I can’t wrap my head around the possibility of a 6-6 record for the Bears without feeling an overwhelming need to take a shower.
It seems almost un-American for so sorry of an NFL team to be within striking distance of .500. Oh, I know all about parity in the league and how wonderful it is that anyone can beat anyone else on any given Sunday. Or Thursday. This isn’t about parity. This is about a lousy football team playing lousy football five games in a row. Calling the Bears “mediocre’’ isn’t an insult to mediocrity. It’s a two-by-four to mediocrity’s head.
But a victory over the struggling Lions on Thanksgiving would put them at 6-6. It’s hard to see them beating 7-4 Detroit on the road, but it could happen, I suppose, in the way that spontaneous combustion can happen. If it does, oh, boy, watch out. I can’t shake the image of a suddenly chatty Brandon Marshall challenging us skeptics to a boxing match as part of his new Anti-Whatever-It-Is-This-Time campaign. Perhaps to wipe out the scourge of doubting him.
Before we get to the potential chest thumping from the team and a surge in belief levels from their fans with a victory Thursday, it’s worth going back over those last five games to understand exactly what we’re dealing with here, lest we forget. We are not dealing with a team on the verge of anything positive. There are no signs of something good about to happen. There is, however, a sign with an arrow that says “Hell.’’
So, those five games. Get out your hazmat suits:
Miami, Oct. 19 – A nice summation of the day: The defense allows Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to gain 30 yards on fourth-and-one in the third quarter. After the 27-14 loss, the Bears start to go off the rails, with Marshall screaming at teammates, including quarterback Jay Cutler, and guard Kyle Long criticizing fans at Soldier Field for booing.
New England, Oct. 26 — The Bears move up in class, and before the first few rounds are over in Foxborough, Mass., the Patriots lead 38-7. New England becomes one of only four teams since 1970 to score three touchdowns in less than a minute. The final score, 51-23, really doesn’t do the mauling justice. The Bears are exposed as a disorganized team with an awful defense.
Green Bay, Nov. 9 – The one thing you can’t do if you’re the Bears, they do. They get blown out by the hated Packers 55-14. Calls for the heads of coach Marc Trestman, general manager Phil Emery, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and any available McCaskey are raised to the heavens. The Bears, as is their habit, stare blankly back at the world.
Minnesota, Nov. 16 – The Bears fall behind 10-0 in the first quarter to the remarkably unremarkable Vikings. Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks every bit the rookie, but the Bears still have trouble putting away their opponents. Cutler throws for 330 yards and three touchdowns at Soldier Field, but tosses two interceptions and easily could have had two more in the 21-13 victory. The Bears walk away more dazed than uplifted.
Tampa Bay, Nov. 23 – The Bucs and coach Lovie Smith come to Chicago with one of the worst defenses in the league, and the Bears manage only 68 yards of offense in the first half. They again get behind 10-0. They again end up winning 21-13, despite having only 204 yards of offense. The defense plays well against an awful Bucs’ offense. The players seem happy afterward. No one is sure why.
Five ugly games and no good reason to think an upset over the Lions is on the way. But … what if?
Here’s what: If the Bears win Thursday, a few players will say there’s no room on the bandwagon for all the people who jumped off. Lots of fans will insist they never jumped off. The sensible fans will say they wouldn’t jump back on the bandwagon if you offered to pay off their mortgages and fix their kids’ teeth.
Whatever happens Thursday, this team is going nowhere. You can’t fix the defense this season. The offense has turned into a bunch of dump-off passes to running back Matt Forte. Either the Bears officially don’t trust Cutler anymore or Trestman has officially misplaced his imagination.
There are people who subscribe to Bill Parcells’ philosophy of being exactly what your record says you are. But if the Bears get to 6-6, their record will be a big, fat liar.