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Packers 21, Bears 14: Bears, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down

by Ricky O'Donnell on January 25, 2011 at 12:01AM

http://www.tremendousupsidepotential.com/img/brian-urlacher-sad.jpgOur records all show you are filthy but fine.

Apologies go out to anyone whose Monday was rendered meaningless without the official TUP word on all things Bears yesterday. My fault, I guess. Take a review-less day as a twist on the "if you can't say anything nice..." proverb you learned in kindergarten, with an appendage of me being self-aware enough to know when I'm too emotionally unstable -- and hungover -- to get all high-and-mighty with this stuff the way I normally pretend to. Thankfully, the Internet has a golden rule: when it doubt, post funny pictures of cats. That may have saved me from an embarrassing take yesterday, and allowed me to remember that, lookie here, this was the second most successful Bears team of my life. Hey, it's at least worth mentioning, and I can assure you it wasn't getting said had I done this in my normal late-night post-game slot. Blog archives never dissipate, and I have the skeletons in my closet to prove it. Distance can be a good thing.

Here's the truth: that game broke me in ways never before seen; I'm just glad I escaped the comforts of my friends without pulling a Cutler-in-the-locker-room. Damn, that was one I really, really wanted. I didn't play hype-man on Friday for nothing: that truly was as big as Chicago sports has ever gotten in my meager 23 years, and I don't expect to "get over it", or whatever, anytime soon. I'm not sorry: that was a game the Bears just fucking had to win. Losing it hurts in unparalleled ways, especially when I convinced myself it couldn't happen. In retrospect, the red herring seems obvious: 95 percent of the country thought Green Bay would prevail, while every freaking humanoid in this city was too busy chanting "Super Bears". The f'n Best Story Award, man. It'll get you every time you're this invested.

But yes, distance. Such a good weapon to have at your disposal when you're delusional enough to do something like this. It's the reason that I'm actually not going to blast the sports radio call-in meatballs who summoned their own unique blend of hate-mongering after seeing Frowny Face frown all over that precious sideline while standing upright. The nerve of that bastard: whatever happened to Chicago Tough, dammit!

Look: I'm excusing those dummies just this once, because I totally get it. If this was an M. Night movie, there's your twist. Those people were comically wrong-headed -- given another 24 hours and a real, concrete diagnosis, it's not even something worth arguing about anymore. If you're hurt, you're hurt, ect., ect., ect. The only difference between the dummies and everyone else, though, was that they didn't have enough foresight to start drinking and turn off The Score. Shove an a.m. radio in front of my grill Sunday night and I would have said some batty stuff, too. Nearly everyone would have; I have the text message inbox to prove it. That's why they get pardoned: they kick and scream because they care too much, and this time, I was every bit as altered as they were (and always are). Bears-Packers for the freaking Super Bowl means objectivity goes out the window, at least for a few harrowing hours. I admit it: I sent no less than eight "Cut him" text messages when I saw Todd Collins. I even sent one saying he should be "Bartman'd". Yeah, I'm telling you: that game made me crack. Thank goodness for distance.

The other benefit of running this a day later and not having to defend Cutler against the meatballs is that this post doesn't have to be about Defending Jay Cutler. This is the obituary, man, and the obituary does not need to waste breath on that shit. Jay Cutler got hurt, and the reason the Bears aren't in the Super Bowl is not because Jay Cutler is a wuss. That's a fact. Here's another: Jay Cutler needs to be better. The sorry thing in the wake of all the jersey burning is that it turned him into a sympathetic figure during a time when he has no business being a sympathetic figure. Bobby tweeted "I begin a long winter, spring, and summer of defending Jay Cutler" and I ask: defend Jay Cutler from what? OK, maybe that came pre-diagnosis, or it's possible that I'm too close-minded to believe the entire world hasn't already universally agreed it's a dead issue at this point. But defend Jay Cutler? Only from the "he shoulda been in there" crowd. Otherwise? No freaking chance.

