Imrem: Pride, integrity all that's left for Bears
This might just be a case of the imagination drifting toward the dark side.
Everything about the Bears conjures negativity now. They squandered all benefit of the doubt awhile ago.
The Bears were overwhelmed again Thursday afternoon, this time during a 34-17 loss at Detroit.
So much of this game was ugly, but a couple of scenes made the Bears look even worse, either in fact or in the mind's eye.
The first came in the fourth quarter when Willie Young sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Young's effort was nullified by a penalty for flying into Stafford's head. The Lions were awarded a first down and scored three plays later.
Fair enough. Young can't be condemned for an infraction that essentially was due to hard work. Ah, but then it looked like he peeked back to see whether a flag was thrown.
Young went ahead with his patented "fishing" celebration act anyway … perhaps for personal reasons while playing against his former team.
Another annoyance occurred in the game's final minute with the Lions leading by three scores.
Martellus Bennett and Brandon Marshall caught a pass apiece and didn't try to get out of bounds to save time on the clock.
The plays had nothing to do with the game's outcome. All the Bears could accomplish then was a meaningless touchdown.
But wouldn't pride compel the Bears to try to score again, if only to make the final margin look more respectable?
"We never have anyone give up," said Bennett, and he, Marshall and Young normally are above reproach.
OK, so maybe the Lions wouldn't let Marshall and Bennett get out of bounds. Maybe the receivers simply were fighting for more yards toward a touchdown.
Maybe Willie Young didn't see the flag on the turf. Maybe he celebrated what he thought was a legitimate sack.
Again, though, in such a dismal season -- 5-7 and little chance of making the playoffs -- the perception is that everything the Bears do is wrong.
Even good intentions look bad when lofty expectations are buried under a pile of mistakes, injuries and questionable coaching.
"It's frustrating," running back Matt Forte said of the Bears' predicament.
It should be pointed out right here that Forte is one player whose motives never are under suspicion.
He added, "Guys have to do some soul searching and see how we want to play the rest of the season."
Bears players insisted that they will play their four remaining games with pride, passion and professionalism.
Quarterback Jay Cutler said, "With the guys we have, with their character and integrity, I don't think anybody's going to quit."
We'll see about that now that the goal is to finish above .500 instead of to qualify for the postseason.
The truth is that character, integrity and pride might not matter even if they do permeate the Bears' roster.
Whatever the reasons, this simply isn't a good football team. The Bears might not be capable of achieving mediocrity.
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of times," Forte said. "We have to go out and play the way we know we can play."
The Bears' next chance is against the Cowboys in Soldier Field next Thursday.
Their intangibles will be scrutinized, though at this point a fan's tattered imagination might not allow for a clear assessment.