ARLINGTON, Texas — Flashback to the days of Marc Trestman. It’s OK. Give it a try. Think of the good times, not the days of malcontents ruling the locker room and the coaches turning on their players. Recall the time when Trestman’s Bears were actually considered good.
Three games into the 2014 season — which would be Trestman’s last as coach — the Bears were 2-1 with dramatic back-to-back wins on opposite coasts against the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.
Most of the franchise-embarrassing moments that did in Trestman weren’t in the headlines yet.
So why bring him up?
The Bears are three weeks into their second season under coach John Fox. And it’s been ugly. Quarterbacks Brock Osweiler, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott have had their way with them in their victories. And Aaron Rodgers still is on the schedule. Twice.
“At this stage, all I know is when it’s not going well, you either give up, give in or just give it your all,” Fox said after the Cowboys pummeled the Bears 31-17 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday night. “I think we’ve got the right guys in that locker room and I think we’ll improve for it.”
The Bears find themselves among the laughingstocks of the NFL. They are 0-3. So are the Browns and Jaguars. That’s humbling company and the Bears joined it in humbling fashion with losses to Osweiler, Wentz and Prescott.
Last year, the Bears started off 0-3, but those losses came against the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks.
“It’s not really where you start,” Fox said. “It’s frustrating. I’d rather be 3-0. But that’s not reality. We’ll just strap it up and get ready for next week.”
To be fair, Trestman had a better team than Fox. The expectations were different. In 2014, the Bears were a “win-now” team with productive veterans.
That said, improvements of some sort still were expected in Year 2 under Fox. It’s what he does, right? It the main reason why chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips said they hired him, wasn’t it?
Instead, the Bears reek of being unprepared. Forget about their talent level and multitude of injuries. They aren’t being put in positions to succeed as players and coaches often say they are.
Case in point: The Cowboys controlled the ball for 21 minutes, 47 seconds in the first half compared to the Bears’ 8 minutes, 13 seconds. The Cowboys had 274 yards to the Bears’ 114 in the first half. Brian Hoyer’s first snap in place of Jay Cutler was a botched play that ended in a one-yard loss.
“We got to play better,” tight end Zach Miller said. “We got to continue to work, continue to fight. And we’ve got to figure it out it fast.”
The Bears were better in the second half, and players pointed to that perseverance, but as Hoyer said afterward, “there are no moral victories in this league.”
Prescott looked like Troy Aikman in prime-time, completing 19 of 24 passes for a touchdown and a 123.6 passer rating. He was worth watching.
And Trestman’s Bears were worth watching. Even his downfall made for tragic, compelling theater. But what about Fox’s Bears?
Their woes are different, if not worse. Fox’s under-promise and over-deliver mantra needs to turn into a promise to deliver. The Bears’ faithful aren’t only restless, but turning away. The apathy is 100 percent real.
There were 2,055 unused tickets for the home opener against the Eagles.
And all the empty seats didn’t mean fans were watching “Monday Night Football” in their living rooms. The Bears’ ugly 29-14 loss against the Eagles generated the worst Week 2 overnight rating for Monday night game in years.
How many television sets were turned off in the Chicago area on Sunday night? Why care?
Fox’s first season with the Broncos featured a six-game winning streak that made up for a 2-5 start and led to playoff appearance.
Anything can happen. But first, the Bears need to make something good happen.
“We’ve got 13 left to go,” Fox said. “We’ll see how it goes.”