DETROIT – There is no need for accusations or bitterness or gnashing of teeth.
A shrug will do.
The Lions are a real, live team from the non-Vikings, non-Buccaneers class of opponents. They are talented on offense, and the Bears are woefully lacking in talent on defense. Any outcome other than the 34-17 lashing Detroit put on the Bears on Thanksgiving would have been shocking.
And so it was that the silly talk of a postseason berth was buried Thursday at Ford Field. This is what they are, and this is where they should be, a 5-7 club that is six feet under. You don’t go from where the Bears had been the previous five games — from downright awful to numbingly average – and expect to beat a team as talented as the Lions, no matter Detroit’s history of swooning this time of year.
A fiction has risen up around the Bears. It says they are too talented to be flailing the way they have flailed most of this season. Subscribing to that fiction allows you to believe they should be better than they are. And once you believe that, you’re free to think they’re not that far from being competitive.
So why make changes, the thinking goes. Stay the course. Trust me, the Bears will, heading nowhere.
There’s no point anymore in calling for heads that aren’t going to roll. Not Phil Emery’s. Not Marc Trestman’s. Not Jay Cutler’s. The Bears have anesthetized everyone into surrender. Their fans might as well sleep the sleep of the dead, like their team. Ownership is not going to make significant changes.
“The talent we have on the team, we definitely are underachieving right now,’’ running back Matt Forte said after the game. “Some guys got to do some soul searching for the rest of the season and (decide) on how they want to play the rest of these games.’’
The Bears aren’t nearly as talented as they would have you believe. The offense should be better, but never underestimate Trestman’s ability to bring out the bewildering in everyone. Forte rushed five times for six yards, despite the fact the Bears jumped to a 14-3 lead. Hard to get into a rhythm with so few carries. If any knows the whereabouts of Brandon Marshall, please let us know. All that’s left of him here are a few dropped passes.
It looks like the Bears have tied Cutler’s hands with short passes, hoping they can limit his turnovers and steal victories. That would make sense if you thought your defense could win you a game, but this defense couldn’t win a game of catch. Cutler ended up throwing two interceptions anyway, though the last one came in the end zone on the final play of the game.
The only shocker was that the Bears scored two touchdowns in the first quarter Thursday after going the previous six games without a touchdown in the opening quarter. But even that was misleading: One of the drives started at the Lions’ five-yard line, and the other started near midfield.
The planet eventually got back on its axis, and Detroit started pounding the bejabbers out of the Bears’ defense. It wasn’t just Calvin Johnson, though he was he was his usual amazing self with 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford completed passes to nine different Lions on the way to 390 yards. Nine.
Detroit had gone two straight games without scoring a touchdown. Then the Bears came to town.
“We’ll take the (blame) for this loss, and we’ll get better,’’ defensive end Jared Allen said.
That’s the problem. There’s not much too improve on. This is it, and it’s not good.
“I’ll give them credit: Today they were better than us,’’ Allen said defiantly. “… It doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. They’ve got good players. We’ve got good players. We didn’t execute.’’
Fans instinctively jumped on defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for leaving rookie Kyle Fuller alone on Johnson, but all the halftime adjustments in the world wouldn’t have helped an undermanned defense stop the Lions’ offense. Detroit was without running back Reggie Bush and two starting offensive linemen. It didn’t matter. Backup Joique Bell rushed for 91 yards.
Give the Bears an extra week of preparation, as they had going into the Green Bay debacle, and it doesn’t matter. Give them a short week of preparation, as they had going into Thursday’s game, and it doesn’t matter. Why? Because mostly this is about talent, the missing kind.