Monday, December 19, 2011

Bears: Last will and testament

Posted By on 12.19.11 at 11:00 AM

321px-Jay_Cutler_Bears_vs_49ers.jpg
  • John Martinez Pavliga/Wikimedia Commons
Let the Bleader's Testament Week begin with the Bears formulating their last will. Whatever playoff hopes they had were dashed by their 38-14 loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, in which they were outscored 31-0 in the second half. The Bears might still be mathematically alive, but otherwise, to quote a certain timely Dickens work, they're "dead as a doornail."

Mike Ditka came up with a phrase to describe the Bears when things got this bad: "a team in disarray." That sums up the Bears in the second half Sunday, but to be fair there were ameliorating circumstances—much more than when Ditka was presiding over that team in disarray.

The Bears' sudden collapse is testimony to the importance of the quarterback position in the National Football League. The great tragedy of this season is that Jay Cutler was looking better than ever when he went down with a broken thumb in the tenth game of the season. By lifting the Bears to a 7-3 record, in spite of being routinely manhandled by opposing defenses, Cutler rehabilitated himself from his much-criticized nonperformance in last season's National Football Conference championship game against the Green Bay Packers. As Fox Sports informed fans Sunday, a 7-3 team goes on to make the playoffs 83 percent of the time. The Bears, however, have not won since losing Cutler. Not coincidentally, the Indianapolis Colts, perennial Super Bowl contenders, suffered 13 straight losses without their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, out for the season with a neck injury, until they finally won Sunday.

Without Cutler, the Bears encountered bad luck and worse play until things finally unraveled completely on Sunday. "This is not our team," middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was quoted as saying. "This is not how we're supposed to play." Yet, to borrow a line from "It's a Wonderful Life": "One man's life touches so many others. When he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole." Just as the Bears' season collapsed without Urlacher a few years ago, the same went for life without Cutler.

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