PHILADELPHIA – Coach Marc Trestman has made something out of his rookie season as a head coach in the NFL by bringing out some resiliency in his players. They have shaken off a number of spirit-crushing defeats to win the following weeks.
Now he and the Bears have maybe their ultimate resiliency check as he and his team played their way into a winner-take-all game for the NFC North division championship with a 54-11 nightmare involving the Philadelphia Eagles.
“If we bounce back from this game, then we deserve to be in the playoffs,” defensive tackle Stephen Paea said simply. “If we don’t, we didn’t belong.”
That bounce-back will have to come possibly against Aaron Rodgers, whose dominance of the Bears has been near absolute in the years since Brett Favre left the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was still unable to play Sunday as the Packers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-31, at Lambeau Field hours before the Bears took the field.
[JAY CUTLER: 'We got beat down' in loss to Eagles]
With the playoffs within their grasp, the Bears responded with their worst performance of the season, falling behind 24-0 in the first half and ultimately giving up 514 yards, a safety, a touchdown return off an interception, a fumbled kickoff return to set up a touchdown, and five sacks – all among the worsts for the season.
“We’ll throw this tape in the trash can,” said coach Marc Trestman. "Coaches will evaluate it and we’ll clean up what we need to for next week.”
Not everything can be cleaned up. The problem the Bears had with the Philadelphia Eagles offense had little to do with the speed with which the Eagles set up to run plays. It had everything with how quickly the Eagles ran plays AFTER the snaps – on offense, defense and special teams.
The Eagles brutalized Bears pass protection. They became the fourth team to rush for 200 yards (289 ultimately) against Chicago this season, with two others rushing for 198 and 199 yards.
Any positive that might have been taken from Jay Cutler’s spectacular fourth-quarter performance in the win at Cleveland last week was lost under an avalanche of bad by every unit and nearly every individual player.
“No excuses,” said running back Matt Forte, who finished with a season-low 29 rushing yards on all of nine carries. “Everybody played bad. And whenever you do that, you’re not going to have a chance, especially against a team like that.”
[TRESTMAN: We were terrible in all three phases]
The result, coming after the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers had lost, took them from “in” the playoffs to worrying all week if the Green Bay Packers will get Rodgers back from the shoulder injury defensive end Shea McClellin gave him back on Nov. 4.
If anything, Sunday’s loss was the more alarming because the Bears performed that badly with the full knowledge in advance of the game’s importance.
“Our players knew,” Trestman said. “We knew what was at stake tonight and we just didn’t get it done.”
But with an eye toward the overall and big picture, he added: “If we said in April we’d have an opportunity to go to the playoffs and win our last game, we’d be in.”