SEATTLE — The Bears’ 0-3 record shouldn’t be surprising. It would have been likely even if they had been the healthiest team in the league.
Would quarterback Jay Cutler and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White have made the difference between winning and losing Sunday in Seattle? Never say never, but probably not.
The game would have been more competitive with them, but the Bears still are lacking in many areas. Their 26-0 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field further illustrates how much work general manager Ryan Pace has in front of him.
It’s still early and there have been some positive signs, especially on the defense. But it looks as though creating a team that can compete with the NFL’s best might be more than a two-draft project for Pace and Co.
The Bears might have hung with the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks for a while, but those are mere baby steps for a team in the midst of rebuilding under Pace and coach John Fox.
According to VegasInsider.com, the Bears have opened as two-point underdogs in their game next Sunday against the once-downtrodden Raiders, who are 2-1.
The process Fox often talks about and wants his players to trust and believe in is going to be a long, arduous one. It’s clear the Bears still are trying to figure out which players want to go through it.
‘‘I’m not questioning effort or anything like that,’’ running back Matt Forte said. ‘‘I’m just saying everybody across the board — offense, defense and special teams — do we want it? Do they really want it enough? If we’re down or whatever, do we really want it enough to go out there and grind and try to get a win? It’s a question right now if everybody’s all in.’’
Those are strong words from one of the Bears’ most respected veterans. Forte said the team watches film together, making accountability evident and paramount.
‘‘We know the mistakes that everybody makes,’’ Forte said.
Regardless of messages, though, the losses likely will continue to mount while the Bears struggle to get healthy and their overall talent lags behind that of true playoff teams. Great game plans can do only so much against great teams with their own proven coaches.
‘‘There are enough guys in there that we can generate good football to win games,’’ Fox said.
Against the Seahawks, that was true only for the defense. Special teams cost the Bears 10 points, and backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen (9-for-17, 63 yards, 61.6 rating) struggled despite decent production from Forte in the first half. The Bears ran only two plays in Seahawks territory.
The defense, meanwhile, sacked Russell Wilson four times, got off the field on third downs (for the most part) and got big games from three free-agent signees.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was the Bears’ best player, finishing with six solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and four quarterback hits. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins kept pace with two sacks, two quarterback hits and one tackle for loss. And cornerback Alan Ball broke up a jump ball to tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone.
The Seahawks led 6-0 at halftime. Bears defensive players thought they had momentum and even got the ‘‘12th man’’ in the stands to boo twice. The game plan was working for the third consecutive week.
Until it wasn’t.
‘‘The reality is that we are 0-3, and the reality is that we’ve been in every game,’’ McPhee said. ‘‘We just have to come out in the second half and finish everything. Everybody watching [sees]
we’re in it.’’
Just like everybody should see a long work in progress.
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