The Chicago Bears' season has been over for a while now, but they had an opportunity today to play spoilers for the Green Bay Packers' playoff hopes. That didn't really happen, as the Bears settled for a game-tying field goal instead of attempting to convert a fourth and goal from the four yard line to win the game. The Bears had a first and goal at the three yard line with less than two minutes in the game and down by three (27-24). A penalty backed them up to the thirteen, and they weren't able to punch it into the end zone. Micah Hyde swatted a pass out of the hands of Cameron Meredith on third down, and John Fox decided to kick a tying field goal rather than going for the win.

Jordan Howard had rushed for over 90 yards, a touchdown, and a 5.3 yards per carry average over the course of the game, yet John Fox decided to throw the ball on third down and concede to the field goal. I would have put the ball in Jordan Howard's hands and given him both third and fourth downs to try to punch the ball four yards into the end zone. No way I would have settled for three.

Bears v Packers: swatted pass in end zone
Micah Hyde swatted a 3rd down pass that would have given the Bears a late lead.

Chicago had nothing to play for except beating Green Bay. Kicking a tying field goal had no strategic advantage. You have nothing to play for; there's no reason to play it safe. Let your bell-cow running back show what he can do.

Bad decision-making didn't end with the decision to play for the tie. The Packers got the ball back with about a minute left and no timeouts. An injury on third down stopped the clock, but the Bears refused to enforce the ten-second run-off. Aaron Rodgers followed that with a deep bomb, a clock-stopping spiked ball, and a game-winning field goal with three seconds left...

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I haven't had much reason to talk about the Chicago Bears this year. Since the preseason, the team has gone from bad to worse. Injuries has been the story of the season, but injuries are no excuse for the abysmally poor play from this team. The Bears have used all three of their quarterbacks and at least four of their running backs this season, as they've been going through a revolving door of injuries.

Rookie Jordan Howard has been the bright spot of the season. With injuries to Jeremy Langford and KaDeem Carey, Howard has been the bell-cow rusher for most of the season. And he has performed well. Not as well as the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliot, but still pretty good. Howard carried the Bears to 3 touchdowns in a 26-6 victory over the 49ers earlier today. It looks like the Bears have found a replacement for Matt Forte, assuming that Howard can continue to perform this well in the years to come.

Jordan Howard
The Bears look like they've found a replacement for Matt Forte. Jordan Howard has been excellent.

The quarterback situation, however, hasn't been as fortuitous. Cutler was out for a while, and Brian Hoyer played well in his stead. It looked like Cutler's career as a starting quarterback for the Bears was over (finally). Then Hoyer got hurt, and the untested Matt Barkley finished the game without much fanfare. The Bears weren't confident in playing a third-string quarterback, so Cutler came back the following week and lead the team to its second win of the season (a 20-10 victory over the collapsing Vikings in week 8). So maybe Cutler was back to form? Maybe he was going to save his job with a late-season rally?

Not so. The Bears were embarrassed the following week by Tampa Bay, and Cutler got hurt once again the following week against the New York Giants. Cutler will have to have surgery to repair the damage, which means that his season (and possibly his career with the Bears) is over.

In comes young backup quarterback Matt Barkley...

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Chicago Bears alt logo

Yesterday, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman announced that he would be benching Jay Cutler and starting Jimmy Clausen in this coming Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. It's about damned time! After Chicago lost to Dallas two weeks ago and were eliminated from the playoffs, I thought the Bears would put Cutler on the bench. When I turned on last Thursday's game against the Saints and saw Cutler step onto the field for the first drive, I stopped watching the game.

Trestman and Cutler
Is the Bears organization going to look through Cutler and blame only Trestman?

What more was there to see in Jay Cutler? How could he not have conclusively proven that he is a bust? Why weren't the Bears taking the opportunity to test out Clausen and / or David Fales for the remainder of this dead season? It seemed so stupid! Heck, if Clausen could win games or spark the offense back to life, it could save Trestman's job. It would be solid evidence that the Bears poor season was mostly on Cutler's shoulders, and not on Trestman's. Again, the Bears looked good last year with Josh McCown playing during Jay Cutler's injury, so Trestman and the Bears have already proven that they can be successful with other quarterbacks.

