By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Anybody have 1000 pounds of marijuana?
I’ll share, I promise.
We’ll rip open a few bags of Doritos, put on some Thelonious Monk, Steely Dan, or A Tribe Called Quest, and hold a wake for the 2011 Bears, who finally rolled over and died in the dirt after stringing us along through as miserable a four-week stretch as anybody here can remember.
They did it in front of the stunned, silent home fans, displaying the truth of their thin, banged-up roster and making clear what has probably been the story since Jay Cutler got hurt: they never had a shot.
They were “a few plays away” in Oakland, giving optimists and apologists the chance to hope that Caleb Hanie would improve with every live-fire snap. Then came the unspeakable hell of the Chiefs game, followed by the excruciating, impossible loss to the Anointed One in Denver.
Through it all, the true-believers held fast to the idea that defense and special teams could minimize Cutler’s absence against lesser foes, providing a puncher’s chance in the playoffs once he returned from hi-tech thumb surgery. Even I allowed myself to envision the possibility of that case, rationalizing that just enough could go the Bears’ way.
But I’m an idiot, remember.
In hindsight, it seems inevitable that it would finally crumble. Messages from any coach start to resonate less amid such frustration, an overburdened defense was bound to tire, and most importantly, there just weren’t enough good players left.
One wide receiver cracked in half and carted off, another hobbled, and one standing in a jumpsuit and shackles before a federal judge. Good times.
As quickly as Sam Hurd found himself out of the NFL, Hanie seems to want to give him a run for his money. He is far removed, now, from his eyebrow-raising relief stint in the NFC title game, and is looking like a free-agent who will have to fight it out with a draft pick to make another team. He got more playing time, and got worse.
So it’s time for the usual, big-picture questions, now. Will the weary Jerry Angelo keep up his defiant posture regarding his future, or will he quietly step down, whistling Dixie into retirement? Indeed, it may not be his choice. Bad players can’t matter this much.
The Mike Martz thing has to be over, right? Two years of whatever that was, and now something else to get the most out of Cutler while he’s in his prime and an aging defense can still perform. There will be new options for an offensive mind, with the previous concerns about both Lovie Smith’s job-security and Cutler’s leadership seemingly settled.
And we move on, finally able to stop pretending that the Bears were really in the hunt for anything this year. We can let it go, feeling a little silly about expecting something that wasn’t going to happen.
It took the Seahawks, of all teams, to slap everyone in the face and tell us all to stop being stupid.
In a way, it’s a relief.
For the Bears and their fans, this last month has been a bitch.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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