So much for Bears rebuilding

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Washington free safety Will Blackmon intercepts a pass intended for Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery during fourth-quarter action Saturday at Soldier Field. Washington's defense had five interceptions in a 41-21 victory.

    Washington free safety Will Blackmon intercepts a pass intended for Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery during fourth-quarter action Saturday at Soldier Field. Washington's defense had five interceptions in a 41-21 victory. Washington Post

 
 
Updated 12/25/2016 5:51 PM

Well, so much for the Bears defense providing a foundation for a rebuilding job that obviously still has a long way to go, even after two years under G.M. Ryan Pace and coach John Fox.

In back-to-back breakdowns, the Bears have permitted 71 points and 929 yards, the defense's worst two-game stretch of the season. Against Washington on Saturday, the Bears allowed a season-worst 478 yards. The previous worst came a week earlier, when the Packers rolled up 451 yards.

 

The Bears were gashed for 454 yards on the ground in the past two weeks against teams that ranked 15th and 18th in rushing yards.

"A lot of it is who you're playing," Fox said Saturday after his team allowed a season-high 41 points. "How you execute and the matchups, you have to be reflective of that. You're going to run into those type of games. That's why they call it a team game. You have to have all three phases operating on all cylinders."

In other words, the Bears cannot defeat a good team. Their only victory in the last seven games came against the 2-13 San Francisco 49ers.

Fox and his staff have frequently talked of making progress after taking over the 5-11 dumpster fire left by G.M. Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman. They improved by one game, to 6-10 in a 2015 season, but they have backpedaled to 3-12.

It would seem impossible to put enough spin on that to make it look like progress, but that hasn't stopped Fox from trying.

"Sometimes," Fox said, "when you come into a situation, you take some steps back before you take some steps forward. In my opinion, we are in a way better position to be in striking distance moving forward."

Maybe the 39,837 who showed up at Soldier Field on Saturday believe that, but it would be a tough sell to an unbiased observer. Saturday's 20-point loss was the Bears' second-most-lopsided defeat of the season.

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Fox was asked on Saturday for signs that point to progress.

"You look at our division, you look at some of the scores in our division two years ago," Fox said. "You look at some of the statistics, in particular, defensively. You look at the age of the football team two years ago. With that comes some growing pains. These things weren't built in a day."

Or in two years, apparently.

It's true the Bears are younger. But, if they're not any better, what's the point?

It's true they have avoided the embarrassing losses that defined Trestman's final year, in which the Bears were outscored 93-31 by the Packers. This year the Packers outscored the Bears by "just" 56-37 but had the same 0-2 record.

Even if the Bears defeat the Vikings in Week 17, they would have to go 10-6 for the next three seasons for Fox to get back to .500 as the Bears' coach.

But another season like this one, and he'll never get the chance.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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