THE MORNING AFTER: This all looks familiar
ARLINGTON, TX – Where have we seen this before? Oh, last year.
Same week. Same record. Same major injury. Same pregame dread. Same postgame cringe.
It’s no longer 2015 but it sure felt like it here in 2016 as September gets ready to close and October soon dawns. Once again, of all teams, it will be the Cubs who must save Bears fans from what looks like a dark fall.
Last year I described the Bears third loss of the year – a 26-0 drubbing at the hands of the Seahawks – a perfect example of how the team was in rebuilding mode. Well it’s a new year and the same mantra fits right in with what looks like a lost group.
After an embarrassing loss to the Eagles at home (last year was the Cardinals) the Bears hit the road for Dallas without their starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Just like a year ago there was an impending sense of dread from the fans as they approached a game with a national audience where the chance of victory seemed remote.
Like 2015 those premonitions came true in a forgettable Sunday night in Arlington where the Bears fell behind quickly and never rallied in a 31-17 defeat. For a third-straight year a Bears’ back-up quarterback couldn’t lead the team to victory and once again the team is 0-3 on the year.
“The bad thing about the first three games is that we haven’t put a complete game together,” said John Fox afterwards at AT&T Stadium.”We’ve been on the road twice and once at home and that’s where we are.”
That location is not good enough for the Bears. Right now that is among the bottom teams in the NFL.
To be very fair injuries have taken a major chunk out of the team’s lineup leaving them vulnerable to a bad performance just six days after a Monday nightmare against the Eagles. No Danny Trevethan (thumb surgery) or Bryce Callahan (concussion) and Lamarr Houston (end of season ACL tear) to help the defensive unit on this night and it showed.
At least last year it was a veteran Seahawks team that methodically picked the Bears apart in Seattle. This time it was a pair of rookies in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The latter gashed the Bears for 140 yards on the ground and put himself on a few highlight reels with a fourth quarter running hurdle of safety Chris Prosinski. Prescott wasn’t as flashy but was just as effective as he continued his impressive start to his NFL career by completing all but five of his 24 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. HIs
A lot of the 447 yards gained by the Cowboys came in the first half when the sprinted out to a 24-3 lead and never really looked back en route to their second win of the season.
Is there a difference in this loss compared to the Seattle one a year ago? Sure.
For one Brian Hoyer looks like a much more competent backup than Jimmy Clausen was a year ago as he threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Zach Miller, who had just seven catches in the first two games, got eight on Sunday including the Bears’ two scores while Kevin White snagged six balls.
Problem was that most of the damage was done in the second half when the game was close to a foregone conclusion. Good for the Bears not to give up but the effort could have been used much earlier.
“It’s good to see that we have that perseverance even in tough times,” said Hoyer of the second half surge. “You have to take that and build on that and earlier on find a way to move the ball a little better.”
Not that the finish is going to make fans feel any better about their team as the first quarter of the season nears the end. For a second-straight season the talk is more about draft position than playoff position for a team that seems like they are still very much in rebuilding mode.
Didn’t we say that last year at this time? Yeah, probably.