This was one of the gimmes on the schedule. The Chiefs were one of the three remaining cupcakes that would help get the Bears to 10 wins and a likely playoff spot.
Instead, this was pathetic. This was comical. Embarrassing. A joke. A disaster in so many ways.
In a tough situation, the Bears disintegrated. They were without Jay Cutler and would lose starting tailback Matt Forte for the game and likely a lot more, and even lost Julius Peppers for a while.
But still, this was the Chiefs team that had lost four in a row, hadn’t scored a touchdown in 45 possessions, and started a backup quarterback who had thrown three interceptions in each of his last two starts.
Here’s how miserable the Bears were: The Chiefs tried to use a better quarterback, but Kyle Orton hurt his right index finger on his first play in the second quarter, so it was back to Tyler Palko, and at the end of the first half, he ran a 16-play TD drive.
No lie. The Bears couldn’t stop Tyler Palko in 16 plays. Tyler Palko, do you hear me? The guy shotputs passes, and the Bears let him in the end zone for a halftime lead on his first NFL TD pass.
But wait. It got worse. The Bears defense, the supposed heart of the team, allowed Palko to run a 15-play drive for a field goal in the third quarter. Those two series alone were more plays than the Bears had run total to that point.
And that was because Caleb Hanie was awful. Rotten. Horrific and every other synonym for stunk you can think of.
Bears coach Lovie Smith didn’t want all the blame to be placed on Hanie. Tough. It’s there. In this league, it’s always there.
Hanie was supposed to be better. He had a bad first half in Oakland last week, then showed much better in the second half. He was supposed to carry on this week.
But no. He was a toxic waste dump: 11 of 24 for 133 yards, three interceptions, and a Rex-like quarterback rating of 23.8 in leading the Bears to a perfect 0-for-11 on third down.
Hanie missed high and wide, short and long. When he wasn’t missing, he was holding the ball so long he was sacked seven times. It got so bad that he dropped back in the fourth quarter and flat dropped the ball.
Admit it, you thought Cutler left-handed would be better.
When asked if his performance was a step backward, Hanie inexplicably answered, “I’ll have to evaluate that on tape.’’ A 23.8 quarterback rating. Evaluation over. Hanie should’ve been smarter and sharper, but was every bit of Jonathan Cade Henry Quinn McNown Burris.
“It’s one loss,’’ Smith said, “and we have to change things around quickly.’’
Change what? You can’t change your defense. That’s the best thing you have.
You can’t change special teams. That’s the second-best unit you have.
So, you’re left to change the offense. But change what?
Injury already changed the quarterback and tailback, so now you’re left with Hanie handing off to Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell. Fun.
Change the offensive line? The Bears would’ve done that even before the blockers allowed the worst pass rush in the league to pants them.
Change the receivers? Go ahead and cut Roy Williams after that bobble at the goal line that became the killer turnover of the game, but that alone doesn’t make you good enough to beat a good team.
That’s the worst part of the Bears’ performance. They were at home against a bad team led by a bad quarterback, and they lost. They inspire no confidence at this point because Hanie inspires no confidence. He showed no confidence in himself. He trusted little about him play, his line and his receivers.
The knee-jerk reaction is to call for Donovan McNabb. He couldn’t be worse than Hanie, right? Actually, he could, but even if he isn’t, he’s not a Super Bowl quarterback these days.
Josh McCown? He’s on the roster, barely. He’s somewhat familiar with Mike Martz’s system. But if he was any good, he wouldn’t have been on the street.
Nathan Enderle? Stop right now.
The Bears’ only hope is that Hanie gets better and smarter. Quicker reads, quicker release, more accurate throws, and it wouldn’t hurt to slow a big pass rush with some screens.
Sure, the defense and special teams can help by scoring. In fact, they have to. But it starts and ends with big improvement from Hanie, even if evidence suggests that’s as unlikely as making the playoffs, if not as impossible as winning the Super Bowl.