It’s on John Fox to right Bears’ sinking ship — can he do it?
The remaining fans wanted the Bears to hear it Sunday, jeering as loud as they could after having very little to cheer about on the field. But there weren’t enough fans left at Soldier Field for it to matter.
The apathy is real.
The Bears are bad.
Everyone knows it.
Why bother to watch?
The Bears cemented themselves as one of the NFL’s worst teams with a 17-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. An ugly season officially became appalling. And it might get worse. Prime-time games against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are next on the schedule, and the Bears have shown little to indicate they’ll be better than 1-7 at their bye week.
Add it all up, and the rest of the season becomes a true measure of who John Fox is as a coach. He hasn’t delivered a Year 2 turnaround, as he did with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. In Chicago, his narrative has changed completely — to one of failure.
“Obviously, no one is more disappointed than the guys in that room,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said after the game. “The thing that we have to do — and I think we have the people to do it — is just stick together. No one’s going to give us a chance the rest of the way, and that’s OK.
“As long as the people in that room believe, we will be fine. It’s why they call it, ‘Any given Sunday.’ We lost the last two weeks at the end of the game, and it’s tough. That’s part of the NFL. We have to figure out a way to turn it the other way. As long as we stick together, we are capable of anything.”
Hoyer’s words are a rallying cry, and that’s not good. It’s a sign he fears not only having lost the season, but also the team.
“I’m going to tell you the same thing I told the team,” Fox said. “It’s not lack of heart. It’s not lack of trying. Our guys battled. We just don’t play well enough right now.
“That’s on all of us. Everybody in there, the coaches are giving it their all. The players are giving it their all. We just got to play better to win games. Today was much like a few of other outings.”
The Bears are a banged-up bunch, and they continue to blow their chances. The Jaguars won a game that they had no business being in after falling behind 13-0.
It starts and ends with point production. Behind Hoyer, the Bears are accumulating an impressive amount of yards but have little to show for it.
The defense was better Sunday, but cornerback Tracy Porter’s slip — which allowed Jaguars receiver Arrelious Benn to score a 51-yard touchdown — underscored how slim the Bears’ margin for error is as a team.
They’re not good enough to make up for Hoyer’s inability to hit a wide-open Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown in the first quarter. And they’re not good enough to put together a game-winning drive. Despite having a plus-two turnover differential — which resonated with Fox — they still lost.
“We just can’t mess anything up if we expect to win ballgames in the NFL,” guard Kyle Long said.
Jay Cutler isn’t returning from his sprained right thumb to save the day, though his absence looms larger with every loss. It’s unclear where Cutler stands anyway after Fox allowed a quarterback controversy to gain legs.
The Bears can point to youth and hope, but this season isn’t about development. It can’t be when some of their most important young players — wide receiver Kevin White, linebacker Leonard Floyd, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, running back Jeremy Langford and cornerback Deiondre’ Hall — aren’t playing because of injuries.
This is truly a time of dejection, and it’s on Fox to fix it. If he can’t, he undoubtedly will enter his third season on the hot seat. He only has a four-year contract.
There was a common refrain in the locker room after the game Sunday.
“It’s just a matter of finishing,” receiver Cameron Meredith said.
“We have to finish,” safety Harold Jones-Quartey said.
“You’ve got to finish,” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said.
“Gotta finish,” Long said
Truth is, the Bears, as a team and organization, have no answers right now. And it’s the Bears who look finished only six weeks into the season.