Don't try to brighten my spirits with the fact that they can still make the playoffs with a win next this Sunday against the Packers. After last night's showing, do you really think this team, especially this "defense" (and I use that term lightly), will do anything against the top tier of the NFC? They'd likely just bow out in an embarrassing first round loss, one that closely resembles last night's.
Perfect, the Bears have brought out my inner Scrooge just in time for the holidays... I tried to be optimistic. I really did. You think I would know better by now.
They even got some awesome early gifts from the Packers and the Lions. And yet they laid an egg of historic proportions against a team that literally had nothing to play for.
Allow me to introduce a hashtag here: #TypicalChicagoSportsMove (except you, Blackhawks. You guys buck the trend. Thank you for that ray of hope.)
Here's a collection of random, depressing thoughts and stats resulting from last night's trouncing at the hands of the Eagles. I'm sure you'll enjoy!
- After the Bears went three and out to start the game, it took the Eagles all of five minutes and 12 seconds to hang 14 points up on the board.
- The Bears offense only had the ball for four minutes and 44 seconds in the first quarter. They gained a grand total of 34 yards. So much for that "explosive offense."
- On the flip side, the Eagles offense racked up 21 plays of 10+ yards, including a string of four straight in the second quarter. It seemed like they were moving the chains on every other down. I haven't seen an offense this efficient since the Peyton Manning/Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne days in Indy.
- The Bears coughed up three fumbles, the most since Week 12 against St. Louis (another game where they allowed 40+ points and lost). Sure, they only lost one of them, but a lack of ball security is a bad omen. Especially when the one fumble you lose comes at a crucial point when your team is trying to recover from an early deficit.
- I honestly had no idea what Marc Trestman was doing with his play calling yesterday. I saw shades of John Shoop's pathetic offensive scheme. For the first five plays on offense, the ball either never left Cutler's hand (sack or short gain after the pocket collapsed) or it went to Matt Forte for a short gain on the ground. And then in the third and fourth quarters, they called the motion option play to Alshon Jeffery about seven or eight times. I feel like Trestman was over on the sidelines like an angry grade school kid saying, "you think your option offense is so cool! We have tricky plays too!" Except when you run that play a thousand times, it tends to not be so surprising to the defense. I understand that Trestman can't go out and complete passes or take handoffs, just like Mel Tucker can't go out there and tackle LeSean McCoy by himself. But the play-calling was as much to blame as the players executing the plays all the way around.
- Speaking of the pathetic defense, I can honestly say I've never seen a sadder bunch in Orange and Navy. Just take a look at their rankings from 2012 to this year. Last year the team ranked third in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed; this season, the team is currently 30th in points allowed and 29th in yards. Last year, the team ranked first in the NFL with 44 turnovers forced, including 20 fumble recoveries. This season, the unit ranks 13th with 26 turnovers forced, and only 9 of those being fumble recoveries. Where are you, Charles Tillman?!?!?
- Oh right, he's injured... I understand injuries have hampered the defense immensely. He'll be out for the rest of the season and the playoffs (if they exist). But the guys who have returned, and even the guys who never left, have been a shell of themselves. Remember how much of an impact Lance Briggs was supposed to have in his return? He had one tackle. One. Julius Peppers has averaged over 10 sacks a season in his career, but only has six and a half this season (that equates to $1,523,076.92 per sack, for whoever's wondering). And after we dubbed Tim Jennings the President of the Universe last season for leading the league with nine picks, he's regressed to the mean and has only snatched three interceptions this year.
- These personnel issues have made this defense the league's worst in terms of yards allowed. If the trend keeps going next week, this will be the first time that a Bears team would rank dead last in the league in rushing yards allowed. The first time. Ever.
- It doesn't stop there with the pathetic run defense. The team has let up 70 rushing plays of 10+ yards coming in to the game, and the Eagles added another 11 to the list yesterday.
- But wait, there's more! The Eagles racked up 289 rushing yards, marking the fourth time the defense has allowed 200+ rushing yards this season. Before this year, the last time the team allowed more than 200 yards on the ground was Week 7 in 2009. They've given up 100+ yards on the ground in 11 of their 15 games. Two Eagles running backs eclipsed that mark yesterday (LeSean McCoy - 133, Bryce Brown - 115).
- Outside of beating the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, the Bears haven't beaten a single opponent that has more than eight wins. It's entirely possible that they could end the year having only beaten one team above .500. Not playoff material in my book.
- For anyone foolish enough to consider the late sub-in of Josh McCown as a reason to start another "quarterback controversy," just stop. Trestman has shown that he'll stick to his guns, even if there was a literal gun to his head. Subbing in McCown in garbage time actually reinforces the idea that Cutler is the starter. He was subbed in to save Cutler from a possible injury to ensure he'd start next week against the Packers, not because Trestman thought McCown could lead a miraculous comeback.
- The 54 points the Eagles hung on the Bears was the second-worst point total allowed in franchise history. Outside of a 55 to 20 drubbing at the hands of Detroit Lions in 1997, this was the worst loss point-wise that the Bears have ever been dealt. It's also the fourth time the team has allowed 40+ points this season. The last time they let up 40+ points was Week 9 in 2009, and it hasn't happened four times since 1952.
- The offense isn't exempt from the vitriol: the offensive line let up five sacks, a season high. The 61 rushing yards were a season low, while the 196 passing yards was the second lowest total this season.
I hate to say it, but it's pretty clear that the defensive struggles are a historically bad trend rather than a one-time mishap. Yes, you must have an explosive offense to win in this league, and that's exactly what the Bears have. But the old cliche "the best defense is a good offense" only goes so far. You need some kind of defense, and the Bears just don't have a lick of luck, talent or health on that side of the ball this season.
Even if the Bears do make the playoffs this season, I'm more excited for the offseason, Phil Emery pulled together a franchise record-breaking offense in only a matter of months, and now he can focus on building up the defense. Well, after he resolves Cutler's contract issues.
But allow me to go back to my Cubs fan roots for a moment. Say it with me now: "wait 'til next year." The team was handed the division title on a silver platter, and they pretty much stood up and punched the guy holding that platter square in the mouth.
This team clearly doesn't want it. So they won't get it.
*Stats collected via ProFootballReference.com and NFL.com