Iíve heard it said that itís always darkest before it gets pitch black, and so it goes with the Bears. Just when you think things canít get any worse, our guys let the Lions hang a 34 on the fourth quarter scoreboard, setting an all-time NFL record for futility in that stanza. And at 1-3 theyíre already three games off the pace in the NFC North, with a road game against the resurgent undefeated leaders on tap. Happy packer week, indeed.
I guess I should consider myself lucky, in that I didnít get to watch. The better part of my Sunday afternoon was spent on the road traveling back from Muskegon, where the family spent Saturday night aboard the USCGC McLane with my sonís Cub Scout pack. Unfortunately, the dreaded cheeseís contest with the Vikings was being broadcast at the same time. A frantic scan of the horizon revealed no Wal-Mart, Target or Meijer to buy a cheap Walkman, so the wife and I flipped a coin to decide which game to listen to first. She won the toss and elected to receive the WTMJ signal, so I suffered through the call of the Pencil-Necked Carpetbagger while the Bears fell behind 3-0.
And I almost lost my breakfast when their quarterback threw the pass that broke Dan Marinoís record for career touchdowns, as they stopped the game in Minnesota and simulcast a video of Marino congratulating The Billy on his accomplishment. I could only imagine the chorus of boos that would have rained down upon him had they tried that stunt in our house, and I wondered aloud whether the devious minds in the NFLís scheduling office had been targeting that milestone to fall in front of the nation next Sunday night at Curlyís Place.
We bounced back and forth between the pencil neck and the flagship all the way home, and if it seemed like we stopped at every washroom and produce stand along the route itís probably because we did. Maybe dehydrated kids arenít such a bad thing.
As we approached Chicago and the traffic built, so did my frustration as the packers pulled away while the Bears put the finishing touches on their collapse.
Once again the offense went without a five-minute drive, this time in a whopping 15 possessions. This brought their season record on that front to 2 for 52, and once again itís no wonder the defense fell apart down the stretch.
Amazingly, the Bears somehow won the time of possession battle, but not because of their running game. 52 pass attempts spread equally between each half should tell us all we need to know about a team that supposedly gets off the bus running. It appears the doors have been welded shut, as their puny 69 yards on the ground attest. Either they canít or they wonít run the ball. You pick.
The reasons have been spelled out ad nauseum. The quarterback change had to be made. We all know the verbal barrage that would have descended upon Rex Grossman had he started, thrown three interceptions and coughed up the ball twice, yet thatís exactly what Brian Griese managed in his first start. Maybe it isnít the quarterback, although if quarterbacks were photography the Bears couldnít develop a Polaroid.
Bottom line: unless the offensive line discovers the Fountain of Youth, this isnít going to get any better.
Iíll admit I missed it, calling for a 14-2 record and fully expecting Kreutz and company to pick up where they left off last year. Guilty, as charged. But, as the Bears would be quick to point out, I donít get paid to evaluate talent. Jerry Angelo does, though, and he should be ashamed of himself for letting it get to this point.
Somewhere, Jim Finks is shaking his head.