The word coming out of the locker room after yesterday’s loss was “Unacceptable”. The Bears star wide receiver Brandon Marshall even went so far as to say the offense is questionable and started to ascertain that things need to change. The Bears are 0-3 at Soldier Field and that’s not even the worse part. The Bears season might as well be over because as of next Sunday afternoon they’re looking at a 3-5 record with a game in Green Bay the following their bye. The Bears defense played awful yesterday, but no one can think about the 22nd ranked defense because of how porous the Bears massively underachieving offense played. Jay Cutler at home this year has five interceptions to go along with an equal amount of touchdown passes. In the Bears four losses all together the trend continues with him having seven touchdowns with the same number of interceptions.
The losses at home are particularly troubling because the only wins the Bears have are on the road where Cutler has a TD to interception ratio of 7:0. The blueprint is clearly to keep Jay Cutler as a game manager, not allowing him to give it away with turnovers. The Bears have all the offensive weapons in the world to be a high-scoring team, but have yet to put it all together. The most points the Bears have scored on the season is 28 in San Francisco, and that is what’s most unacceptable. The Bears are not being balanced enough, and while you can look at the defense yesterday and put some of the blame on them, early in the game the unit was good enough to give the Bears a chance to play with a lead.
On the opening drive by the Dolphins who received the kickoff to start the game, the Bears forced a three and out from the 28 yard line. Having fielded the ball at the 40, Chicago proceeded to go three and out themselves. This is where the game was completely lost, and while saying that’s a little early to set as a demarkation point for destruction, the Dolphins scored a touchdown on their next possession and Chicago trailed for the rest of the game.
The reason this loss has caused so much unrest both internally and in the public eye is due to the schedule. A trip to a well rested New England followed by a road game in Green Bay after the bye has Chicago staring down the barrel of the gun in terms of a losing season. 3-6 is a completely realistic expectation in the future, and with the way Jay Cutler is playing, that contract is looking to be an abomination much earlier than expected.
On top of everything else that came out of yesterday is the fact that there seemed to be no urgency by Chicago in a game that they knew was massively important to their season. Alshon Jeffery was targeted only seven times with two receptions for nine yards. Completely unacceptable! Couple that with the fact that Brandon Marshall only saw ten targets for six receptions totaling 48 yards, and the criticism of the offense could be expected.
I get that Trestman and Kromer want to be balanced and run the ball with Matt Forte, who was again lights out with 109 all-purpose yards and two scores, but when you’ve got two of the most physical wide receivers in football, you’ve got to target them closer to 15 times a game. A combined 17 targets with just eight receptions is completely underwhelming from a gameplan point of view.
The loss is so maddening for so many reasons, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that the season is pretty much an afterthought at this point. Chicago will more than likely be 3-6 after Green Bay and Jay Cutler is just entering his long term contract without much of a chance to be traded or jettisoned. The play calling needs to get better, and the weapons on the outside are going to waste in their primes. Brandon Marshall has had several 1,000+ yard seasons, and the other teams know what kind of attention he demands. The other side of the field is occupied by another emerging threat with likewise abilities to change the game. The opposing defensive coordinators have to account for both of these players while in addition trying to stop Forte, Bennett and Co.
This season was supposed to be going completely differently from opening day, and now it has a chance to be one of the biggest disappointments of the NFL season. Chicago being booed by its own fans after a third straight loss at home is completely understandable. Those fans pay good money to see a team go out and perform to a crowd of thousands. Losing a game you had to have to save your season is obviously going to leave the fanbase upset outspoken. The crowd knew the circumstances of yesterday’s game, and the loss was appropriately accompanied by boos. There’s nothing wrong with the fans being harsh on an organization that was supposed to be making significant strides this year. Perhaps this team was never a super bowl contender because of its defensive ineptitude, but in the NFL of today everyone has defensive shortcomings because the offenses are so explosive across the league. In this regard Chicago was supposed to have one of the most explosive units entering the season, and to have a high watermark of 28 points is completely unfathomable and upsetting. Winless at home is laughable, and the brain trust needs to be held accountable. Jay Cutler will always be the whipping boy because of his demeanor and mistakes, but in the end the gameplan has to have a few wrinkles in it that doesn’t keep the ball in Cutler’s hands when he starts to make the mistakes that are becoming commonplace every week.