MORRISSEY: Pull yourselves together! Forget about Jeffery and Gould!

SHARE MORRISSEY: Pull yourselves together! Forget about Jeffery and Gould!
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Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery scores a touchdown against the Broncos on Nov. 5 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder? No, absence makes the heart lose its mind.

I know this because some people suddenly are lamenting the absence of former Bears Robbie Gould and Alshon Jeffery — Gould because the Bears recently cut Connor Barth, the struggling kicker who had replaced him, and Jeffery because the Bears play his red-hot Eagles on Sunday.

Here is Rule No. 1 in life: Nobody goes to a football game to see the kicker. Nobody. It’s like going to a piano performance to watch the page-turner. So stop obsessing about the Bears’ kicking issues and refocus on the Bears’ bigger problems. Such as the Bears’ coaching.

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As for all the wailing about Jeffery’s departure, there must be a bad strain of amnesia going around. He was a talented receiver in Chicago when healthy. If for some reason you can’t differentiate between regular type and italic – we’ll call it print’s version of color blindness — “when healthy’’ is the key phrase here. When we weren’t complaining about Jeffery’s inability to stay in one piece as a Bear, we were waiting for him to get hurt. Interspersed were some very nice catches.

In the real world, any reminiscing about him would sound like this: I’ll never forget his hamstring strain. Sept. 17, 2015. One of his more impressive soft-tissue injuries. Couldn’t play for four games, but really did some impressive rehabbing.

And let’s not forget Jeffery’s four-game suspension in 2016 for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

But he’s healthy and playing well for the Eagles this season, which is all that Bears fans can see. If your argument is that Jeffery would have helped rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky progress quicker, fair enough. But if Jeffery had stayed a Bear, he’d probably be in traction right now, given his track record of injury and the Bears’ habit of getting their own players hurt.

Barth was not good this season, and I certainly don’t want to give the impression that the Bears treated him unjustly. But his missed field-goal attempt against the Lions last week only took attention away from the bigger problems the Bears have. While we continue to weep and gnash our teeth over Barth’s transgressions, the Bears still can’t figure out what to do on offense.

Cutting Barth was the ultimate diversionary tactic. Pay no attention to the terrible football we’ve played this season, it said; we’re furious with our kicker! Whenever NFL coaches want to make a statement about holding players accountable, they cut the kicker. Yeah, that’ll teach everybody.

Kickers matter for good teams and teams that are going to be good someday. The 3-7 Bears certainly aren’t the former, and who knows if they’ll be the latter. Blaming Barth for what ails them now is like blaming a bent spoon for the soup tasting bad.

What I remember most about Gould’s time in Chicago was former coach Marc Trestman’s bizarre overtime decision against Minnesota in 2013. For reasons that will never be clear, Trestman had his kicker attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down, rather than have running back Matt Forte get more yards. Gould missed, and the Vikings went on to win. I realize that boiling down Gould’s Bears career to that strange moment is completely unfair to him. He was wonderful in his 11 seasons in Chicago. But that’s how it is with kickers. No one remembers all the hours the Titanic plied the seas serenely.

Too many people have lost sight of what this Bears season is about. At times, I’ve been one of them. The season was never about victories and losses. It was about progress. When a team is rebuilding, as the Bears are, it walks a fine line between losing games in order to get the best draft position possible and trying to improve along the way.

Losing to the Packers at home two weeks ago wasn’t a no-no. Losing after a bye week and looking terribly unprepared while favored against the Packers was. If coach John Fox loses his job, and he should, he can look at that game as the one that tipped the scales against him.

If the Bears had been competitive against the Packers that day or if Trubisky had made leaps and bounds this season, we might not be having discussions about Fox’s future. But neither of those “ifs” happened.

Somehow, the discussion has turned to why general manager Ryan Pace didn’t put the franchise tag on Jeffery for this season and why he decided to waive Gould before the 2016 season. Talk about missing the point.

What’s next, a conversation about long-snapping?

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