Monday Morning Quarterback: Bears-Eagles (12.22.13)

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I’m not going to spend too much time writing about the Bears’ embarrassing, 54-11 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night, for two reasons. First, it’ll only make me frustrated, upset, disappointed and otherwise unhappy. And with Christmas two days away, I’d like to erase this one from my memory. And second, I turned off the TV after the Bears were down 21-0, so all I have is a stat sheet and the memory of a horrible first quarter to use as reference.

Why did I turn off the TV with so much time remaining? It’s quite simple. The kind of start the Bears had against the Eagles — a poor defensive effort that led to a touchdown and a Devin Hester fumble that led to a touchdown — was very reminiscent of the one they had a few weeks ago against the Rams. In that one, the Bears buried themselves in a deep hole they just couldn’t climb out of. And that was against a bad Rams team. This Eagles group is one of the best offensive teams in football. I wasn’t going to endure the torture I expected — which turned out to be true.

There are just certain games when you get the feeling that your team is out of its league, and this was one of them. Let me preface what I’m going to say next by first saying that the Bears offense was bad. There’s no escaping blame on that side of the football. Are we all clear on that?

With that said, you can’t win football games in the NFL without at least a competent defense. I know that this is the era of offensive football. And the sole reason the Bears are still in position to win the NFC North and make the playoffs is because of their Top 10 offense. But you need at least a competent defense to make a few stops here and there to give your team a chance at winning a championship, and the Bears don’t have that. Especially not against one of the best offenses in football.

The other thing you can’t do is get careless with the football, and Hester’s fumble, which gave the Eagles great field position en route to taking a two-score lead, only further complicated things.

The Bears had everything going right for them heading into this game. The unthinkable happened during the late afternoon games with the Lions blowing another chance, losing by a field goal in overtime to the Giants. They’re out of the playoffs. They’re done. Their annoying little runt of a coach is likely to get canned and we could see some changes to that team. Then, shortly thereafter, the Steelers made a great defensive stand in their own red zone to stop the Packers from tying the game and the Steelers held on for the win. The Packers lost. Their season had one foot in the proverbial grave. All that was needed was a Bears win and then next week’s Bears-Packers showdown was meaningless.

It’s the Christmas season. Whether you believe in Christmas or not, here’s a comparable analysis. What Sunday amounted to was this: close your eyes and imagine a gift you really wanted. Maybe it’s something you’ve received in the past or maybe it’s something you would like to get in the future. All you want is that gift, and nothing else matters. Then, you open the gift and rejoice and celebrate that you have it. It’s right there, in your hands. It’s no longer a hopeful wish or a dream. It’s a reality…

…and then you take the gift, break it in half, and throw it away. Because you’re unworthy of it.

The Bears were presented a great gift when the Packers and Lions both lost. But they were unworthy of that gift and tossed it to the side.

Well, actually, it’s more like they had the gift stolen from them by the big bully down the street.

The Bears still have a shot at winning the division and making the playoffs, but they have to beat the Packers next week at Soldier Field in the season finale. And I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible feeling about that game. With or without Aaron Rodgers, I have a feeling that the Packers will enter Soldier Field, sneak away with the victory, and celebrate in front of a stunned Bears crowd.

This isn’t a 100% accurate comparison, but this game reminds me of two games back in 2010. First, it reminds me of the chance the Bears had to eliminate the Packers from postseason contention. They couldn’t do it, and the Packers got hot and went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Second, it reminds me later that season when the Bears hosted the Packers in the NFC title game and the Packers triumphed over them on the Bears’ home field.

Okay, this Packers team will not go on to win the Super Bowl. There are far too many great teams standing in their way. But they could make some noise with Rodgers back in the lineup.

I am fearful of the second comparison, though. I am fearful of the Packers celebrating on the Bears’ field, ending their season and sending them home for the long winter. Is it any coincidence that the last Bears game — before Sunday night’s disastrous loss to the Eagles — for which I turned off the TV early was that 2010 NFC Championship game against the Packers? I rarely do that. I will usually sit through every game — such as that ugly loss to the Rams earlier this season — unless I have the utmost confidence the Bears are going to lose.

And come next Sunday afternoon, I fear I might be turning off the TV early for the unthinkable second time in two weeks.

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