TELANDER: Bears prove to be the worst kind of tease
I think the most painful thing about following the Bears is the utter unpredictability of their fortunes.
Of course, that comes with the caveat that the trajectory of the franchise since its Super Bowl XX championship more than three decades ago has been steadily downward.
But the Bears’ loss Sunday to the Packers ripped at something fundamental in all of us. Specifically, it was a game they should have/could have/needed to win. For us.
The Bears were favored, they were at home, they had a bye week to prepare and heal and the Packers were coming off a short week.
I think every so-called football expert in our city, except contrarian Rick ‘‘Even a Blind Hog Will Find an Acorn Now and Then’’ Morrissey, picked the Bears to win.
And why not? Star Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone. Confused young Brett Hundley was playing in his place. The Bears’ defense was looking solid.
Everyone knew this game could kick-start a so-so Bears season into overdrive. Indeed, a victory would mark the Bears’ third triumph in four games.
Oops. All of us, except Morrissey, shot down in full bloom. The pain came from dashed hopes — realistic hopes, it seemed.
It was reminiscent in its lead-balloon depression of the feeling after the Bears’ season opener against the Falcons. Trailing 23-17 with seconds left in that game, the Bears had a first down at the Falcons’ 5. A joyous comeback victory was nearly in hand.
Oh, brother, a victory would have justified the gazillion dollars spent on free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon, John Fox’s return as coach and the fans’ flickering hope that things would get better.
Then Josh Bellamy and Jordan Howard dropped likely touchdown passes, and everything fell apart on fourth down. Sorry, fans, just another dagger to the heart.
So, as a psychological defense, people stopped believing.
Then the Bears abruptly beat the Ravens on the road in overtime and demolished star quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers at Soldier Field, and hope rekindled.
Then the Packers pulled the Bears’ pants down in a game that was just plain stupid. A near Bears touchdown turned into a Packers touchback, meaning a pylon is as critical to Bears failure as actual game ignorance.
Rookie water bug Tarik Cohen barely played against the Packers. Remember how he was the Bears’ leading rusher and receiver against the Falcons? No? Neither, apparently, does the Bears’ coaching staff.
A letdown like this one brings cries for firing offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, Fox, president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey and maybe even melting the Halas Hall statue of George Halas into pig iron.
It’s just terrible to be teased like this, with the only dependable thing being the inevitable slide to failure.
We have been teased with the health status of guard Kyle Long. He’s ready to play. He’s not ready. He’s running. He’s not running. He played one down against the Packers and is suffering from injuries that might or might not heal.
And don’t even mention the promise at wide receiver. Remember first-round pick Kevin White? Gone after one half of the first game. And 2016 star Cam Meredith? Didn’t make it out of the preseason.
Maybe that stuff’s nobody’s fault. But what about the fact that Hundley, starting only his third NFL game, ate up the Bears’ defense? And he was missing as many offensive weapons as Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky.
Which brings one more party under the grilling lamp. What if Hundley remains a quality quarterback even after Rodgers returns? Bears general manager Ryan Pace will look kind of silly (inept? dumb? ill-prepared?) if he has to explain why he moved up to take Trubisky with the second pick in the draft when the Packers’ backup quarterback is as good, if not better.
Which brings up the biggest doubt of all: Maybe the Bears are such a half-serious, fundamentally flawed organization that whatever they touch turns to dung.
That’s what endless teasing will lead to. The fulfillment of one’s worst fears.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.