MORRISSEY: Sixth straight loss to Packers signals it’s time for change
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com December 16, 2012 9:48PM
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler stay warm as time runs down in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bears 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday December 16, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 15, 2013 2:11AM
Change is coming to the Bears. It has to be.
You don’t lose to your archrivals six consecutive times and stand still. You don’t play as poorly as the Bears did Sunday and have people hold on to their jobs.
Receiver Brandon Marshall, bless him, seems to understand that right down to his soul. On the verge of tears after the Packers’
21-13 victory, he cut short a postgame news conference and walked away from the lectern. That he’s in his first season with the Bears should shame the people who have been around here a long time. He grasps the emotion of the rivalry. He gets what’s at stake here. I’m not sure some others do.
‘‘It’s the same thing every single game,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘We need to be held accountable. What I’ve got to do is I’ve got to try my best to keep it together and not let this affect me. Because it’s starting to affect me more than it should. I love this game. I’m very passionate about this game, and right now it’s affecting me way too much. I’m trying my all to do my job. That’s it.’’
With that, he walked away, three questions and less than a minute into his session with reporters.
Losing at home to the Packers will do that to someone who cares. As far as the specifics of what was bothering Marshall, we’ll have to hazard a few guesses.
The Packers ran 71 plays; the Bears ran 48. The Packers were 7-for-17 on third-down conversions; the Bears were 0-for-9. The Bears had to settle for a field goal after getting to the Packers’ 1-yard line on second down late in the third quarter.
All that should be enough to bring a caring Bear to the point of tears.
Perhaps Marshall didn’t fully understand what he was up against with this franchise and this season until Sunday. He had called out the Packers’ defensive backs during the week, in essence putting all the pressure on himself. He might have been under the impression his teammates were going to raise their games when, in reality, they were suffering from catastrophic hydraulic problems.
If the Bears win their last two games — at the Cardinals and at the Lions — they will have a 10-6 record. Does this look or feel anything like a 10-6 team? Bill Parcells used to say you are what your record says you are. Had he watched these Bears with any regularity, though, he would have claimed he was misquoted.
The Bears lost by eight points, and it might as well have been 80 or 800. That’s how it felt. Even when the Packers inexplicably, incomprehensibly and just plain stupidly tried a backward pass on a punt return and lost the ensuing fumble in the fourth quarter — with an 11-point lead! — it never felt anything like a momentum shift. It felt like a dead horse and a bone-dry canteen in a desert.
The offensive line isn’t good, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte are what they are and the intersection of all that is the mediocrity that was visited upon Soldier Field on Sunday. That’s how a 7-1 record has turned into an 8-6 record.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked rusty at the start, but he was 23-for-36 for 291 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions at the end. That’s how a team wins the NFC North title on the road.
What you really need to know about the Bears on Sunday took place hundreds of miles from Chicago. The Redskins won with a backup quarterback. The Vikings won without a quarterback, period. Both those teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The Bears are fighting to stay awake. Their two remaining games, both against lower-tier teams, aren’t givens. Not even the Cardinals, who lost 58-0 on Dec. 9 to the Seahawks.
That’s where the Bears are, friends.
Coach Lovie Smith is the one who put a premium on the rivalry against the Packers. He’s the one who said beating the Packers was the most important thing for the franchise each season. So now he has lost eight of the last nine to the Packers, dropping his career record against them to 8-11.
‘‘You don’t want to lose to your rival year in, year out,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘Then it’s not a rivalry anymore. It’s a domination.’’
Time for change. I can hear it approaching. It sounds a lot like the Packers’ fight song.