Bears are who we thought they were
As honeymoons go, Marc Trestman just had the equivalent of a month in Maui and a couple weeks in Tahiti.
Yeah, it was pretty comfy and very warm.
And then this week, the Bears’ head coach stepped in a giant pile of nonsense, and it’s just not easy to scrape that off your shoe.
That’s how honeymoons end.
A breath of fresh air since he got here for a realistic approach not seen around these parts for some time, Trestman suggested after the Bears were pounded by the Rams that it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
Specifically, he defended Michael Bush in short yardage, saying, essentially, that the offensive line let him down, but then defended the offensive line after its worst performance of the year.
Josh McCown was hit harder and more often in any quarter of the St. Louis game than all the other time he’s spent on the field this year.
But, said Trestman, “Our offensive line played an outstanding football game.”
Sorry, but that’s just absurd. That’s, like, Lovie Smith absurd. And it was really out of character. After all, Trestman has been the guy this year trying to temper expectations.
He was the one who stayed on an even keel when the Bears were 3-0 and could have easily been 1-2. He tried to manage the euphoria when the Bears were 4-2 and could have been 2-4. He seemed to understand that at 6-4 the Bears were lucky to be .500.
That’s why it was so unusual to hear him make statements that were either dishonest or delusional. The offensive line has been much improved this year but was terrible in that game. Fans aren’t stupid. You watch the games and you know what you’re seeing.
But it all comes down to expectations, and it’s hard to believe that Trestman and GM Phil Emery had grand expectations for 2013.
They began last spring with a franchise that had ignored the offensive side of the ball for a decade, but you can’t have an offense without a quarterback, and you can’t win the Super Bowl without an offense.
So the first question Trestman had to ask was about Jay Cutler, and the only way to answer it was to first put a legit offense around him. The Bears poured all of their resources into improving the offensive line and adding weapons around Cutler, and Trestman has discovered that Cutler is his guy — whether you’ve bought into Cutler or not.
In the process, the Bears knew the defense would suffer, and not just because of the money and picks spent on the offense. They were old at many spots, and where they weren’t old they were bad or inexperienced.
You know what you call that? Rebuilding. It’s why I picked the Bears to finish .500 this season and called it a rebuilding year.
The Bears can’t say that out loud, but that’s what they were doing, and this off-season they’ll focus on the defense.
Thing is, it’s easier to find a couple of defensive specialists through the draft or free agency than it is to find a No. 1 quarterback and halfback, build an entire offensive line, and collect weapons at receiver and tight end.
But that brings us back to expectations. You could argue that they should have lost to the Bengals, Vikings or Giants, and if the Ravens had simply continued to run the ball on a muddy mess instead of trying to throw in a hurricane, the Bears would have lost that one, too.
St. Louis merely did what Baltimore got away from, which was pound it down the Bears’ throats.
Even without all the injuries, the Bears weren’t going to be good on defense this year. They had no margin for error, and when you throw in the injuries to players like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Henry Melton, it’s pretty much a disaster.
The run defense is now a big topic of conversation because of the way St. Louis won, but the defense was there to be had and someone finally took it to them.
Frankly, it’s shouldn’t be a huge surprise, unless expectations were too high coming into the season, or the 3-0 start caused a change in thinking.
So hysterics aside in the wake of the Rams defeat, there’s not a lot shocking here and the Bears are fortunate to be 6-5.
Marc Trestman would be well served to remember that, and give voice to it, as he did early in the season.
Pretending otherwise does not advance the cause.
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