This game was bigger than a one-on-one quarterback showdown, and it always is. We all love to pretend it's that simple -- guilty as charged -- but, of course, it goes so far beyond that. The fact of the matter, though, is that Sunday was Jay Cutler's Everest. It was a peak he needed to conquer, and it would have changed everything. Simply put, it didn't happen, and that's why we're in this situation. He doesn't catch flack in this spot for lacking courage, he catches it because he isn't that good.

Please, save the scouting report for someone who needs it, and same goes for the spiel about local history. Cutler's tools are evident from outer space, as is this franchise's quarterback woes. Cutler is better than all of them, I know. But what kind of standard is that? Many of us think he's elite, but show me a objective measure that proves it. He threw more interceptions than any quarterback in the league a season ago; this year seven dudes topped him. An improvement, yes, but hardly a tradition worth passing down like an heirloom. 18 quarterbacks had a higher completion percentage than Cutler this year, 12 threw more touchdowns, 15 finished with a higher passer rating.

For the record: of course I would make that trade 100 times out of 100 again, and I'll forever cherish the day it happened. And yes: circumstance goes into everything. The offensive line, while improved, still hovers in D+ territory. A receiver taller than 6-foot and older than 17 wouldn't hurt, either. Same goes for continuity: next season will presumably be the first time in four or five years Cutler gets to work with the same offensive coordinator in consecutive years. All of these things are fact; I have no problem highlighting them. But isn't "circumstance" just a fancy synonym for "excuse"? I just want results, guys. Jay Cutler was alright this year. He can play better. He has to play better. I really think he's up for for the task, for all the reasons listed above. Let's not sugarcoat it, though: this isn't the savior we were promised, at least not yet. I don't think there's anything wrong with realizing that; the tools will never cede and time is on his side. It just needs to be said.

So yes, this is it. Good season, Bears. I mean that. This final loss will linger forever, and treat us like 100 straight bad hair days. They got far, though. They were good.  They could be better next year; they could also go 6-10. I want to send out a hearty reminder too that the Bears are cool now. This isn't Wannstedt Era -- they have a GM, and even though he doesn't hit on enough draft picks, he still likes to swing for the stars. Last off-season brought Peppers, the one before brought Cutler. This team is close: closer than they've been in a while. I wouldn't be shocked if there's another big fish on the way, assuming, you know, that there's actually a season. And hey: the NBA could be gone, too. It's a good thing this blog has a name so few can trace the origin of, and a good thing that, even with all of this distance, I still typed the most obvious indie dweeb quote ever in the headline box (Jeez, I'm really losing my edge. I can change. Be someone great. Daft Punk is playing at my house). All I'm saying is that this thing can turn into Odd Future PR at any moment, and none of us need that.

You see, sports are great, even when they're as awful as Sunday. Sometimes you just need a day or two to realize it. You did well, Bears. You were fun. Now go forth, and do better.

16 Comments | Leave a comment

Ive been waiting since Sunday for someone to sum up my feelings as a Bears fan, and u and Wilbon came closest. Im giving u the edge Rick, cuz we're closer in age (ill b 28 on Sunday) and Wilbon has a lil "grumpy old man" in him. I cant blame him @ all, becauase he's and OG Bears fan like my pops, and they were both pissed. This was a bad loss, only because Da Bears we're never totally out of it. Unlike the frauduelent and fugazi Atlanta Falcons, and their fair-haired golden boy Matt Ryan, who can somehow do no wrong, but got blown out by HALFTIME. Jay must/can/will get better, and i think another year in Martz system (along with a tall & talented reciever) will do wonders for him. When Da Bears beat the Pack earlier in the seaason, Steve Young said GB is a year ahead of Da Bears. This is totally true, because if we keep all our coaches this off-season, we will begin to build the consistancy that Ted Thompson and GB has established. I just hope Da Bears are fortunate enough to avoid the injury bug like they did this year (save the NFC champ game), because our depth @ certain positons sucks. Great Season Bears, lets improve on it whenever next season starts! There, i officially feel better...

Bears keep on wasting Urlacher's prime. And now are wasting Brigg's prime. Unfortunate.

I think we are wasting Ricky's prime years of writing by not winning a Super Bowl

Jay's play before the injury was pretty crummy, and you're right, all the backlash he's receiving is making Cutler a sympathetic figure.

