Anyone have any idea what the Chicago Bears are trying to accomplish?
The disjointed plan that is the 2016 version of the Bears seems like amateur hour with no clear-cut strategy to improve the program over time, nor any indication that it’s a franchise ready to compete right now despite an aging coach in John Fox and a veteran quarterback ostensibly built to win in the present like Jay Cutler.
On Monday night, the “jump-ball offense” of Dowell Loggains was essentially limited to one 50-50 ball to Alshon Jeffery as a fierce Philadelphia front dominated one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL en route to an easy 29-14 Eagles win.
By the time Cutler threw his signature game-changing, backbreaking interception to Nigel Bradham late in the third quarter, the surprising Eagles were well on their way to 2-0, something completed in just over 15 minutes of game time with Brian Hoyer cleaning up for the Bears.
Cutler suffered a right-hand injury during a sack and forced fumble by Destiny Vaeao earlier in the game and was pulled after the egregious pick as he clearly wasn’t right. However, the snowball continued to roll downhill despite the presence of a veteran backup.
A Jeremy Langford fumble early in the fourth quarter, Chicago’s third turnover of the night, sucked whatever life was left in the Bears and their fan base as the club continued to lay eggs on its home field, losing for the eighth time in nine tries at Soldier Field.
Most observers of this team believe this is a complete rebuild, but then again Chicago recently added 30-plus offensive guard Josh Sitton once NFC North rival Green Bay jettisoned him, and brought longtime Fox-favorite Danny Trevathan in from Denver with a big-money deal in free agency.
The defense here is particularly bipolar with Fox and Vic Fangio always seeming to default to experience and leaning on players who they feel more comfortable with like Willie Young, Lamarr Houston (who was injured tonight), Jerrell Freeman and Tracy Porter, all competent professionals but hardly difference makers in a division with Minnesota and Green Bay.
Yet, the gist of general manager Ryan Pace’s roster plan seems to be trying to build around younger talent like Kyle Long, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Fuller (inactive with for the second straight game with a knee injury), Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman (who was carted off in the fourth quarter) and Langford.
Considering the Bears play in the Second City, the nation’s third-largest television market where expectations are always high, it’s certainly not surprising that the organization is trying to serve two masters by attempting to remain relevant while restocking the cupboard.
That kind of plan rarely works, though, and it doesn’t figure to click here because the Bears aren’t going to be competitive with either the Vikings or the Packers anytime soon and it now looks as if Detroit has also clearly moved ahead of Chicago in the tough NFC North.
The worst part of that reality is that by hedging his bet this year in the hopes of staying in the conversation in the division, Pace has essentially set the process back 12 months.
This is not a refurbishing, this is a teardown and the sooner the Bears figure that out, the sooner they can get things moving back in a positive direction.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.