COMMENTARY | After a game in which the Chicago Bears surrendered 500 yards and 45 points, you would think that naming five duds would be an easy task. And you'd be right.
The hard part is narrowing the list down to just five players. Devin Hester, Matt Forte, and Josh McCown gave fans reason to celebrate, but they couldn't overcome the antagonists in this story.
A game that wavered between thriller, comedy, and tragedy eventually fell flat at the box office for the Bears. Let's take a look at the five duds who played a role in this flop.
Beginning in the Middle Ages, the spice trade, particularly in black pepper, drove the world economy. In the days before refrigeration, spices were very expensive and were prized for their flavor and their ability to mask the unsavory taste and smell of meat that had gone past its enjoy-by date.
As I've written before, the Bears defense appears to have gone bad and is in dire need of spice at this point. Only trouble is, Chicago is paying a heavy price for Julius Peppers and he's doing nothing to cover their stench. If anything, his absolute lack of production has added to it.
With a cap hit of about $14.4 million this year, Peppers has earned $6.3 million per sack (that would be just 1 in 7 games) and $420,000 for each tackle (15). If you think that's egregious, consider this: Peppers' cap hit jumps to $18.2 million next season and $20.7 in 2015.
If his production doesn't increase dramatically coming out of the bye week, the Bears are going to need to find a new route by which to acquire their spices.
It might be unfair to single Conte out for being beaten on two Redskin TD passes. But there are only three types of fair: the county fair, state fair, and World's Fair. Everything else is not fair.
It wasn't fair when blown coverage on a goal-to-go pass play forced Conte to sprint out wide to check uncovered TE Jordan Reed. It wasn't fair when his incidental contact with WR Aldrick Robinson caused him to stumble, allowing a 45-yard score.
But it's not fair that Bears fans had to watch the Redskins march up and down the field on Sunday either. On the bright side, Conte is only (only!) earning $555,000 this season, so his performance can perhaps be likened to renting a bad Redbox movie.
A friend of mine asked me after the game whether I thought it was convenient that Cutler happens to come up lame when he's playing poorly. If that was the case, I reasoned, he'd have been hurt a lot more over the course of his tenure with the Bears.
While I don't believe the groin tear is a cover-up in any way, shape, or form, it can't be denied that Cutler was indeed laying an egg prior to his departure. That is, if you consider 3-8 for 28 yards and an 8.3 passer rating laying an egg.
For the sakes of both his future employment and the Bears playoff hopes, Jay needs to come back strong, and soon. And hey, if football doesn't pan out, there's always acting. In the meantime, he would do well to avoid climbing the stairs at Mastro's Steakhouse.
I know, I know: coaches aren't the ones out there missing tackles and blowing coverage. But Tucker is flailing, if not failing, in his attempt to film a reboot of Lovie Smith's Tampa 2. The result has been more like The Expendables 2, only not as campy and without Chuck Norris.
Tucker promised to maintain the framework of the Bears D while dialing up the blitzing. And although the Bears are at the top of the league in INTs and TDs, their 9 sacks lead only the Pittsburgh Steelers (8) and New York Giants (6).
As his stars continue to drop out of the production, Tucker is going to be forced to employ more and more extras. And with the Green Bay Packers (twice), Detroit Lions, and Dallas Cowboys still to come, the Bears DC might be hearing "Cut!" from the front office.
After twice exceeding 1300 return yards for the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears handed Weems a 3-year deal worth $4.2 million. In 23 games with the Bears, Weems has amassed only 269 return yards and has added just 2 catches on offense.
While playing with Devin Hester, the greatest return man in NFL history, is sure to put a dent in your stats, Weems was brought on to be a special teams maven. But his offsides penalty on the Bears' surprise onside kick attempt Sunday spoke louder than his lack of production.
Rather than getting credit for recovering the kick, the Bears had to cede possession back to the Redskins. While the frame-by-frame replay revealed Weems' error to be little more than allowing his knee to break the plane of the 35-yard line, and while the 'Skins didn't convert on the re-kick, the momentum shift was palpable.
When your job consists primarily of being a part of the scenery, it's unfortunate that Weems' moment on center stage came as the result of a miscue. But when you earn millions of dollars to do a specific job, you need to make absolutely certain you're on your mark every time.
But it's not all doom and gloom for the Bears. After all, they've now got two weeks to lick their wounds and review film, whether it's the Director's Cut or the edited-for-TV version. And they'll need the rest in preparation for Week 9 against the Packers on Monday Night Football too.
Lovie Smith's versions of that matchup too often looked like grindhouse horror films, but here's to hoping Marc Trestman can make a few creative edits and give Bears fans a blockbuster.
Evan Altman grew up in Northwest Indiana, where the Bears reigned supreme. He now lives in the heart of Colts country, but you can hear his kids singing "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" every gameday.
- American Football
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- Julius Peppers