Rozner: Bears' long search for playmakers drags on

  • Washington inside linebacker Mason Foster tackles Bears tight end Daniel Brown during the first half on Saturday in Chicago.

    Washington inside linebacker Mason Foster tackles Bears tight end Daniel Brown during the first half on Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/25/2016 6:38 PM

There are better days ahead for the Chicago Bears.

This was the message from head coach John Fox after the Bears fell to 3-12 Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.

 

This was also the message a year ago after the Bears finished 6-10, Fox insisting 2016 would see a considerably better Bears team.

Maybe he'll be right this time after being so wrong last time, but no one would blame you if you looked askance at anything Fox says, since he so rarely gives you anything resembling reality or honesty.

What's certain is the Bears' locker room was a morgue again postgame as they searched for answers and wondered if there was any hope.

The problem, as was the case last year and the year before that and the year before that, is relatively simple, while difficult to solve.

The Bears lack playmakers. Simply put, the Bears don't have many guys who can change a game in an instant.

They don't know who their quarterback will be, and that's kind of a big deal.

They don't have receivers who can make a huge play at any time. Maybe tight end Zach Miller is that guy, and he made some huge plays before he got hurt, but his chemistry is with Jay Cutler, who probably won't return.

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Jordan Howard is a workhorse and looks like a back the Bears can rely on, but is he a game-changer? Maybe he would be if the Bears had an offensive line, and they are far from having one.

While they drafted a wide receiver two years ago -- Kevin White -- a luxury considering their many basic needs at the time, they still need two offensive tackles to protect their quarterback.

Their best player remains Kyle Long, and if a guard is your best player, you probably have a lot of issues.

On defense, who changes a game for the Bears? Who gets to the quarterback? Who steals the football? Who makes the big hit in the secondary? Who makes the big pass deflection or interception?

"They made plays early and that kind of put us in a hole," said Bears safety Adrian Amos, of the explosive Washington offense. "We just have to eliminate those big plays we gave up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We just didn't cover. The corners were by themselves. We just have to execute better -- the safeties, the corners, the entire defense. We just didn't execute. The plays were there to be made. We just didn't make enough of them.

"They have a lot of weapons out there. There's a lot that they do well. We just didn't eliminate the big play today."

Big plays. The Bears give them up and they rarely make them.

Leonard Floyd might become a guy like that, but he still has much to learn and he has to stay on the field.

In the secondary, the Bears don't have a top NFL corner and they don't have a playmaking safety.

After four years of Phil Emery, Ryan Pace, Marc Trestman and John Fox, the Bears have a bunch of guys and very few serious NFL players who can change a game in an instant.

It was staggering to leave the Bears' locker room and head over to the Washington side, which was not only celebrating a dominant victory, but singing and playing and enjoying Christmas Eve as they were about to get on a plane and head home, still alive for the postseason.

But they have playmakers everywhere you look, on both sides of the ball, and an offensive line that sports two Pro Bowlers.

Washington had four named to the Pro Bowl and three as alternates, including corner Josh Norman, who was angry at halftime that the Bears targeted him in the first two quarters and he made them pay in the second half.

That's an 8-6-1 team, essentially a .500 football club if they lose next week, and they're far ahead of the Bears right now.

But if Pace and Fox are back, you wonder if after two years they'll begin to build a football team with the basics, like an offensive line, a pass rush and a safety or three, or will they waste another draft pick on a luxury when they have no time to waste on such players.

Either way, the Bears have much work to do.

What else is new?

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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