8:56 AM CST, December 19, 2012
If the Bears are going to make the playoffs, or even win another game, it’s pretty basic:
Their stars have to play like stars.
I heard that idea from a hockey coach decades ago during the playoffs, except he phrased it, “Our best players have to be our best players.’’
Same thing, and no matter how you say it, the idea is critical for the Bears this week and the rest of the season, however long the season lasts.
In yet another offensive disaster against the Packers on Sunday, Brandon Marshall scored a touchdown. And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the Bears’ list of stars playing like stars last week.
Sure, Jay Cutler threw the ball to Marshall, so you’d think that would count as a star playing like a star.
But no. The Bears’ biggest name came up small. Maybe smallest.
Cutler’s inexplicable throw that was sort of aimed at Devin Hester became the turning point. It was a play that can’t happen but always does happen when Cutler is playing the Packers. The Packers have said that Cutler will throw them the ball, and he did because he always does.
But Cutler wasn’t alone among big names coming up small, and that’s the problem.
You can argue whether the interception was Cutler’s fault or Hester’s, but you can’t fight the fact that Hester is not a wide receiver, no matter how stupid Lovie Smith wants to look in shoving him out there. Hester can’t always line up right, can’t read coverage, and couldn’t run good routes if he got a Garmin for Christmas.
But wait. There’s something worse. Hester hasn’t returned a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown in more than a year. The Bears paid Hester a ton of dough to be dangerous somewhere, anywhere. With the offense nearly the most laughable in the league, the Bears need special teams to score. They do have a special teams touchdown, but should Hester be outscored by Corey Wootton?
Matt Forte looked like a monumental waste of money. Third-and-goal from the 1, fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Forte still hasn’t reached the end zone. Maybe it’s me, but I think you ought to get more for your $17 million.
Julius Peppers recorded 1 1/2 sacks, but his roughing-the-passer penalty on a third-and-7 incomplete pass felt like a killer in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Packers didn’t score on the drive, but they ate up another two minutes of an eight-point game.
Charles Tillman forced a fumble, but was beaten for one of three touchdown catches by James Jones.
Lance Briggs was everywhere in leading the Bears in tackles, but he created zero turnovers on a defense that must create at least three of them if the team is going to win, according to Smith.
The Bears made a ton of other mistakes the way they always do against Green Bay and the way they have for the last six weeks.
Roberto Garza’s snap infraction took them out of field-goal range on the first drive. Alshon Jeffery committed enough pass interference penalties to show he’s a slow learner. Blake Costanzo failed to get off the field in time on a punt return, allowing the Packers to retain possession. Chris Conte committed pass interference in the end zone to set up a Green Bay touchdown one play later.
The Bears obviously can’t live with such stupid football from anyone, but when their stars fail, they’ve flushed millions down the toilet. Those guys get the big money to make big plays. Recently, it has been a big nothing.
The Bears have no chance if their best players perform like their worst.
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