By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) The results and on-field play are already bad for the Bears, and it’s looking likely that they’re going to get worse before they get better. There’s still a bottoming out that has to occur and sadly, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. That’s OK, if you let it be. It’s OK, if coach John Fox has a long view instead of being short-sighted.
When Fox was hired in January, you wondered how much patience he was going to have. At 60, is he a win-now type of coach or would he be willing to pound salt for a couple of years until the roster hopefully improves?
You’ve got to reconcile your feelings with it, too. The Packers game may have given you the warm fuzzies, but my hope for last week’s column was to prepare you for what was coming. The talent gap between the Bears and the rest of the division — and honestly, the rest of the league — is cavernous. The more games that they play, the more apparent it will become. It’s going to take a couple years of smart drafting and shrewd free-agency moves to get them to a place where the improved coaching can actually have an impact.
Which brings me to the Jay Cutler injury.
It looks like Cutler is going to miss a couple of weeks with what the Bears say is a hamstring injury. You got a glimpse of what the world looks like without him. It looked like Pottersville (is “It’s A Wonderful Life” too old of a reference?). Anyway, it was bleak. By all accounts, Jimmy Clausen’s a good guy, a good teammate and a hard worker. He just might not be an NFL quarterback. I expect with a week of coaching, he’ll look a little bit better, and Adam Gase will be able to tailor the scheme to the Clausen’s skill set, as limited as it may be.
On Sunday, I talked to quite a few fans who were looking for answers on the scrap heap. “Bring back Rex Grossman!” “Sign Tim Tebow!” That’s a sample of the outcry I saw.
There are no saviors out there. Look around the league. There’s not enough quarterback talent to go around. Plenty of teams are struggling to just find a starter, let alone having a competent backups. As the NFL has expanded and college teams have gone to spread looks, finding pro-style, NFL-ready quarterbacks is tough.
What that means for you is that there’s going to be some suffering that goes on. You’re going to have to watch Clausen go up against an angry Seattle team that’s almost impossible to beat at home. And you’re going to have to do it knowing that help isn’t on the way. There’s no sleeper pick sitting on a couch or at an anchor desk or even on the practice squad who’s going to come in and save the Bears.
The beginning of an NFL season is intoxicating. Everyone thinks they have a chance. The Bears don’t. Like Fox, you’re going to have to figure out if you can truly stomach a rebuild. Because it’s happening whether you like it or not. The truth is, like Fox, you’re going to have to pound salt this season, too.
So did you frame the Bears’ participation ribbon from the Packers game or did you put it on the refrigerator?
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.