Morrissey: Boo-worthy performance
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org
Some halfhearted, almost self-conscious boos grumbled down the rows of seats at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.
It was as if Bears fans knew they were silly to boo a 4-1 team but still couldn't help themselves. No apology was necessary. It was even sillier for a 4-1 team to look so discombobulated, so out of it, so not all there. Who knew Jay Cutler's foggy concussion symptoms could be contagious-
The 23-20 loss to the Seahawks wasn't shocking as much as it was bewildering. You went through the ugly loss against the Giants and survived the Todd Collins fiasco against the Panthers for this-
You came home to face a team that was winless on the road, and this is all you could come up with-
OK, if you say so.
"We came out flat,'' cornerback Charles Tillman said.
The Bears were so flat that even when Devin Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to three points with one minute, 54 seconds left, the game still seemed as out of reach as a supermodel.
There was an edge to Lovie Smith's voice afterward, which should give you an indication of how indifferent his team looked. The mellow fellow of a coach said everybody was to blame for this one, and he was right.
Cutler, after sitting out last week's game because of a concussion, was sacked six times behind a reconfigured offensive line. That's a good way to get your brain reconfigured.
When the Bears beat Carolina last week, they did it by rushing for 218 yards. But they only have a running game when Matt Forte can get loose for a long run, as he did against the Panthers. And you have to stick with him long enough to get one. The Bears didn't Sunday, and Forte averaged 1.4 yards on eight carries.
Cutler said that the team's 14 rushes had to do with being behind most of the game, but the Bears weren't so far behind that they had to declare Forte a nonperson.
On defense, they played with all the enthusiasm of a bowl of porridge. They had no sacks. They didn't tackle well, which isn't new, but they didn't cause a turnover, which is rare.
Tillman won't show up the injury report, but he should have been treated for burns. Seahawks receiver Mike Williams caught 15 passes for 123 yards, many of them on Tillman. And No. 33 had a close-up view of Deon Butler's first-quarter touchdown reception.
In his last two games, Cutler has been sacked 15 times. At this rate, he'll soon be getting around in a tricked-out Rascal scooter. The onus was not all on the offensive line Sunday. Cutler should have gotten rid of the ball on two blitzes that led to sacks. But it's mostly on the offensive line, and there's nothing that would suggest good times are ahead.
"We were obviously licking our chops,'' said Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, who had a sack.
The shame Sunday was not the sacks, which are almost built into the equation now. It was the flatness of the Bears' world. That's why those half-formed boos were making their way toward the field in the second half. They were the complaints of fans who couldn't quite believe a team with that good a record could look so emotionally detached.
Or and perhaps you've read this before in this space the Bears aren't as good as their record indicates.
Whatever, they're 4-2 now, with Washington coming to town next week. The Redskins will be licking their chops, too, but they'll have to decide how to disburse the saliva at the chance for a bunch of sacks or at the chance to extend the Bears' 0-for-12 effort on third downs.
Problems on third down are not new for the Bears, but confusion is. They had to blow a timeout when disorientation set in during the fourth quarter. There are teenagers and parents who communicate with each other better than the Bears did Sunday.
They weren't alone in being dumb. The Seahawks' Jon Ryan failed to punt the ball out of bounds with his team up by 10 points late. For his trouble, Ryan got a one-way ticket to a parallel universe, thanks to a vicious hit by the Bears' Earl Bennett on Hester's touchdown.
But, again, it didn't amount to much. Seattle recovered the ensuing onsides kick and eventually ran out the clock. It ended the way it should have ended, given the Bears' shrug of an effort.
"I'm not going to say we weren't ready to play,'' safety Chris Harris said.
The Seahawks scored on their first possession, which is the clinical definition of "not ready to play.'' Try walking backward on your heels for 80 yards and you'll get a good feel of what it was like to be a Bears' defender Sunday.
Someone asked linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa whether "disappointing'' was the right word to describe the loss.
"It's more frustrating than anything,'' linebacker said.
Actually, no. It's more incriminating than anything.
"We just got our butts kicked,'' Tillman said.