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I was just thinking to myself, "Self, we've had some tough losses in recent years, but it's been awhile since we've had a totally unmitigated shit show."
(Shrugs shoulders, grabs chicken wings, takes swig directly from box of wine and begins watching Bears vs. Bucs)
"The Bears are back, baby!" (chomp, chomp, glug, glug) "Jay Cutler is playing it smart, the running game is finally a legit threat and the defense is nearing full strength. It's time to run the table! Playoffs, here we come!!! PA POW!!!!"
(Insert The Price Is Right fail horn.)
That didn't go as planned.
To the untrained eye, this one was shaping up to be another example of what the 2016 Bears personify: in-game inconsistency incarnate.
They give you one competitive half of respectable football, one half that feels (and often smells) like a grease fire at a homeless shelter.
Seemingly case in point, Chicago trailed the Bucs by a single score at the half last Sunday.
On those rare occasions that it wasn't handing it to the opposition, four first-half turnovers neutered an offense that was moving the ball.
Based on the pattern we've been subjected to nearly all season, it felt like the "good" Bears were about to take the field in the third quarter, ready to overcome the seven-point deficit.
But the eye with brains smelled a wire-to-wire fail of epic proportions that would leave a bad taste for weeks to come and you didn't have to be a rocket ophthalmologist to hear where the stink was coming from.
Hint: it was under center.
Jay Cutler's final line: 16 of 30 passes completed for 182 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and two fumbles, though only one fumble was lost.
And he wasn't even that good.
Consider that 50 of those passing yards and the lone TD came on the successful Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
Toss this outlier and you're looking at 15/30 for 132 yards, three turnovers and no scores, which amounts to a QB rating of . . . let's see, when the numerator is divisible by a prime number, carry the five . . . cosign . . . Pythagorean theorem . . . quadrangle . . . solve for "X" and the answer is . . .
Here we go: X=diarrhea.
Like many fans, I've been waiting eight years for Cutler to string together a couple of solid seasons.
I like his skill set and his physical tools. It seemed like a matter of time before he got his act together between the ears.
Last year, the guy looked like he had turned the corner in Adam Gase's offense.
We were assured by management that the same offensive blueprint would remain after Gase's departure and we could expect a further improvement to the Bears' best QB since Sid Luckman*.
A gunslinger refined into a sharpshooter.
Fast forward to 2016 and . . . can we get that Fail Horn again?
Worse yet, with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter the Bears had no real options left at QB to evaluate.
You think anybody needs to see more of Matt Barkley?
Furthermore, you think Fox 'n' Co. cared if Cutler got hurt at that point?
You could argue they were rooting for another thumb injury or busted hammy.
- The Linebackers: Another game, another really good performance by the law offices of Floyd, Freeman, McPhee, Trevathan and Young. I know it's really easy to get lulled into a false (read: justified) sense of despair with this team, but if you're a fan of defense you owe it to yourself to watch these guys.
- When Used, The Running Game: Despite an extremely efficient 100 yards on 15 carries, the Bears deemed it appropriate to stop doing the one thing on offense that was working.
Dowell Loggains, I retract the support of your play-calling I offered last week.
- Dumb F-ing Luck: That Hail Mary heave to close out the half was pretty great, huh guys? Yay tip drills!
What (In This Year's Biggest Understatement To Date) Didn't
- QB = Diarreah: Cha . . . cha . . . cha. We covered that already.
- Performance Enhancing Drugs: Whatever flavor of ground rhino penis Alshon Jeffery was using to treat his latest soft tissue ailment . . .
A) . . . wasn't any more useful than topical ointment composed of Sunny Delight, Ben Gay and transmission fluid (see performance, 2016, re: not enhanced).
B) . . . ultimately cost him more money than the per capita GDP of several small island nations in the Pacific (over $3 million in missed game checks).
C) . . . were unlikely to improve the play of any of the people throwing him the ball (perhaps try performance-enhancing hypnotherapy next time).
- Ball Management: Giving a bunch of balls away - unless you're emceeing a charity event, it's not good.
- Lies (as in, they didn't work): Sure, Jordan Howard also had a turnover. And to that I say in a super insincere tone, "Stop It."
It's beginning to appear that the Bears coaching staff willfully lied about Howard's health, which they did for . . . reasons?
"I'm good, man" said the rookie back after the game in an actual quote that I didn't make up for once.
When asked about the status of Howard's ankle, or achilles or something, John Fox responded (and I'm actually quoting here again because I don't think a comedic insertion is warranted**), "I can't really answer that honestly."
