Time is a construct and, as it turns out, so are the 2019 Bears. Before the season, there was an image of this team portrayed by management and accepted by fans - an image of a transcendent defense spurring a charge back to contention, complemented by an offense flush with dynamic weaponry, led by a franchise quarterback ready to take the next step in his second season under Matt Nagy.
But that was a false dream. It never existed. Not really, anyway. And the reality of 2019 - 3-5 through eight games, in all likelihood on the outside looking in on a stacked NFC playoff picture - has set in swiftly and savagely.
"If you would have told me before the year that halfway through the year, the Bears are basically dangling on the fence of out of playoff contention for good in the NFC, I would have been like, ‘Man, that's crazy, who got hurt? How many guys got hurt? There's no way,'" NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms recently said.
Granted, the Bears have been dealt a few doses of dour luck in Akiem Hicks missing the vast majority of the season, Trey Burton starting the year banged up, Anthony Miller being hampered during a key stretch with a concussion, Mitch Trubisky dislocating his left shoulder, Bilal Nichols breaking his hand and so on. But every NFL team deals with injuries week-in-week-out. The Bears can't say they've been more snake-bitten than anyone else.
"The defense is still special," Simms continued. "We know that, it just goes back to all the offensive problems and that side of the ball that's really led to a lot of these losses. I thought things were going in the right direction towards the end of last year, with the offense, the way Mitchell Trubisky was playing… but obviously I was wrong, and they've regressed in a lot of ways."
But even if the Bears don't miraculously turn around their 2019 season, some good can come out of their final eight games. Perhaps the casting aside of lofty expectations will loosen up the team's staff and players. Perhaps honest evaluation will lead to franchise-altering change this offseason.
Still, Simms' sentiment resonates. There is a certain surreality to where the team is right now that's hard to shake. But, from the Bears' perspective, forward is the only way.