Bears

Presented By Mullin
Bears

One veteran observer had the right question afterwards: When was the last time the Bears lost a 13-point lead going into the fourth quarter?

The exact “when” really wasn’t the real question, of course, although the answer is, four times since 1940:

Sept. 19, 1999 vs Seattle 13-0….13-14.

Oct. 4, 1992 at Minnesota 20-0….20-21.

Sept. 25, 1965 vs. LA Rams 28-9….28-30.

And Sunday. If the past is any sort of prologue, the 1999 team finished 6-10; the ’92 team, Mike Ditka’s last, wound up 5-11. The 1965 team rebounded from that Rams loss to go 9-5.

The Bears this time lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) despite leading 13-0 to start the fourth quarter, the second time (Houston, week one) that the Bears have had a lead after three quarters and lost. And with a game at Green Bay Thursday and against Minnesota in Chicago 11 days later, the Bears (1-5) have played themselves right back to the edge of the abyss and a 1-7 mark at midseason.

“I don’t know what it is,” lamented right guard Kyle Long. “But I know that there are spurts where we play well enough to win, and there are spurts where it looks like we don’t know what the hell we’re doing.”

The Jacksonville game falls squarely into that latter group.

The befuddling aspect of the current Bears situation is that it is happening amid backup quarterback Brian Hoyer playing beyond reasonable expectations and delivering a fourth straight game of 300 passing yards – and not all yards at garbage time when a game is reduced to random football flinging.

 

And yet the net result is an offense incapable of piercing a goal line or even seriously threatening it, and in the process turning far too much of the game into some form of garbage time.

[RELATED: Cameron Meredith opening eyes in Chicago

The Bears significantly out-gained a third straight opponent, yet are 1-2 in those games. They have no identity on offense – are they a physical, running team or Air Loggains? – or defense – 17 points allowed in the fourth quarter, the third game this season allowing double-digit points in the fourth quarter. Special teams managed three field goals and no egregious coverage breakdowns.

But the Bears have not posted a fourth-quarter shutout once in six games and are being outscored by nearly double (59-30) in fourth quarters this season.

“It’s not lack of heart, lack of trying,” coach John Fox insisted. “Our guys battled. We just don’t play well enough right now and that’s on all of us. Everybody in [the locker room] is giving their all – coaches are giving their all, players are giving their all. We just got to play better to win games.”

But can they?

The Bears had 10 penalties for the second game in a row (after eight even in the win over Detroit), suggestive of a team whose discipline is evaporating. But even that problem isn’t the same. In Indianapolis the Bears repeatedly committed penalties and dropped footballs to effective sabotage themselves vs. the Colts. This time they simply could not execute in those pivotal moments where a completion, sack, tackle or whatever would have ruled the moment for a touchdown or defensive stop. The penalties were annoying incidentals for the most part this week, at least on offense.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The 2003 and 2004 Bears started 1-5 in what were Dick Jauron’s last and Lovie Smith’s first Bears coaching seasons. Those teams recovered to roll off consecutive wins in minor rebounds; the current Bears iteration has shown nothing to hint at even that level of resiliency.

“I have no idea [how this game got away],” said linebacker Danny Trevathan. “I know that a couple of plays got away from us where we got to get on the same page, but we’re going to get it done.

There’s no excuses for us. We’re just going to get it done.”