Clumsy, confident Bears looking to grow between Primetime challenges

In week one, the Bears played a resilient, crafty half of football before the talent threshold dissolved in quarters three and four.  The team wasn’t outright pounded, but there were positives in spite of the loss.  It was the type of frustrating-yet-understandable loss fans have begrudgingly acclimated themselves to as the young & rebuilding Bears reinvent themselves.

The tolerance of reconstruction faded quickly, however.  Weeks two and three were most unfortunate, showcasing a team poor in preparation, poorer in execution, and while seemingly sporting an underbelly of talent, returns statistically have been perhaps the poorest aspect yet – all for the world to see, as the NFC East put a shellacking on a team which earned an 0-3 mark.

Camera shots highlighted Ryan Pace, his hands folded in contemplation, alone in his luxury box.  We also observed the venerable Virginia McCaskey looming over another Bears nationally televised embarrassment.

Mercifully, John Fox’s odd bunch are halfway done with their primetime games for the year (two more await in late October – a Thursday night “Color Rush” showdown with the Packers and a Halloween night contest against the Vikings), and before they face down these incredibly vital division games, the Bears got 3 very winnable noon kickoff contests to test their steel against.

Yesterday was the first sign of life the team has shown since the end of the 1st half against Houston.  The defense, peppered with young name after young name and led by Jerrell Freeman, made numerous big plays to hold the Lions without a touchdown.  Brian Hoyer, in spite of my dubious criticism, was crisp, decisive, and efficient with the football.  Rookie Jordan Howard, tipped off on Detroit tendencies by Joique Bell, blossomed in his debut as a starter, netting 111 rushing yards on 23 carries, showed poise in pass protection, and was effective out of the backfield as a receiver.

Kevin White, much maligned after a disappointing beginning to his faux-rookie campaign, showed flashes of greatness, catching 6 passes for 55 yards and his athleticism and speed were evident.  The enthusiasm was dampened a bit by news of an ankle injury on the same leg he had microfracture surgery on just a year ago – surgery that negated his entire rookie season – but for now, hesitant approval is the status quo.

There are several reasons to be curdled with reluctant enthusiasm, however:

  • Whitehair bumbled another 4th-and-1 snap, resulting in a loss of yards
  • Massie had two false starts & was lost/blown off the ball noticeably at times
  • Punt return team surrendered a late game touchdown, followed by Cam Meredith nearly giving the ball back to Detroit during the ensuing onside kick
  • Despite holding the Lions offense to field goals in the 1st half, the Bears offense only mustered 7 first half points
  • Connor Barth missed another field goal
  • The Lions were 1-2 entering the game, not exactly an elite team
But a win is a win is a win is a win, and the Bears, even in spite of themselves, found a way to secure a division win – in Soldier Field, of all places – and now have two more noon kickoffs against the 1-3 Colts and 1-3 Jaguars.
If the team continues to merely fight, compete, and endure their own mistakes, there’s a VERY real possibility that by Color Rush Thursday against the Packers in Lambeau, a 3-3 scrappy Bears team could be infinitely more prepared to show how far a team can come within a month.

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