By Adam Hoge-
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) It turns out the Bears aren’t for real.
Not right now at least.
All that talk from Lovie Smith about how his team hadn’t peaked yet? Well, after Monday night’s 32-7 disaster against the 49ers, it’s clear the Bears are going backwards.
It made sense at the time. The Bears were 7-1 and had done virtually nothing on offense — the side of the ball that was supposed to carry the team this season. They were bound to get even better, right?
Bears Fall To 49ers 32-7
Bernstein: Is Nature To Blame For Bears’ Flop?
Hoge’s Grades: Harbaugh Punks Bears Coaching Staff
Notebook: Cutler Didn’t Get ‘A Fair Shot’ But Cutler’s Outlook Is Good
Podcast: Doug & OB Postgame Show
Photos: 49ers 32, Bears 7
The last two weeks say otherwise as now there’s even less evidence suggesting the Bears offense will turn it around this season.
So is Lovie disappointed that his team has done the exact opposite of “peak” just as the schedule went from soft to fair? Sure, but it wouldn’t be like Lovie for him not to find the silver lining in an embarrassing performance.
“You have to take everything into consideration,” he said. “You talk about a couple other losses, we have to take 7-3 into it. And I’m not disappointed in us being at the top of our division, tied for the best record in our division. That’s the football team we are.”
Except that’s not the team the Bears are. The Packers already handed the Bears a pretty convincing loss in Week 2, and by virtue of that tiebreaker, Green Bay is the team atop the NFC North.
And, oh by the way, it’s the Packers who have battled through injury after injury to still score points at a much higher rate than the Bears. And Monday night was just another reminder of the large gap that exists between the two divisional rival offenses.
Sure, Jay Cutler didn’t play Monday night at Candlestick Park, but backup quarterback Jason Campbell was far from the only problem. There’s little question the issues start with the Bears’ offensive line, which is completely bi-polar. One week they’re shutting down J.J. Watt, the next week Aldon Smith is racking up 5.5 sacks.
But even with the line playing well against the Texans last week and Cutler in the game, points were nowhere to be found. Fast forward to the end of the 49ers’ game, and the Bears have one offensive touchdowns in the last eight quarters. Yes, Cutler only played in two of those quarters, but isn’t there enough evidence on the season — including against a number of sub-par opponents — that this offense isn’t clicking even with Cutler under center?
And that’s where Mike Tice comes in.
Tice’s game-plans have been questionable at best and there has been virtually no chemistry on his unit outside of the cute relationship between his quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver. He is also responsible for some of the offensive line problems. Did he bring in these offensive linemen? Well, actually, sort of. Tice’s son played with Gabe Carimi at Wisconsin and he pushed hard for the Outland Trophy winner before the Bears drafted him with the 29th overall pick in 2011. Tice has also made J’Marcus Webb his biggest project, with little to no progress. It’s entirely possible the organization would have looked elsewhere for a left tackle had Tice not repeatedly vouched for the former seventh round pick.
Honestly, at this point, it’s surprising the “Jay Cutler wants his buddy Jeremy Bates calling plays” stories haven’t surfaced yet. Of course, right now, he has more to worry about with just getting back on the field.
Simply put, the 2012 Bears offense — which came into the season with so much promise — is amazingly a disaster and worse than the always frustrating Mike Martz units.
Of course the offense didn’t allow 32 points Monday night.
To say the defense has been carrying this team all season is an understatement. So one can only imagine where the Bears are headed if the unit completely collapses.
Not to the playoffs, that’s for sure.
The good news is that other than one drive against the Texans last week, Monday was the first time all season defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was throughly out-schemed all season. The bad news is, the same definitely cannot be said for Tice.
Some might chalk up Monday night’s loss as just another chapter in the ugly history the Bears have had in San Francisco since their last win in 1985. The Bears have now lost eight games in San Francisco by a combined score of 271-49. But blaming one loss on nearly three decades of history makes as much sense as Lovie Smith saying the Bears can continue to win this season with this offensive line “because we won seven games with this offensive line,” as he did after the game.
The Bears won seven games because of its defense, not the offensive line, and based on what happened at The Stick Monday, there’s valid cause for concern that this defense might not be able to win the Bears many games the rest of the way by itself.
“We have to leave this game as quick as we possibly can,” Smith said.
Yes, you do. But you have to find an offense even quicker.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.