Soooo, Fox is either incapable of answering honestly (probable), or you honestly don't know what the status of your emerging star is (also probable) . . . cool.
Removing my super judgy fan hat for a moment, I will be using that line the next time my wife asks "Did you get take a handful of methamphetamines, do some Jager shots and drive the neighbor's Barbie Power Wheels to the strip club, again?"
Me: "I can't really answer that honestly."
Works pretty well!
- Truth (as in, it doesn't work for me): Perineal Pro-Bowl candidate Kyle Long and important backup Will Sutton are out for the season. So if you needed any more reasons to fire up the part of the brain that governs sports-related apathy, you're welcome.
Eye On The Opposition: They Might Be Giants - No, They Definitely Are, I Googled "NFC New York Football Team"
Circling back to the "gunslinger" types, the New York Giants have a guy on their squad who has a propensity for chuckin' the rock all over the damn place too.
Thing is, he has one of the best receivers in the league to hurl it at and if his trophy case is any indication, his instincts are a bit better than our guy's.
Though to be fair, one of those rings is the result of an instinct screaming "Throw it at David Tyree's face, that thing is sticky as hell" in Super Bowl XLII, but I like that a lot more than the voice in Cutler's head that says "Wave the ball around with your throwing hand where opposing defenders can easily strip it."
The G-Men don't have much of a running game to lean on, but they've beaten some decent teams on their way to a 6-3 record (Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Saints), so it doesn't appear as though they've had to have one.
If watching a competitive team near the top of the trash pile that is the heap known as the NFC doesn't do it for you, consider that the Bears have become a team with half a fuck left to give.
Will this be the game that Jay Cutler finally snaps and for real fires up a Marlboro Red on the sideline?
Or to keep things interesting, will John Fox flip-flop the players on offense and defense?
Tune in this week to find out if Eddie Royal can cover Odell Beckham, or if Harold Jones-Quartey can kick a 40-yard field goal! (Or if the Giants' new kicker, an old friend, can.)
Does Loggains have the sense of honor to commit hara-kiri right there on the sidelines, or will he wait until the postgame press conference?
I know it's a sad state of affairs, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch!
Or more realistically, DVR and fast-forward through after dinner on Sunday night.
Kool-Aid (2 of 5 Manhattans)
Yeah, I'm moving over to drinks that, like my blood, consist of one type of liquor, mixed with another type of liquor, mixed with something bitter.
One of two things is going to happen this week.
The 2016 season becomes an abject disaster in which a bad team loses all cohesion and just runs around the field like pack of rabid lunatics getting paid to hit people with no sense of which team they are on . . .
Or, the Bears continue to fail at even the act of failing itself and submarine their chances of high draft pick by pulling this one out on the road.
Keep in mind, the Fox-era incarnation of the Bears has performed much better on the road than at Soldier Field. Just try not to watch any of last week's action while reminding yourself of that.
I've dug into the unacceptable performance by the Bears last week, but before I predict this weeks' outcome I think it's time to review some of my own game film and evaluate the BAOKAR track record.
I picked the Bears to win against the Eagles, Colts, Jags, Packers and Bucs, while also picking them to lose against the Vikings.
Perhaps I've been a bit (searches for $20 word synonymous with "fucking wrong" that somehow ducks accountability) . . . contrarian?
If 2016 is any indication, I love to be wrong.
So maybe I'm not really doing us any favors by picking the Bears to win.
Here's the bottom line:
If Chicago can generate a great pass rush and the apparently healthy Jordan Howard is used to his fullest potential clock-gobbling and putting points on the board, this game is winnable.
Outside of Beckham, the Giants don't have many good options on offense.
I don't think it'll happen, but a wrong Carl is a happy Carl.
Giants 30, Bears 13
About The Author
The Author understands that you're upset. The Author is upset too. It's a perfectly reasonable reaction to the game you saw on Sunday. But The Author wants you to know that it's important not to overreact. Don't let your (totally justifiable) rage get the best of you. Envision yourself pushing those negative feelings deep, deep down into your feet and letting them buoy you to a higher state of vengeful, er, peaceful existance in which you are free of all earthly concerns. Don't you feel better? The Author (tick) sure does (tick).
* No, Erik Kramer's 1994 season does not count. It's like you saying that "My wife isn't the hottest chick I've dated," but you're only making that grand declaration because you got to second base with a Virginia Tech cheerleader during a one-time visit to a buddy who happened to live in Blacksburg.
** "I don't think a comedic insertion is warranted" is also what your mom said to me last night! BOOM! Oh wait, that's not a flattering portrayal of my junk; redact, redact!
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He tolerates your comments.