We no longer know anything about the Chicago Bears. Except they have unshakable confidence.
We no longer know anything about the Chicago Bears.
Except they have unshakable confidence.
“We’ll get it back,” coach Lovie Smith said Sunday after Cincinnati’s 45-10 evisceration of the Bears.
“We still think we can make a run,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. But how?
They won’t make a run by running. The Bears No. 27-ranked ground game sank even lower Sunday with 35 yards on 12 carries. The Bears say they want a balanced offense, but they didn’t mean gaining 11 yards rushing and 11 yards passing in the first quarter.
And all of that defensive improvement with Lovie Smith and new line coach Rod Marinelli calling the shots has disappeared. Chicago, third in the NFL with 14 sacks the first four weeks, has zero in two losses since the bye week. The Bengals scored their first seven possessions, with six touchdowns and a field goal behind Carson Palmer (5 TD passes) and Cedric Benson (189 yards rushing).
The Bears pass defense, a solid 14th in the first five games, looked an awful lot like the No. 30-rated unit from last season.
“We have got to cover better,” said cornerback Charles Tillman, who was burned for 105 yards receiving by Chad Ochocinco in the first half alone.
“Basically, we need to start playing. Bottom line. This is the Chicago Bears. This is not how we play.”
Lovie Smith mentioned he was a coach on a Tampa Bay team that lost 45-0 and recovered to reach the NFC title game.
“Guys always say, ‘We’ve been in this situation before.’ Sometimes you get tired of being in this situation,” safety Danieal Manning said. “We need to get back to Chicago and look at the man in the mirror.”
One positive, though, may have emerged from the rubble of Sunday’s 45-10 defeat. Cutler, for the first time, pointed the finger of blame directly at himself, even though the defense was the main culprit.
“We can’t put our defense in that situation,” Cutler said of failing to score after any of the Bengals’ first four touchdowns. “We’ve got to answer back. That’s on me and the rest of the offense.”
“That’s just the kind of teammate Jay is,” Tillman said. “We hung our offense out to dry. We didn’t help ourselves.”
When Cutler wasn’t trying to take the blame, Lovie Smith was.
“I didn’t have my team ready to go,” he said.
“That’s the kind of coach Coach Smith is,” Tillman answered. “I take the blame for my part of what I did today. I don’t blame any coach. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody. If anybody, I blame myself.”
The Bears (3-3) were more united in this defeat than in any other this year.
“Three picks. That’s going to hurt us,” Cutler said, pointing to his three interceptions.
“I’ve got to start with No. 96,” said No. 96, defensive end Alex Brown.
“Goll-ee, it’s embarrassing to come out and play like that,” Brown added. “When you have a game like that, you really find out what you have deep down inside as a team.”
The Bears have found they are a team that can’t keep pushing its luck by falling behind early.
“It was too easy for Cincinnati,” defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. “It was another one of those games where we started slow, and today they kept steamrolling us. That came and bit us in the tail, not starting fast. When you play a good team and you start slow, they see that. They knew and pressed the throttle and kept going.
“As the teams get better and the season gets longer, you don’t have room to spot teams points and play catch-up. We have to come out faster.”
They have to do everything better than they did Sunday.
“We’re a better team than that,” Brown said. “But, today, I guess Cincy showed maybe we aren’t.”
Sticking together is the Bears’ first step in proving they are better. But it’s just one step. Chicago needs a whole lot more.
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.