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.
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. Well he has one now, and he's only getting worse. He makes stupid decisions, and throws unnecessary interceptions. He sits in the pocket too long and gets sacked. And he has trouble holding on the ball under pressure. It doesn't matter how good his receivers are if Cutler can't get the ball to them.
But the worst part is that Cutler isn't just playing bad; he isn't playing the offense that is being drawn up for him. Trestman comes from a West Coast background, and that is the type of offense that he is trying to run. But Cutler is a gunslinger, and he doesn't want to dink and dunk his way down the field. So if he thinks he has an opening to go downfield, he'll throw the play design out the window and chuck it without taking into consideration the dump off throws that should be available. He isn't making three or five-step drops and throwing curls and outs to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. He's sitting in the backfield, waiting for those guys to streak down the field, and often getting sacked or throwing interceptions in the meantime.
This is not how the offense is supposed to be run. When Cutler does slow down and play the offense as its designed, the Bears are successful. We saw hints of that against New England and Green Bay. But it wasn't consistent. And even when they were moving the ball, Cutler often gave up as they got close to the Red Zone and starting trying to finish off the drive prematurely.
He plays like Brett Favre, but makes Favre look like a genius in comparison.
Who should fans blame for the Bears' abysmal season: Cutler or Trestman?
But Cutler can't be blamed entirely. The coaches clearly aren't doing a good enough job of selling their offensive designs to Cutler. It's their duty to teach the plays to the players and to put the players who best execute those plays on the field. Maybe Cutler is playing it perfectly in practice. Or maybe Trestman's playcalling is completely different in games. I don't know, since I can't attend Bears practices. But on Sundays, Cutler isn't executing the plays, and the coaches aren't finding someone else who can.
It doesn't help that the coaching staff can't seem to create a working defensive scheme to save their lives. Being down 14 points in the first quarter understandably puts pressure on Cutler to move the ball downfield. And this is where the coaching staff's fault lies. It doesn't matter how good your offensive gameplan is if your defense doesn't give you the breathing room to execute that gameplan. So is the defensive talent for the Bears that bad? Or is it a complete failure of coaching? I don't know, that's hard to tell by watching a televised broadcast because you can't see the entire field.
So while it's possible that both Cutler and Trestman are both busts, I think Trestman deserves a little benefit of the doubt. After all, the team performed well last year when Josh McCown started in place of the injured Cutler. He executed the offense as it was drawn up, and he looked brilliant! So Trestman definitely has the football smarts to put together a functioning offense. Unfortunately, he (and GM Phil Emery) didn't have the smarts to keep McCown on the team to relieve Cutler when Cutler inevitably failed miserably.
I was disappointed that Cutler was given a contract extension last year. I didn't think he deserved it. Now I don't think he deserves to have a job. And maybe the Bears are starting to realize that too.
Maybe I'll have to start rooting for the Lions, since they're the only team in the NFC North that can beat the Packers now.
It could be worse though. I could be a Jaguars or Raiders fan...