Bears players knew very well what was at stake last week and the week before that and the week before that and
They did not do enough each time. The prospect of the collective light going on is the great unknown right now and sometimes it is open to question whether certain key figures fully grasp the moment.
I think any time you lose games, you lose consecutive games, theres going to be that doom that sets in of what we could do differently, what we should have done, said quarterback Jay Cutler. I think thats anywhere in the league. Even when I was in Denver, you lose a couple games here and there, and its the end of the world.
(It actually was, if you define world as playoffs.)
The three straight losses by the 2008 Broncos took them from 8-5 to out of the postseason. While it may have been convenient to blame a porous defense, the fact is that Cutler threw four interceptions vs. two touchdowns and failed to post a passer rating higher than 75 in any of those three games.
The 2012 Bears were 8-5 going into the Green Bay game and Cutlers passer rating (72.5) was eerily similar to those three failed efforts.
The point is not to single out Cutler. Others have dropped the ball literally and figuratively to put the Bears in their present fix. But no single player holds as much of the franchise future in his hands as No. 6.
What Cutler has established over his time in Chicago is that he is not a quarterback who is a consistent force for bringing his team from behind, particularly against a good defense, which Arizonas most definitely is.
The concerning element is that Cutler himself is more than capable of helping his team into a trail technique, as his first-half interceptions against Minnesota and Green Bay amply demonstrated. If that happens Sunday in the desert, the Bears project to have the kind of bad loss that gets head coaches fired.
And quarterbacks franchise credentials questioned.
Once the season is over, I think that this organization will take time to let things settle down and figure out what the necessary steps are going forward, Cutler allowed. But as players, we cant worry about that. That cant be in the back of our mind, cant be anything were concerned with. We can only have one concern right now, and thats Arizona.
Another must win
The Lovie Smith Bears are 12-50 when they fail to score at least 18 points. Five of those 12 wins were in the 2005 season when the defense was the NFLs best in points-allowed. The likelihood of Cutler directing the offense to at least 18 points against the Cardinals is problematic at best.
Whether Smith wanted to characterize the Green Bay game as a must win did not alter the fact that it was, because without a win, the Bears were reduced to waiting for playoff scraps rather than being able to order off the menu and affect what their own fortunes. Smith addressed that loss only in terms of the NFC North, which it indeed affected.
But the defeat dropped the Bears into the hopper of wannabes like Dallas, Washington, New York and Minnesota, which the Bears had throttled just three weeks earlier but could not put away in Minneapolis when they had the chance.
A nagging sub-question then became whether the Bears were in fact deteriorating, from a 28-10 breezing to a 21-14 study in inept offense against the same team. Did the Vikings get better or the Bears worse?
The loss to the Packers, turning just as the Minnesota game did, on Jay Cutler interceptions, gave a disturbing answer at a time when the head coach was being evaluated. And evaluations of head coaches jobs are less about game specifics but rather where the team is trending.
All I know how to do is come back and get it corrected the next week, said defensive end Julius Peppers. Weve got to win these two and see how everything else works out. But were going to win these last two.
We dont have any more chances. We have to win them all and whatever we can do, weve got to do it now.