Imrem: Yes, Chicago Bears can get even worse

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Chris Conte (23) celebrates with middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) after Conte returned an interception by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Chris Conte (23) celebrates with middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) after Conte returned an interception by Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.

 
 
Updated 11/13/2016 6:32 PM

Yes, Chicago Bears fans, it really did get worse Sunday at Tampa.

The Bears really did come out of a bye week looking like they spent it pigging out instead of practicing.

 

Jay Cutler really did turn over the ball three times in the first half.

Ex-Bears safety Chris Conte really did return a Cutler interception for a touchdown.

Kyle Long and various teammates really did leave with injuries after the Bears came in at their healthiest all season.

The Bears really did gain momentum with a Hail Mary touchdown at the end of the first half only to squander it immediately after halftime.

The Bears' reportedly improving defense really did surrender a 17-play, 10-minute, touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Finally, the Bears really did lose 36-10 to a reeling Buccaneers team that gave up 73 points while losing their previous two games.

"Our whole team was off," Bears coach John Fox said before adding of Cutler, "I don't want to put it on one guy."

Why not? The Bears 11-year veteran was badly outplayed by Bucs second-year quarterback Jameis Winston.

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Even while trailing, Bears defenders Akiem Hicks and Pernell McPhee still embarrassingly trash-talked Tampa Bay's QB.

That came after the Bears boasted all week that they still were in playoff contention.

At 1 p.m. Central, silly me, it seemed appropriate to scoreboard watch.

The Bears trailed already, but these were the Bucs and a comeback victory was anticipated.

Meanwhile, NFC North-leading Minnesota was on the way to losing at Washington, Green Bay was on the way to losing at Tennessee, and Detroit was on their bye week at home.

My goodness, the Bears were about to pick up ground on everyone in the division.

Well, fool me once, shame on the Bears; fool me twice … uh, what words am I searching for?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Oh, yeah, the words are "the Bears stink."

It doesn't matter that the schedule looks easy the rest of way because the Bears make it easy for their opponents.

This team is 2-7 and can stop using "Bears" and "playoffs" in the same sentence.

Reality screams that "Bears" and "rebuilding" make more sense as the Bears assemble a few young, serviceable pieces.

There are outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and running back Jordan Howard. There are center Cody Whitehair and a few more players who just might make names for themselves.

What there isn't is a quarterback of the future.

"I didn't play well," Cutler understated. "Too many turnovers. That many turnovers, it's hard to win."

As former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said when the Bears were preparing for Super Bowl XLI, a team needs a franchise quarterback to sustain success.

Rex Grossman wasn't that then. Jay Cutler isn't that now. Jameis Winston is almost that today and should be tomorrow.

On one key play, Winston scrambled all over the field before completing a long pass to franchise receiver Mike Evans.

The Bucs took a 24-10 lead on that drive and the game all but ended right there. So did the Bears' playoff fantasy and essentially their season.

All that's left is the rebuild, which judging by this performance the Bears might want to execute in private.

In public, the Bears really do look like they could keep getting worse before they get better.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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