Bernstein: Bears Better Than Bad
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By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
The Giants are the equivalent of 500 milligrams of Aleve – if you can get past what they might do to your stomach, you end up feeling somewhat better for a little while.
A few hours later, the pain gradually returns.
An awful team met an OK team on a Thursday night, and the resulting product was predictably sloppy and unsatisfying, spurring neither grand, new hope or abject misery for the Bears. The best that can be said, perhaps, is they succeeded in letting their opponent give them the game, 27-21.
Beating the winless and aimless ultimately tells us little about the victor, but whatever the outcome meant will be overshadowed by evidence of serious dysfunction on defense, special teams, and rushing offense.
- Hoge: Defense No Longer The Bears’ Heartbeat
- Durkin’s Rapid Reaction: Bears Capitalize on Giants’ Mistakes
- Hoge’s Notes: Offense Stays Clean, But Is Far From Perfect
- Bears Stop Skid, Beat Winless Giants 27-21
- Photo Gallery
The Bears’ tackling was terrible, with defenders bouncing off of old, tired Brandon Jacobs as he rumbled for 106 yards on 22 carries. Jacobs was called out of retirement to play this year, forgoing Pringles and SpongeBob for stepping on Chris Conte’s face.
Confused cornerbacks, busted coverages and inexperienced linebackers got walled out of gaps. The no-name interior of the defensive line played like it.
Another kickoff returner busted one for 47 yards, too. Devin Hester was yelling at Robbie Gould on the sidelines after a weird pooch-kick, when he could have been learning how not to run the ball out from nine yards deep in his own end zone.
Jay Cutler was careful and effective, and Brandon Marshall seemed to get sufficient attention to at least temporarily validate his earthly existence. The run game was sclerotic, however: outside of Cutler’s scrambles the Bears ran it 26 times for 90 yards. That includes a 15-yard end-around by Alshon Jeffery, so the message is clear that the blocking is substandard.
Still, Eli Manning’s alarming decline continued, his miscommunications providing an early chance and an early score, and his late interception yet again through the slip-fingered hands of a receiver sealing the loss. He did engineer touchdown drives of 80, 80, and 91 yards, racking up 355 yards of offense on the road, but he did himself in.
These Thursday night games suck, and for good reason. Human bodies – even ones expertly conditioned and pharmaceutically empowered, just aren’t ready for car accidents five days apart. Inactive lists include significant contributors, and even the “healthy” remainder of the roster is not yet recovered.
Everybody looks like they are running in hummus.
It was that increased randomness and volatility that haunted this game leading up to the second Tim Jennings pick. So little continued to separate a broken bottom-feeder from an aspiring contender with a bright new coach, up until it was over. Those of us wary of a two-time champion’s spasm of competence had ample reason to make sure the clock would really zero out before it happened.
But the unspeakable was avoided, and the Bears can rest for a while at the relative peace of 4-2, with the 58 percent playoff probability that comes with that record instead of the 38 percent afforded by 3-3, and reasonably confident that consecutive losses didn’t define them any more than their successful start.
It wasn’t good. It could have been worse.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM (or you can listen online).
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