April 24, 2014

Football Players of a Lesser God

If the season was on life support for the Chicago Bears before Sunday’s 38-14 eradication at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field in Chicago, then that means the plug has now been pulled and it’s now just a matter of harvesting the organs.

A season which showed such promise four weeks ago has now been diverted from the Yellow Brick Road onto Skid Row as the Bears have dropped four straight to fall to 7-7 and look as if they would have a tough time covering the spread against Tom Brady’s shadow.  I shan’t bother terrorizing you with the details of Sunday’s washout because my stomach just can’t take it.  If you’re a masochist or a Brandon Browner fan, you can watch the highlights yourself on the Internet or you could also pop in a DVD of Inglorious Basterds and fast-forward to all the Christoph Waltz scenes.  Yes, it was like that.

The Bears were playing their fourth straight game without quarterback Jay Cutler and with quarterback Caleb Hanie who, by this time next year, will either be working as a shopping mall Santa Claus or as one of George Toma’s sod boys.  Mr. Hanie is an athletic and diligent young fellow but he’s regressing with each week and he also has very little help because the Bears were also, once again, without running back Matt Forte.  The Bears without Cutler and Forte are like Larry without Moe and Curly.

Chicago’s offensive line cannot sustain blocks and the receivers cannot get separation.  The Bears defense at this point of the year is sort of like Kirstie Alley’s girdle at a smorgasbord: it can only do so much before there’s an explosion of flesh, flatulence and general horror.

Bears coach Lovie Smith must accept some of the blame for driving a team bus that now smells like it was carrying around a herd of goats that have been feasting on Newt Gingrich’s socks but no coach – not Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichik or even Hayden Fox – could win, or win often, with the current lineup sported by the Meltdowns of the Midway.  The dissection of the Bears disaster has already begun and includes many calls for Lovie’s bald head along with that of General Manager Jerry Angelo who is blamed for not getting a top-notch receiver or putting together a passable offensive line.  Those are legitimate criticisms but it must be acknowledged that four weeks ago the Bears were 7-3, riding a five-game winning streak, and might not have had the Packers, Saints or 49ers looking over their shoulder but at least they could see the Bears in the rearview mirror, honking the horn and waving a pink bra.  Angelo compiled a good team that went south only after it lost its two best players along with two starting offensive lineman, one of whom, rookie first round pick Gabe Carimi, barely had a chance to prove his worth.  If Cutler, Forte, Carimi and left guard Chris Williams were still playing the Bears would probably be 9-5 at worst and might be 11-3.

But they’re not and the Bears aren’t.

What Angelo truly must face the music on at this point is that after Hanie’s second start, an icky 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it was clear that a change was needed at quarterback.  But, instead of going after Donovan McNabb or even Jeff Garcia, Angelo and Lovie chose to stick with Hanie as the starter and Josh McCown, who was signed when Cutler got hurt, as the backup.  It should have been abundantly clear to Messrs. Angelo and Smith that their squad cannot win with their current crop of QBs, which also includes rookie Nathan Enderle.  They should have gone out and signed another quarterback two weeks ago when there was still hope to go 10-6 and reach the playoffs at which time Cutler and Forte might have been able to return and the Bears would be entering Youneverknowland.  The injuries have been devastating to the Bears but you don’t respond to cancer with aspirin.  Alcohol and porn, maybe, but not aspirin.

What the Bears have done, with a little help from the Green Bay Packers, is ruin Christmas.  Weeks ago this coming Sunday night’s Bears-Packers primetime affair at Lambeau Field looked like it would be one of the great games of the season and another colorful chapter in pro football’s longest and most choleric rivalry.  Now the NFL’s only Christmas Day game will feel like a visit to the Island of Misfit Toys and will likely have fewer viewers than that night’s rerun of Doctor Who which is also what Caleb Hanie is thinking of changing his name to.

Despite the Bears’ dilapidated state, the Christmas showdown would still have been worth watching if only to see if Chicago might pull off a Christmas miracle and end Green Bay’s perfect season.  But then those rascally Packers went out and got bopped by the Kansas City Chiefs for their first loss in more than a calendar year.  Back when the Packers last lost a game Glee was good, Tim Tebow was bad and Chaz Bono couldn’t pee standing up.  It was quite a year.

The Bears aren’t mathematically out of the playoff race and I, mathematically, stand a chance at taking the place of Thomas Vonn.  If Chicago wins its final two games, the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seabiscuits must still drop dead for the Bears to reach the second weekend of January.  It’s not going to happen.

It has been a December not to remember in Bearland. Rudolph has been shot, Santa has hemorrhoids and Elvis is hoping they don’t let Kim Jong Il inside.  Bring on basketball.  Bring on 2012.  Bring us some figgy pudding, light a cigarette and shut the door.  We want to be alone.