9:50 AM CST, February 4, 2013
You know what the worst thing is about watching the Super Bowl?
Yes, that wretched spinach-artichoke dip that always looks as if someone scraped used tissues into an over-safe serving dish, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
No, the worst thing is seeing how far away the Bears are -- how far away they are from winning it, how far away they are from getting there.
You can’t help but compare the Super Bowl teams to the Bears, especially the winners when you’re dealing with a copycat league. So, you can’t help but be depressed, especially when you look at the offenses.
This might not be news, but it serves as the latest reminder that the Bears aren’t as close to holding the silver trophy as they are to wearing red noses.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco roared through the playoffs by throwing 11 touchdowns against no interceptions. Can you imagine Jay Cutler doing that in the postseason?
Heck, can you imagine Cutler doing that over any four-game stretch at any point, even on Madden?
It’s a quarterback’s league, and Flacco ended any debate over whether he’s elite. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t just the number, it was the timing. Flacco made big plays when only big plays would suffice. If you’re going to play, then you might as well play big enough to win the MVP award.
Flacco completed six passes to tight ends, one for a touchdown. Let me repeat that: tight ends. Plural. The Ravens have two tight ends who can catch passes, while the Bears’ starting tight end can’t stand up. Fun.
Flacco also threw touchdowns to two wide receivers. Can you imagine Cutler having more than one target? Outside of a fantasy team, I mean.
The Bears have a version of Anquan Boldin in Brandon Marshall, who regularly goes over 100 yards or close, and gets into the end zone. Or at least he did until Marshall contracted the choking contagion that overtook the Bears.
After that on the perimeter, pffft. Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones started the second half by taking the kickoff a record-tying 108 yards. Earlier, Jones came back to making a rolling, diving catch of a bomb, then jumped up, juked a couple 49ers and raced into the end zone. Jones became the first player to score TDs on a reception and kick return in the same Super Bowl.
The Bears have that guy -- no, wait, the Bears used to have that guy. But Devin Hester has devolved into the same kind of fake kick returner that he became as wide receiver. That might be the most painful sign of how far away the Bears are.
But wait. There’s more. Not only does Flacco have more options than Cutler, but he also has a better offensive line. Flacco was sacked twice and had to scramble several other times, which made his performance even more impressive. But Flacco’s offensive line is good and physical. It’s a cohesive unit that was drafted, signed and coached seemingly with a consistent plan instead of a blocking version of a Rubik’s Cube.
It’s not all dismal, however. Matt Forte can gain yards as well or better than Baltimore’s Ray Rice. When the Bears want to use Forte, that is. Forte also is a better receiving option out of the backfield, an advantage that new coach Marc Trestman figures to exploit.
The Bears won 10 games last season, but they were a fake 10 wins. The Bears beat one real team, if you consider the Vikings real, and they lost big and badly to all the good teams they played. They choked at the end of the season again, this time with important offensive players healthy.
Trestman was brought in to fix this. His job is to make it all better, starting with Cutler. The game plan couldn’t be more obvious and timely. Flacco answered the biggest questions a quarterback faces, and he did it in a contract year. Flacco had Cutler’s season.
Or maybe I should ask whether Cutler could ever have Flacco’s season.
Cutler is older and has more experience. Flacco has more of everything else -- everything that matters, from playoff games to, now, jewelry.
See why watching a Super Bowl from Chicago is the worst?
But there is a bright side to Sunday’s events: The Bears weren’t nearly as lame as the Super Bowl commercials.
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