We're pretty much married to Jay for at least 2 more years IMO, so we have no choice but to rebuild the offense around him.

The offensive line, while not as bad as last season, was still fairly terrible.

And the receivers were pretty much awful. Devin Hester had no post season catches. How does that even happen?

I know the Bears love drafting defensive players with their early picks, but if they don't start investing in some young offensive talent I'm gonna riot Halas Hall.

Nothing on the atrocious coaching?

Lovie's punt decisions and not trusting Gould.

The 0-9 or so start on third down conversions..

The lack of offensive imagination or balls to make plays downfield like the post bye week offense was playing. I mean 30+ on the Jets and Eagles and we get 17 in two (one semi-meaningless) games against the Packers? Martz got badly outcoached by Dom Capers in almost every way this year.

It's as if the Bears are attempting to protect Cutler from another 4 INT meltdown like Week 1 last season. They were conservative against Green Bay all year long.

Look, this team needs a playmaking receiver, an upgraded O-Line and some other pieces, but we were rolling through some pretty good playoff teams in some big games. Where was the balls?

We played not to lose, not to win.

I dunno. Cutler just played bad. He had two deep balls early for TDs that he just missed (I believe both were to Hester). Also that "pick" at the half--same thing; down field, but bad throw. Clearly his knee was affecting his play. He missed on passes he just didn't miss all year wrong. Perhaps Martz adjusted to this or maybe he didn't, but honestly Cutler was playing with a torn MCL, you just don't have any stability and strength in your knee (I know because I tore my ACL). Just a gut punch type of game though. Sucks. Cubs, Cubs, Cubs.

The end-around on 3rd&short was by far one of the worst calls/decisions i've ever seen from this coaching staff, and that's saying a lot. I really wish there was some way we could demote Lovie and just have him be our defensive coordinator. And then bring in a coach who knows how to manage a game. No head coach should let his coordinator call that play in that situation.

Trade for brandon marshall and the only thing the offense needs is an O-line

Scott: I agree with a lot of what you said. These Bears reviews have never been meant to cover everything, though. I assume all y'all watch every play; I just try to capture the general aesthetic of the atmosphere. You dudes are all smart enough already to know what's giong on.

Anon: So anything other than a Super Bowl trip (Super Bowl win?) qualifies as a "waste"? Those seem like egregiously high standards.

Jimmy: Thanks for the kind words. Mentioning Wilbon and I in the same sentence caused me to LOL.

Ricky i refuse to believe that you have EVER had a bad hair day

The maddening thing about that game was that they played a really hot team, that IMO was better than they were ... BUT STILL COULD HAVE WON THAT FUCKING GAME!

And should have.

There is no excuse whatsoever for letting the hottest QB in the league have the ball on the opening drive. I would have taken my chances on Hester or Manning giving them goof field position on the opening kick-off, and taken the ball.

There was also no excuse for them coming out of that locker room as flat as an ironing board. They had no Mo-Jo whatsoever, in the biggest game of the year?

The whole thing was like watching a really bad movie that you've already seen, but were stupid enough to sit through again, even though you knew how it ended, and how bad it was the first dozen times you saw it.

Cutler stunk up the field with his 31.whatever passer rating. In retrospect, maybe they should have just pounded Forte down the Packer's throats 'till there was nothing left of him.

This game was just too fucking big for the totally lame ass game plan they ran with. WTF was all that about anyway? Were they channeling their, "Inner Turner"?

This kind of opportunity might not roll around again in any of our lifetimes, and to watch them piss it down the drain like that killed me. It was all right there for 'em!
Rogers had a horse shit game, and was clearly rattled after Peppers and Briggs laid licks on him. All the Bears had to do to win that game was play the first half like they had a fucking pulse, AND a clue.

And Smith is going to get a big, fat reward for his blind luck, (which began with the last play of the first game of the season, and continued, unabated) and his unrelenting ineptitude.

What makes it all the harder to swallow, is that they never should have gotten as far as they did in the first place, but after having done so, they took a look at the Brass Ring, and said, "Fuck it!"

And that's what I say.

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