I’d like to say that there were no surprises Sunday, that watching the Cardinals pound the Bears 33-22 was the expected result. But it’s the ghastly way the Bears lost that was remarkable. And given how ghastly this season has been, that’s saying something. I thought they had run out of ghast.
Andy Dalton threw four interceptions. That’s four, as in four. You kind of felt bad for the Cardinals defenders who didn’t manage to pick off a pass.
Blame it all on Dalton if you want. Blame it on the rain that fell at Soldier Field, making the ball slippery. Blame it on Dalton’s headset acting up in the second half. Blame it on whatever you want. That’s the point, isn’t it? It’s always something with this team. Sometimes it’s the defense. Sometimes it’s the quarterback (pick a quarterback). Sometimes it’s the coaching. Sometimes it’s a lack of talent.
This time, the culprit was a wheelbarrow of interceptions. Next time, it will be — I don’t know — tainted omelets from the pregame meal.
For coach Matt Nagy, it was another nail in a coffin already studded with them. There was no energy to this game. Even Dalton’s interceptions didn’t seem to do much to incite the ‘‘Fire Nagy!’’ crowd. The game sat there like a deflated balloon. Wouldn’t the humane thing be to put this season out of its misery? Of course. But I checked, and it’s against NFL rules.
It meant we had to listen to Nagy torturously use the concept of team character to try to offset Dalton’s bad day.
‘‘Four turnovers are going to hurt,’’ he said. ‘‘Our guys know that, and they care.’’’
Listen, Matt, caring is the absolute baseline for any athlete who happens to be breathing. Patting players on the back for caring is like handing out participation trophies. What makes players and teams excellent is much, much more than that. It’s about skill, intelligence, coaching and good drafting, among other things.
The Bears might be the caringest (new word) team in the league, but they’re 4-8.
Nobody cares about caring.
On Thanksgiving, the Bears beat the inconsequential Lions 16-14 to end a five-game losing streak. Nagy acted as though it were a rousing referendum on all he had done in his almost four seasons with the team. The loss Sunday to Kyler Murray and the NFC-leading Cardinals was further proof that the Lions game was a joke, not that any more proof was needed.
The Bears aren’t going to the playoffs, OK? Stop with the nonsense that they’re still mathematically alive. I’m statistically alive for the Mr. Universe title. Why keep hope alive when there’s barely a pulse? What’s the point? Surely it’s not that you want Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace to keep their jobs.
Only the Bears could turn a season of hope about an exciting rookie quarterback into a funeral procession. Only the Bears could turn the exclamation points about Justin Fields into question marks. Fields sat out his second consecutive game with cracked ribs. The only thing you could say — and you’d want to say it carefully and quietly — is that he might not have thrown four picks against the Cardinals. But it says a lot about his lack of development this season that you wouldn’t want to make any grander assertions.
Unfortunate things seem to attach themselves to struggling teams. Before facing the Lions, it was an erroneous report that the Bears’ brass had told Nagy he was going to be fired after the game. That created a firestorm. This week, it was the radio communication between Dalton and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor going out in the second half. Nagy used a walkie-talkie to relay Lazor’s plays to Dalton for most of the half.
It’s always something.
But, as Nagy very much wants you to know, his players care a lot. The amount of care and devotion the Bears have for each other apparently is off the charts.
‘‘Ain’t going to be no moping around,’’ running back David Montgomery said after the game. ‘‘I ain’t built like that.’’
No, he’s not. It often takes two or three defenders to tackle him. But it helps — a lot — that he’s also an excellent athlete. The Bears could use more of those. And a star quarterback would be wonderful, too. That might end up being Fields. Who knows? I don’t. Nor do you or whoever might be in charge of the team after this season.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean to disparage Dalton’s athleticism. Did any other NFL quarterback have two tackles after interceptions Sunday?