, resulting in 161 net yards and zero points in the first half.
Jay Cutler was sacked three times in the first two quarters and finished the first half with two turnovers, a 53.7 passer rating and no touchdowns. TE Martellus Bennett dropped a potential touchdown pass at the two-yard line, the offensive line struggled and the receivers could not get open consistently.
“We’re all looking for answers tonight and we don’t have a lot,” Cutler said. “There’s a lot of frustrated guys in that locker room, a lot of frustrated coaches.”
The stalled production on offense repeatedly sent Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the field, and he torched Chicago’s defense to the tune of six touchdowns in the first half, resulting in 42 Packers points. In Week 8, the Bears gave up a franchise-high 38 points in the first half. It took just one game to break that record.
In the past three games, the Bears have been outscored 94-7 combined in the first halves. In the six quarters combined between the Patriots contest and the first half of tonight’s game, the defense gave up 11 touchdowns and forced just 11 incompletions.
That included two egregious missed assignments that left Jordy Nelson, one of the best receivers in the game, wide open for two deep touchdowns.
“We had some blown assignments,” Trestman said. “It’s not good. We’ve got to go back to work and try to reassess it. We’re not playing well enough right now.”
When it was all said and done, the Bears gave up 55 points. After allowing 51 last week, Chicago became the second team in NFL history to give up 50 or more points in consecutive games. The only other team was the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons.
The icing on the cake came in the form of a blocked punt – technically a fumble because the ball never touched punter Patrick O’Donnell’s foot – and Brandon Marshall was knocked out of the game with another ankle injury.
“It’s very surprising to me,” said Trestman. “What’s going on during the week, our guys are locked in. This is a really good group of men. So what’s transpired the last three weeks is completely disturbing.”
At this point, it’s unclear where the team goes from here. There is talent on the roster yet they continue to underachieve. Something has to change, which could begin with the coaching staff, possibly even at the top with Trestman. At the very least, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s seat is piping hot.
Whatever happens moving forward, it’s clear this team has been going backward for the past month and there's no end in sight. We’ll find out this week what, if anything, will change, but if things stay on their current path, the Bears are headed for a Top 5 pick in next year’s draft.
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.