Last week, we watched the Bears handle the division-leading Detroit Lions with ease, improving their record to 5-8 with a soft schedule to close out the final four games.
Somehow, someway, legitimate playoff hope emerged.
Which lasted…a week.
A month ago, Joe Flacco was sitting on his couch, essentially carrying out a forced retirement due to age and lack of production. The 38-year-old had served as a backup for the Jets for the past 3 seasons but was not on a roster to start 2023. Fast forward a few months into the season, the Cleveland Browns signed Joe Flacco to the practice squad on November 19th after Deshaun Watson had season-ending surgery. He was heading into his third start of the season for the Browns against the Bears.
Joe Flacco has been considered by many to be one of the worst quarterbacks ever to win a Super Bowl. Bears fans were confident heading into this matchup despite how good the Browns are defensively and with how the last time Justin Fields played in Cleveland went. The Bears have been playing good football in the past month, and it was hard to believe Joe freaking Flacco would be enough of a difference-maker.
Adam Hoge said it best when he was asked on the CHGO post-game show – why did the Bears lose this game, and he simply answered, “Because, Bears.”
The Bears led 17-7 heading into the 4th quarter. Joe FREAKING Flacco then threw for 212 yards in the 4th quarter alone – the most by any Browns QB in any quarter since 1991. A big 51-yard touchdown to Amari with 3:08 left in the 4th tied it up at 17-17. Bears offense followed it up with a quick 3-and-out, and the Browns then went 63 yards in 8 plays to secure a field goal to take the lead at 20-17. The Bears had some time left on the clock, and on the final play a hail-mary attempt ended up right in the basket of Darnell Mooney. Naturally, he didn’t make the catch, and the Bears gave up their THIRD double-digit lead in the 4th quarter this season.
There’s so much to digest from this game it’s physically exhausting. You can point the finger at Luke Getsy’s offense and his play-calling, or Matt Eberflus refusing to use Cairo Santos and take points, or Justin Fields. Some might want to point the finger at the defense for giving up another double-digit 4th quarter lead, and yes, while the late collapses are an issue – that unit did more than enough to win. Not only did Tremaine Edmunds have a pick-six, but picked off Flacco three times and sacked him six times. The offense isn’t doing them any favors because of their inability to sustain any drives in the 4th quarter to keep the defense off the field.
I’d like to defend Justin Fields a bit as well because, at some point, you need guys to help you out and make a play for you. Robert Tonyan dropped a ball that was right in his breadbasket and would have been a walk-in touchdown. When Chiefs receivers drop passes or make mistakes, that narrative is created instantly in defense of Patrick Mahomes because we all know Mahoax could never do anything wrong – why doesn’t Justin Fields get that same benefit?
The harsh reality is that however the Bears decide to move forward this offseason, there is going to be division. Division not only within the fanbase, but the locker room itself too.
DJ Moore, in his post-game, just flat out said the quiet part out loud as if he was talking directly to Ryan Poles:
“I don’t think (Caleb Williams & Drake Maye) are better than Justin.”
Despite having an abundance of power with likely having the #1 overall pick and an additional top 5 pick while also having the most cap space in the league – the road to happiness feels like it’s blocked off for useless and nonexistent construction.
Without an obvious direction, this organization will fail to be unified. The Bears are the football team that needs push/pull labels on doors and caution hot labels on coffee cups. Failure to be unified will only cause this vicious cycle of inventing new ways to lose football games to continue. The Bears are the Bears because they are the Bears. That might sound stupid, but you know exactly what it means. They are the masters of their own demise.
But hey, at least the Packers lost, too, right?