Numbers show Bears have been awful when they start with two losses

SHARE Numbers show Bears have been awful when they start with two losses

Bears fans display their sentiments during a loss to the Jets on Nov. 17, 1997, at Soldier Field. That season was one of seven since 1970 in which the Bears started 0-2. Their average record in those seasons was 5-11. | AP

The Bears are 0-1. They don’t want to start 0-2.

You stats freaks probably want to know why.

Well, after spending an incredible amount of time under my garage with my glowing, nuclear-grade computer and voluminous bits of information dating back some 46 years, I can tell you why.

When the Bears start 0-2, they suck.

Take it to the bank. Or to the suck-a-torium.

Since 1969 — a year I chose because Joe Namath and the Jets upset the Colts in Super Bowl III and the Beatles walked across a zebra intersection at Abbey Road — any Bears team that has started a season with two losses never has recovered.

In that first year of our scientific study, 1969, the Bears lost their first two games to the Packers

(17-0) and Rams (20-17) and lurched to a 1-13 record.

Now that season was an outlier in that it was spectacularly, goofily horrendous. And, it should be noted, the Bears not only lost their first two games, but they lost their first seven. And their last six.

Quarterback Bobby Douglass was the second-leading rusher on the team, and, bizarrely, the offense was led by Hall of Famer Gale Sayers and the defense by Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, with help from Ed O’Bradovich and the late, great Doug Buffone.

Coach Jim Dooley must have been a real dandy to mess things up so ridiculously. But, as noted, this was an outlier of wretchedness, and maybe we should spin it off.

And maybe we should discard the ‘‘good’’ season of 1968, when the Bears started 0-2 and finished 7-7. That was a little too superior for counting, perhaps.

Oops, I said we were starting with 1969. But science is inexact. And nobody holds Stephen Hawking to rigid rules.

So with 1968 and 1969 tossed out, we have the 0-2 starts of 1973 (3-11), 1981 (6-10), 1982 (3-6 in a strike year), 1993 (7-9), 1997 (4-12), 1998 (4-12) and 2000 (5-11).

We’ll project 1982 as a five-victory season (who knows?), add everything up and divide. What we come out with is just about a 5-11 average season after starting 0-2.

Fun, huh, going 5-11?

That’s why the Bears have to win Sunday against the Cardinals. The whole world believes in statistical analysis — it’s more important than actual humans — so who am I to doubt the power of actuarial computations?

If the Bears beat the favored Cardinals at Soldier Field, they will have a statistical chance of being an average (8-8) to very good (say, 11-5) team.

Whom the Bears will rely on to become a very good team isn’t clear. If there’s a great player on their defense, I’m not aware of him.

End-turned-linebacker Jared Allen might be a Hall of Fame candidate someday, but his sack excellence is in the past, and he simply is clinging to his reputation to get by.

On offense, the Bears have running back Matt Forte, who has been such a steady all-around presence that he has flown (or run) under the national radar. His 166 combined yards last week against the Packers was outstanding, but it came in a loss.

Jay Cutler, our quarterback? There’s where it lies. If he’s just the dud that he always has appeared to be, even after statistically good seasons, then the Bears might as well take the 0-2 start, swallow their medicine and wait for better years ahead.

To follow your city’s NFL team through a season that is virtually over before it starts is depressing. Winter will be here before you know it, and watching other teams in the playoffs season after season becomes even more depressing.

So pray for a victory Sunday, a squeaker, ugly, anything possible. Because if the Bears are 1-1, why, that’s almost like a holiday.

Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.


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