Sometimes things cease being funny and just become pathetic or perhaps even tragic.
That is the situation in which the Chicago Bears find themselves in right now. Touted as a potential Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season, things quickly went off the rails for Chicago. After a 2-1 start, the Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 and everything went downhill after that.
The Chicago defense, once the pillar the team was built around, continued to play poorly. They became the first team since the 1923 Rochester Generals to allow 50 points in back-to-back games after allowing 51 against the New England Patriots followed by the 55-14 destruction at the hands of the Packers. What’s even worse is the loss to the Packers came after the bye week. Even with two weeks to prepare, the Chicago defense still wet the bed.
Still, the defense was still expected to struggle a bit in 2014 (though not as bad as it has been all season) and that it was the Jay Cutler-led offense that would carry the team to the promised land. With Matt Forte in the backfield and Brandon Marshall and the emerging Alshon Jeffrey catching passes, 2014 was finally going to be the year Cutler established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
It didn’t happen, and Cutler (who is making more than any other offensive player in the NFL this season) finds himself benched for Jimmy Clausen (JIMMY CLAUSEN!) going into Week 16. Marc Trestman, heralded only one year ago for his quarterback “whispering ability,” is likely out of a job this season and Cutler will also probably be packing his bags once the season is over. Being a turnover machine will do that to a quarterback, no matter how foolishly large their contract is.
This Bears team has been one of great amusement for Packers fans, but given recent developments and how bad the Chicago team has been, you have to feel genuinely sorry for fans of the Bears.
The Packers/Bears rivalry is the oldest rivalry in the NFL. It’s also one of the best in all of sports. While it is nice to consistently beat up the arch rival, it’s also becoming an empty victory of sorts when the opposition is so pathetic.
Packers fans in their late thirties and older remember when the shoe was on the other foot. The Bears teams of the 1980s were constantly taking a pathetic Packers team to the woodshed. It wasn’t until Bret Favre’s arrival in 1992 that Green Bay was able to turn the tables on their rival to the south. Beating the Bears in the 1980s would have, long term anyway, meant more to the Packers than beating the Bears when they’re in bad shape and Green Bay is a juggernaut.
Rivalry games mean more when both teams are in top form. While the games are often nail biters, winning those games also means more to victor and hurts more to the defeated. Again, walloping the Chicago Bears is fun to do but rings hollow when they are in such bad shape.
After this season, the Bears likely will rebuild and will face the Packers in 2015 with both a new head coach and a new quarterback. Hopefully, for the sake of the rivalry, these games will once again be the instant classic so many other Packers/Bears games have become.
Fans of both teams deserve nothing less.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke