Really, Chicago Bears. Not all this fantastic news at once.
The more-fragile-than monsters of the midway limp into their bye week, figuratively and literally, with an uninspiring 4-3 record. Jay Cutler has a groin, Lance Briggs a shoulder and Charles Tillman just appears sore and old in general. In reality, he has a knee. But these are troubling times for our Bears, so a bit of hyperbole is expected in these dire of circumstances.
The good news? For starters, Marc Trestman proved on Sunday that he can coach the hell out of offensive football.
In former years… well, you’ve seen it before. Rex Grossman injuries a knee or an ankle on an ill-advised, Rudy-esque scramble. Insert quarterback B. In this case, we’ll refer to him as Jonathan Quinn. Quinn is utterly confused; he believes the Bears are playing basketball and fires precise bounce passes at the likes of Marty Booker and Bernard Berrian. Unfortunately for JQ, this is football, and all bounce passes get you are boos from the rancid Chicago crowd and a plane ticket for John Schoop to coordinate some mediocre college offense.
It’s hard not to be feisty these days as a Bears fan.
It’s just, you see the potential there. Perhaps we’re naïve, in a way. We’ve never seen offensive football this competent, and are as naïve about our offense as we are spoiled by the Bears’ stout defense we’ve seen in the last 50 years.
It’s human nature. The offense is at a championship level. So where is that defense that’s been Chicago/Ditka/anyone with a meatball sub’s pride and joy for years?
I’ll tell you where it is. The ancient side of 30, depleted by poor drafts and desperately on their way to the trainer’s table.
Briggs, once again, was playing at a pro-bowl level for the Bears. Tillman may have looked like a shell of his formal self even when healthy, but he’s still a turnover machine. And without turnovers, this Bears unit is about as effective as an intramural flag football defense.
A top heavy unit lost its top heavy players. It’s that simple.
Use the “next man up” cliché all you want, but clichés are as stupid as the phrase “next man up.” If he was better than the current man, he would have been playing. And if you paid attention to Jerry Angelo’s drafts and Shea McClelin’s pure awkwardness on the football field, you’d realize “next man up” might as well mean “45 points to the lousy Redkins” each week.
Why am I so angry? Yes, I have the Bears defense in fantasy. But perhaps anger isn’t the right emotion.
It’s just sadness, at this point.
For Chicago White Sox fans, it’s almost like watching the 2005 World Series gang be depleted piece by piece. Aaron Rowand left, Joe Crede left, A.J. Pierzynski became too costly and the rest of those fun, cheesy characters slowly drifted into oblivion.
This Bears defense is sort of the same way. Brian Urlacher was the first domino to fall of a defensive core we’ve all had so much fun rooting for over the years. Julius Peppers has clearly lost five steps, Briggs and Tillman appear to be breaking down. Like I said, just sad.
Phil Emery rebuilt a dwindling offense in two years. By all accounts, that’s awfully impressive.
Re-constructing this defense may be an even more difficult task.