In the distance was the fog. There wasn’t enough of it to obscure the downtown buildings, but if you were in the Soldier Field press box Sunday, there was enough of it to make you say to yourself, “The more I look at this mesmerizing fog, the less I have to watch the seasonal depression known as the Bears.’’
But the eyes wander, and when they did, there was bad football staring back. The badness was predictable, what with all the Bears’ injuries and suspensions, but who in his or her right mind wants to watch something so unattractive if it’s not mandatory? Offhand, I’d say nobody, but the stadium was half full Sunday, so that’s still a lot of nobodies. At least this nobody got paid to watch.
And then Bears roared back against the Titans, signifying … signifying … signifying that the Titans had gone into a prevent defense. That’s it. Nothing else. Bears receivers were so open in the fourth quarter, they had time to take up a hobby, read the classics and explain crop circles definitively.
Not to burst the Bears’ already burst bubble, but there’s a big difference between entertaining football and good football. When Tennessee decided to play off of Bears receivers, it was good theater for their fans, but it didn’t mean the Bears had suddenly become good.
The Titans hung on to win 27-21 after giving up 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points, thanks to that pliant defense. It was appropriate that the Bears lost due to Josh Bellamy’s drop in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. It was one of 10 Matt Barkley passes that receivers dropped Sunday. You don’t deserve to win anything with that many mistakes.
“Josh played his butt off the whole game,’’ Barkley said. “You can’t put that on him.’’
Sure you can. The Bears would have won Sunday’s game if Bellamy had caught a ball thrown between the numbers on his jersey. And yet, we’re getting bogged down in small details that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The cosmic meaning of the loss is that there are still five more games left in this forced march. The Bears are 2-9, the end of the season can’t come soon enough and the draft is when?
“The results are wins and losses, and the results have not been good,’’ coach John Fox said. “But just as I told the team, it was a pretty gritty, hard-fought game to get back into it.’’
There’s nothing to be angry about concerning Sunday’s game, other than that the Bears still have a big, fat quarterback problem and that they shouldn’t have one two years into the Fox-Ryan Pace regime.
Barkley was fine in his first career start. He was 28-of-54 for 316 yards and three touchdowns in place of the injured Jay Cutler. He threw two interceptions, including a Cutler-like pick into traffic near the Tennessee goal line. He will not be the answer for the Bears moving forward.
They need to find quarterbacks, plural, heading into next season, through the draft and hopefully through trade (Jimmy Garoppolo, pretty please). We already knew that. The Bears should have addressed their quarterback situation well before this. We really, really knew that. Watching Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota tear up the defense only brought home the fact that the Bears are terribly behind at the most important position in football. Mariota was 15-of-23 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, had a passer rating of 126.4 and rushed for 46 yards on four carries. Why oh why can’t the Bears ever find someone like that?
The Titans took Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Bears, picking seventh, took wide receiver Kevin White, whose short career has been defined by injuries. Hindsight is the Bears’ sworn enemy.
One media report Sunday suggested the Bears might bring Cutler back for next season. Someone please drug test that report. That’s either a story planted by the Bears to try to get some offseason trade value for him or they really have lost their minds.
It’ll be interesting to see what the attendance looks like in the Bears’ final three home games. They announced a crowd of 48,408 Sunday, and the untrained eye thought that estimate was ridiculously inflated. By halftime, the herd had thinned out considerably. With reasons to watch dwindling and the weather likely getting worse, attendance could drop even farther.
Question, Bears fans: Why watch this brand of football — or fog, for that matter — when you can be doing something else?