Well, Trestman and Emery finally smartened up and realized that Cutler isn't the guy. But now they only have two games to examine the potential of Clausen, and it seems unlikely that they'll bother with rookie David Fales. If I had been coach, I would have given Clausen one game as starter and given Fales one game as starter, then give the third game to whichever of the two performed better. It would let me know whether Fales is a keeper, or if I should look to the draft for yet another quarterback. The big question will be: can either quarterback successfully run Marc Trestman's west coast-style offense?

Unfortunately, neither Clausen nor Fales will have access to star wideout Brandon Marshall, ...

UPDATE December 23, 2014: Cutler to start final week against Vikings due to Clausen injury

Jimmy Clausen started against the Lions last Sunday, but still wasn't able to provide a spark of life to Chicago's offense. He didn't do anything special, and he also threw a game-ending interception. He also apparently suffered a concussion. As such, Chicago is back to starting Jay Cutler this coming Sunday in the season-finale against the Vikings.

I think Trestman is making a bad decision by starting Cutler. If I were in charge, I'd give the game to rookie David Fales. There is no better crucible for testing a new quarterback than with a meaningless late-season game. Even if he isn't fully prepared, playing him will help the coaches to identify his weaknesses and problem areas against a starting NFL defense in a live game. And if the coaches and management don't see anything redeeming in Fales play, then they will know that he isn't worth keeping on the roster and potentially hurting the team's chances in future seasons if the starter(s) ahead of him go down with injury.

Playing Cutler, on the other hand, only risks getting Cutler hurt and destroying any possibility of a trade.

I'm going to write this one off as yet another bad decision in a very long, sad history of bad football decisions in Chicago...

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Chicago Bears alt logo

I was looking forward to a breakout year for the Bears. I even drafted Jay Cutler in one of the later rounds in one of my fantasy football leagues expecting him to have his best season ever and be a top-tier quarterback. All the pieces were in place. And the defense being a liability seemed to be even more promising, since Cutler would have to play from behind more often, giving him plenty of opportunity to put up huge numbers.

But then the season started, and my excitement was almost completely squashed by losing the season opener in overtime to the Bills.

But I never feared it would get this bad!

The Bears have only three wins in the first ten weeks of the season, and the past three losses have been embarrassing. A loss to the Dolphins in which the Bears couldn't even score more than 14 points. And now two straight games against the Patriots and Packers that were both over by halftime. And the loss to the Packers came after a bye!

The Bears are failing at every level of play. The offense can't move the ball or score points. Special teams hasn't done anything special. And teams are cutting through the Bears' defense like butter. The defense at least has the excuse of injuries. Charles Tillman is out for the year, and Lance Briggs just returned from a multi-week injury. But that doesn't justify giving up over 100 points in two weeks, nor does it justify the defense being the statistically worst defense that the team has ever had in its 90-plus-year history.

Bears - 23 | Patriots - 51 : Rob Gronkowski scores a TD Bears - 14 | Packers - 55 : Jordy Nelson wide open TD reception
The Bears' defense has set franchise records for awfulness.

But as bad as the defense is, it wasn't expected to be very good. New coach Mark Trestman is an offense-oriented coach, and the defense is old and has lost some of its best talent (like Brian Urlacher).

What is disappointing is that despite being the most "talented" and hyped offense that the team has ever seen, the offense is completely inept. It's as bad as the post-SuperBowl Rex Grossman offense!

The Bears don't even look like a professional football team right now.

There's two obvious scape-goats here: coach Mark Trestman, or quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler has been inconsistent and oft criticized, but his apologists always said that he needed a better offensive coach...

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Jay Cutler can take as long as he wants to return from his groin injury. No rush.

Josh McCown is looking fantastic in Cutler's absence. He played very well against the Redskins, but the defense just couldn't stop them. He also played exceptionally well against the Packers, including managing a late game scoring drive that ate up almost a full 9 minutes of the fourth quarter clock to seal the win for the Bears.

In fact, McCown played a near perfect game against the Packers. Trestman's gameplan was very aggressive, and he put the game squarely in McCown's hands early on. He hardly missed any throws, and the few incompletions were usually the result of a receiver dropping the ball (Marshall had several drops). I only noticed two or three throws that looked significantly off the mark, and every one of them was a very safe miss. On top of that, McCown made several good plays under duress, including some scrambles for first downs and weaving around the pocket in order to sling the ball out to a receiver. And he did all of this without losing his chewing gum!

Bears 27 - Packers 20: Josh McCown
Josh McCown has looked exceptional as a replacement for Jay Cutler!
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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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