So at what point in yesterday's debacle did you turn off the game? First quarter after the Patriots first two touchdowns? Second quarter, after the Patriots immediately answered a Bears touchdown with their fourth? Jay Cutler's sack/fumble that also went returned for a touchdown? The interception to close the half?
You wouldn't be blamed for any of those.
Last night, when I went to start writing this piece, I had a conversation with a friend of mine that, when paraphrased, resulted in this tweet, because I had to share my feelings directly about writing about this game.
*Sits down to write Notes* Guyyyys, I had a fun night, I don't want to make myself angry... ... I have to make myself angry, don't I. #Bears— Steven Schweickert (@SJS_illini) October 27, 2014
But as much as I try, I can't get angry about yesterday's horrifying defeat at the hands of the Patriots. Instead, it felt like a couple of other things. Resignation. Like we witnessed the execution of the Bears season, the guillotine crashing right down on the "and" in the middle of the record, as if to say "Don't bother."
Often, I find myself one of the last holdouts when it comes to making changes in staff and players. But even if changes were made, it's hard to say those changes can result in anything. I could get angry if I felt that there were things that could change the outcome of yesterday's game, but I don't.
Rob Gronkowski had himself a game, and the Bears were utterly powerless to stop him.
Al Louis-Jean was beaten like a drum when Kyle Fuller left the game, his hip pointer too much to overcome. Tim Wright had a career game. Brandon LaFell was outstanding. Needless to say, Tom Brady was as on point as Touchdown Tom can possibly be.
The Bears' pass rush failed to get home. Until the backup quarterback was in. And after picking up that sack, Lamarr Houston injured his knee celebrating Stephen Tulloch-style.
The Bears offense as a whole was simply slapped aside until garbage time, as the Patriots took back their ball and scored yet more touchdowns. By the time the first turnover hit, the game was already out of hand and out of reach. And yet the touchdowns would not stop. The Bears' production in garbage time only served to drive the Patriots to score more points and make the Bears feel slightly better about a bad offensive performance when it mattered.
Against that flood, what can a team as deeply flawed as the Bears hope to do?
These are your Chicago Bears right now - A team that has, in no particular order:
- A healthy linebacking corps consisting of a converted first round draft pick, an undrafted free agent, and DJ Williams, as well as a benched fourth round pick from last year.
- Another undrafted free agent pressed into duty against a number one NFL receiver.
- Allegations against one wide receiver giving up on routes late in the blowout.
- An offensive gameplan that as of right now probably resembles Ron Turner's coloring book
- A defensive line that manages nothing except the aforementioned sack on Jimmy Garoppolo
- A complete inability to account for Rob Gronkowski (although this is a problem most teams share).
First question to Marshall: "Why did it look like you were quitting on routes today, and is that acceptable?" #Bears— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein) October 26, 2014
This is a team that can fight its way back to the playoff hunt? Not if the last two consecutive "rock bottom" losses are any indication.
Not when a team can march up and down the field at will on your defense.
Not when the offense manages seven points in the first half. Especially when you follow up a 77-yard touchdown drive with two negative-yardage drives - or 14 yards on first-half drives that aren't the touchdown drive.
This is a game that got out of hand fast, and stayed out of hand. How did it get to that point?
- The Offense: I know a lot of people take any offensive downturn as a reason to bash on Jay Cutler. Cutler did not play well until garbage time (well, except for that aforementioned-77-yard drive). Cutler's receivers did him no favors - Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were effectively silenced, especially Marshall's 3 receptions on ten targets. This team is no stranger to slow offensive starts, especially lately, and normally, it's possible to recover. Not so when...
- The Defense: ... the defense has absolutely no answer for anything the Patriots are throwing at them. Doubling Gronkowski could have been a solution there, but Brady is too good to not be able to hit Brandon LaFell in single coverage against Al Louis-Jean, especially with no pass rush and a linebacking corps made up of dried up duct tape. The Bears executed a four-down goal-line stand in the first quarter, which turned out to be the biggest defensive play of the game for them.
- Coaching: The offensive gameplan to start with the run was not unacceptable, though some execution on the parts of Cutler and his receivers could have helped. But Bill Belichick got Trestman on the timeouts in the first half to score a touchdown (using one to get some extra time to score a touchdown), and the offensive gameplan and playcalling seemed to continue to have its "out of touch" moments. And Mel Tucker's gameplan of letting Gronkowski go wtihout so much as a check at the line really worked out.
The problem is everything. Everything played a role in the game getting far out of hand. And everything played a role in keeping it there. That's how bad this game was. Let's do a few bullets and put this to bed:
- Matt Forte had another excellent game; another thought I had on this, are teams selling out to stop Jeffery, Marshall and Bennett knowing that all the heavy Forte production doesn't mean the Bears will win? Jeffery and Marshall have had guys in their back pockets closing them down at any opportunity and succeeding at it. It also doesn't hurt that Forte was the beneficiary of extra work in garbage time to get those stats.
- I was wondering out loud on Twitter if Christian Jones is the team's best healthy linebacker. I'm not sure there are many arguments otherwise.
- Chris Conte managed to not break in half in tackling Gronkowski.
- Shea McClellin, like many other defensive players, did not have a good game; however, on the touchdown to Gronkowski where he was victimized, there aren't many (if any) linebackers stopping a perfect touch toss over the target's head straight into their hands.
- Cutler threw for 227 yards. Gronkowski and LaFell totaled 273 receiving yards. Also, there was way too much Cutler discussion about his role in this game going bad.
- Martellus Bennett as the team's leading receiver: Well, someone has to come through in that deep of a hole.
- Rob Gronkowski just caught another pass. He's pretty good at the football.
- I had not heard of Jonas Gray until this week / today's game. I now know way too much about Jonas Gray.
- Chris Williams had a 28-yard return. Robbie Gould kicked an extra point and the Bears converted two two-point conversions. I know, silver linings.
- Julian Edelman had a huge 42-yard punt return. Not a silver lining.
- Michael Ola got the start in place of Jordan Mills; he wasn't bad.
And that's it. There really isn't much to say; this was a beatdown. Ideally, it's just one game down the tubes, but time is running out to put things together, given the varying degrees of rock bottom the team's already faced. It's the bye week, so hopefully they put something together against the Packers.