10 observations after the Bears’ ugly loss to the Packers
BY MARK POTASH Twitter: @MarkPotash September 14, 2012 2:18PM
The Bears fooled us again into thinking they are an elite team like the Packers. For 10 more observations, click through the gallery.
Updated: September 14, 2012 2:21PM
As bad as they were in a 23-10 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field that was uglier than the score indicated, the Bears lost just one game Thursday night — but an immeasurable amount of trust.
Chronically skeptical Bears fans who fell for the bravado and confidence of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall after a 41-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener are kicking themselves for getting duped again.
Our mistake this time? It didn’t just sound good. It was something new and different. And they made it look and sound so real.
‘‘Good luck,’’ Cutler said when asked Tuesday about the Packers using press coverage against Bears receivers in Thursday night’s game.
‘‘We’re in the point-scoring business,’’ Cutler said when asked using the running game to control the clock.’’
Not only did it sound good, but Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s Pro Bowl resumes added legitimacy to the whole charade. It’s one thing for Gary Crowton’s bubble screens to fizzle or Marcus Robinson’s star to burn out quickly with Cade McNown at quarterback. Or even for the Muhsin Muhammad era to end in disappointment. But this looked like the real thing. Or maybe we just wanted it to be the real thing so badly that it looked like the real thing.
Either way, it was fool’s gold. This wasn’t just a bad game. This game exposed almost every promise of the Bears’ offense as a fraud.
What happened to the idea that if opponents take Brandon Marshall out of the game, it will open things up for the other receivers? Through three quarters, Marshall was targeted one time and had no receptions — yet Earl Bennett (1-10) and Alshon Jeffery (1-7) were the only other receivers to make a catch.
What happened to the idea that Mike Tice would use ‘‘schemes’’ to protect Cutler even if J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams weren’t good enough to do the job themselves? (‘‘We’re going to make sure we’re not embarrassing anybody or hurting our quarterback,’’ Tice said in August. ‘‘We’re going to be able to have schemes were if we have a guy that we’re not matching up well against, we’re going to make sure that guy has two guys on him throughout the game.’’)
Seven sacks of Cutler later — 3 1/2 by linebacker Clay Matthews — that promise already has turned to dust. Cutler has been sacked on the Bears’ first offensive play of the game twice in a row this season. Mike Tice is awesome, but that’s the kind of thing that builds doubt more than trust.
And whatever happened to the idea that Cutler could do everything Mike Martz’ offense wouldn’t allow him to do to combat furious pass rushes — like moving the pocket with rollouts, and those audibles? We didn’t see too many rollouts against the Packers. An we might have ignored one important facet of the audible — the quarterback still has to make the right decision.
This season is far from over. The Bears were as bad or worse in Week 2 last year against the Saints in the Superdome and still won six of eight games and were 7-3 and in great shape until Cutler suffered a broken thumb against the Chargers. You can never underestimate the impact of parity in the NFL. But the loss to the Packers is one that Phil Emery might want to look at very closely, because it was a systemic failure on a stage and at a competitive level the Bears are going to have to negotiate to win a Super Bowl.
The Bears made it very clear that they are good enough to beat bad shorthanded teams but literally not ready for prime time.
The good news is that the Bears have no humility. So when he is asked next week why his team crapped out against the Packers, instead of mea culpas, Lovie Smith will be defiant and combative and breathe new life into the us-against-them mentality that spreads through his lockerroom like wildfire. It’s a little unbecoming, but the Bears wear it well. And it works better than ‘‘We’re in the point-scoring business.’’ If they expect to win the Super Bowl with bravado, all we can say is, ‘‘Good luck.’’ CLICK HERE for 10 more observations on the Bears.