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Ivey: Bears fans should not expect an improved season

| Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Watching the Chicago Bears for the past five years has been more of a chore than anything else.

This was especially true Sunday, when the Bears were dismantled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 29-7. A late touchdown allowed us Bears fans to comfort ourselves with: “Well at least they didn’t get shut out.”

Because that’s considered progress by us Bears fans nowadays.

This was just a week after the Bears almost went the distance against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. With under two minutes left and down by six points, Bears starting quarterback (for now) Mike Glennon engineered an impressive two-minute drill that stalled in the red zone. Glennon and the Bears had four opportunities to find the endzone. Glennon’s receivers dropped clear touchdown passes in the end zone twice. Twice.

“That was such a Bears way to lose,” could be heard on the way out of Soldier Field. Apparently, the Bears have created their own way of losing games.

But we also thought it was progress. The word “progress” has been an important term in regard to the Chicago Bears the past few seasons. Any good progress is worth noting. Any optimism at all is welcomed.

After that game, we Bears fans convinced ourselves that this season could be different. Maybe we could surprise people and potentially finish 7-9?

However, we were brought back down to earth Sunday (we didn’t get too high up, but still) when the Bears reverted back to their familiar, irrelevant, worthless selves again.

Believe me, I’m not saying the Bears are like the Browns. They’re not. But if things don’t change, Chicago fans might have to get used to the decade long streaks of Januarys with no playoff appearances like the ones Cleveland and Buffalo have had to endure.

It hurts because this is one of the oldest and most historic franchises in the NFL. The Bears have been around since 1919 when “Papa Bear” George Halas helped create the league and one of its founding teams, the franchise once dubbed the “Monsters of the Midway.” This franchise has won the second most amount NFL championships of all-time with nine total. This franchise should have the resources not to become one of the biggest laughing stocks in the league. But here we are.

The Bears’ demise started after the 2012 season, when longtime head coach Lovie Smith was fired after a 10-6 season in which the Bears barely missed the playoffs. He was replaced by Marc Trestman, a Canadian Football League coach who was considered an offensive guru. He was brought in as an attempt to help former Bears quarterback and scapegoat Jay Cutler reach his offensive potential.

Cutler did enjoy one of the best seasons of his career production-wise during the 2013 season, but the defense struggled as the Bears finished with an 8-8 record.

The wheels fell off during the 2014 season as the Bears thumped to a 5-11 record and Trestman was handed his walking papers after only two seasons.

He was replaced by John Fox, who had led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl appearance just a year before. We were ecstatic. Fox had won everywhere he coached. This was the guy that was going to bring us back.

After a 6-10 record in the 2015 season, the Bears were expected to show some improvement during the 2016 season. But a season riddled with injuries and poor play ended with a 3-13 final record, the third worst in the entire league.

After a 0-2 start to this season, John Fox now has an overall record of 9-25 as the head coach of the Bears. They’ve somehow managed to get worse under Fox.

What has been really alarming during the Fox era is the hindering of development by young players due to injury. 2015 first round draft pick Kevin White has only played in four career NFL games and was recently put on IR with a broken collarbone. Once considered an important building block of the future, White’s career has been stalled due to recurring health issues. More key players like running back Jordan Howard and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long are currently on IR.

Fox is also coming under fire for refusing to play rookie and future franchise quarterback Mitch Trubisky, instead opting for the more experienced Glennon. The lack of in-game reps could harm Trubisky’s long-term development.

The Bears are looking like one of the worst teams in the league right now. Seeing the Bears at the bottom of the standings is a sight Bears fans might have to get use to for a long time.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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