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Wednesday, August 17

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« The Man From Rip City Bears Down »

Bears Thu Dec 22 2011

Too Late For Bears to Hit the Reset Button

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWhen Caleb Hanie took over for an injured Jay Cutler in the NFC championship game last season and was leading the Bears on a late fourth quarter drive to tie the game, it was like something out of a movie. Here's this young QB, from nowhere, rallying his team and marching them down the field for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. It would have been too astounding.

Fast forward 11 months. With the report that the legendary Josh McCown will start instead of the struggling Hanie on Sunday in Green Bay, the Bears' season is -- barring a miracle -- over. One loss will finish them for good; a road game against the 13-1 Packers while starting a quarterback who has only thrown eight passes since 2007 is a big mountain to climb.

If this season was being played out by me in Madden 12, I would have either reset the game, or cheated by turning the injuries off and altering game sliders. (Change Roy Williams speed and catch rating to 99? Yes sir!) And if I would have played it out legit, I probably would have broken a controller in a fit of rage ("How did Janikowski make 6 field goals?!?!?!?!") and screamed my lungs out at the TV.

It's been a tough year for the Bears. What made it so bad is that the team really looked fantastic during the middle of the season.

Even though Chicago throttled Atlanta on opening day, they still started off 2-3 and had trouble beating a Panthers team in Week 4 -- a game where Cam Newton threw for 374 yards -- in Chicago! The low point was losing in Detroit on Monday Night Football. Long touchdowns for Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best fired up the home crowd and put the Bears away.

But then things started to change. Chicago rolled off five straight victories and looked like one of the top five teams in football. In that span, Devin Hester returned two kicks for touchdowns, and the Bears defense intercepted 11 passes.

Then Cutler got injured.

Hanie took over at quarterback, and even though the Bears lost against Oakland, it looked like the team might survive.

And then Matt Forte got injured.

The Bears lost that game at home against the Chiefs, and lost two more. Now here they are, 7-7, with their playoff hopes diminished.

Other than terrible luck, some really shoddy blocking (42 sacks allowed, fifth-most in the NFL) has done Chicago in. The team also was sub-par in passing (189.4 yards per game, 25th in the league) defending the pass (254.4 yards per game, 27th).

It could have been a special season. Without the key injuries, who knows what happens?

McCown will take the snaps under center on Christmas Day. It's still possible Urlacher, Peppers and the defense will solve the mighty Packers offense, while McCown reads the defense, threads the needles and leads the Bears to a victory. He could even repeat the performance in Week 17, and hope the Falcons and Lions falter.

If that happens, it would truly be a Hollywood ending.

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