How Bears got to 6-6 drives panic
In a week-to-week league like the NFL — which is often reduced to half-to-half or quarter-to-quarter — perspective is difficult to locate, let alone maintain.
And you wonder if the ear-piercing screams heard around these parts with the Bears losing three of four would be nearly as loud had the Bears begun the season 0-3 or 1-2.
Think about the opener, when the Bengals were up 4 points in the fourth and down to the Bears’ 17. A fumble ended the drive and gave the Bears a chance to win the game.
In Week 2, the Vikes were up 3 and driving for a touchdown with a first-and-goal from the 6, when some bad play calls and an incomplete pass led to a field goal and gave the Bears enough time to win the game with 10 seconds left.
At 3-2, the Bears narrowly survived the 0-5 Giants, who had the ball on the Bears’ 35 trailing by 6 points with 2:02 remaining when Eli Manning threw his third interception of the night.
Of course, at 4-3 there’s no way they beat the Packers with Aaron Rodgers, but Shea McClellin knocked the QB out of the game — maybe for the season — and the Bears need not make apologies for that.
At 5-4, they barely handled the Ravens amid the mud and fierce winds at Soldier Field, when Baltimore stopped running the football against a team that can’t stop the run and tried throwing into a 25-mph wind.
But the fact that the Bears were 6-4 may have led people to believe they were better than they were, and that’s part of the reason there’s so much anger today over the Bears’ recent troubles.
At no point this season did the Bears deserve to be over .500, and had their record early in the season been more reflective of their play, expectations would have been low by now and the mistakes they’re making on the field and on the sideline would have long since been dissected and wouldn’t now be as magnified.
The reality is the Bears were not going to win the Super Bowl this season.
It’s only happened three times with first-year head coaches. Two were already on staff (George Seifert, ’89 Niners and Don McCafferty, ’70 Colts) and one (Jon Gruden, ’02 Bucs) inherited a team that had been to the playoffs the previous three seasons and himself been an NFL head coach for four years and been to the playoffs his last two.
If that’s not enough, the Bears had a new offense, new coaches and new personnel. They added to the offense and subtracted from the defense. They’ve been hit hard by injuries and age in a rebuilding season, and they’re actually quite fortunate to be 6-6.
But it’s all about how you get there. Had they won three of the last four to get to 6-6, Bears fans would be excited about 2014, but because they’ve trended down, the sky seems to be falling.
It is not.
Much must be fixed on defense, and the off-season will provide that opportunity.
As for Marc Trestman, he was a genius a month ago and now he’s the local idiot for decisions he’s made the last couple weeks, specifically his choice to kick a field goal on second down in OT Sunday.
Trestman has never been an NFL head coach and he figured to suffer some growing pains. No one knew if he could do the job, including GM Phil Emery, and next year will tell the tale.
In the meantime, what we do know is Trestman has installed an NFL offense and taught Jay Cutler to be a more consistent and better NFL quarterback, two items crucial to competing someday for a Super Bowl.
He has taken a career backup in Josh McCown and made him a productive NFL starter, at least for a few weeks, and going into next season the Bears believe they will have a top-10 offense again.
When’s the last time anyone thought that?
So that’s the good on top of all the bad. Maybe the Bears will get better defensively, maybe they won’t. Maybe Cutler will take the next step and become an elite NFL QB, maybe he won’t. Maybe Trestman will learn and get better as a head coach, maybe he won’t.
Those are questions that arise in a rebuilding year. That’s what you expect from a .500 team. That’s life in the NFL for teams attempting to turn it around quickly.
A year from now, if there aren’t more answers than questions, panic would be an appropriate response.
Å¸Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.