The muck of the Bears’ season turned from metaphorical to literal when they arrived at Soldier Field amid cold and rain to see a 25-yard-wide swath of brown down the middle of the field from one end zone to the other.
It took two snaps before running back David Montgomery slipped on whatever you’d call the playing surface — grass certainly isn’t the word for it — and stumbled for four yards when there were many more to take. It was the start of a muddled mess for the Bears on their way to a 33-22 loss the Cardinals.
The afternoon was emblematic of their season — sloppy, maddening and rife with self-sabotage.
They were going to lose this game either way. The only question was how circuslike and indicting the defeat would be. Every great opponent the Bears have faced this season has smashed them, and coach Matt Nagy had nothing when asked how he could convince anyone — even himself — that they have any shot next week against the Packers.
“Just keep fighting,” he said, beginning a predictably empty answer. “Let the guys know we’re in this thing together. The only thing we can do is keep fighting and sticking together. I know it can sound old. I know it can sound monotonous. I gotcha. But that’s all we can do.”
It’s monotonous because it never has any substance.
The combination of poor roster construction, injuries and Nagy’s blunders have left the Bears in a position where they aren’t consistently good at anything.
Everything about them is broken, even the radio communication system between Nagy and quarterback Andy Dalton. It scrambled in the second half and set up a humbling, comical scene in which Nagy received play calls from offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, his subordinate, in the booth and relayed them to Dalton via a walkie-talkie and hand signals.
It was the second home game in a row in which the Bears had that problem. Maybe they ran out of AAA batteries. Does anyone know what’s going on?
“I don’t,” Nagy said. “I wish I did.”
Speaking of malfunctions and mysteries, there was a mountain of them on offense.
Immediately after Montgomery’s tumble, Dalton fired a fastball to Jakeem Grant that glanced off his fingertips right to safety Jalen Thompson to set up an eventual touchdown pass by Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
The Bears signed Dalton specifically because they were sure he was too smart to make mistakes such as throwing high, hard and behind in the rain to a 5-7 receiver with a history of unreliable hands. It was his first of four picks.
Their next possession ended with an interception, too, but that wacky debacle wasn’t Dalton’s fault. Tight end Cole Kmet coughed up the ball as he hit the ground at the Cardinals’ 10-yard line, and safety Budda Baker plucked it from the air.
Nagy wavered between accountability — this wasn’t the first football game ever played in rain — and using weather as an excuse.
“Weather was involved, but our guys know you’ve got to really look the football in [and] you’ve got to be secure with what you do,” he said. “And for us, right now, we don’t have room for error with that offensively.”
Or defensively. Remember the vicious defense that spurred the Bears to an NFC North title in 2018 and kept them afloat the last two seasons? It’s history.
All the disorder and incompetence on -display in this loss was a snapshot of what has been happening all season.
It started with Nagy’s taking it unnecessarily slowly with rookie Justin Fields, hampering a quarterback who would take over the starting job in Week 3. It continued with -Nagy’s playing hot potato with play-calling and the Bears’ allowing a four-paragraph report on something called Patch.com to torpedo them ahead of the Lions game.
They were in quicksand Sunday on the weathered turf at Soldier Field, and they’re sinking into it as an organization, too.