Of all the embarrassing losses for the Chicago Bears in the John Fox era, you would have to look hard to find any that ranks as high as Sunday’s letdown against a Brett Hundley-led Green Bay Packers team.
Everything was working in the Bears’ favor. They were coming off a bye week with an extra seven days to prepare for the game, while the Packers was on a short week after getting sandblasted by the Detroit Lions in a Monday night game. Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, along with safety Morgan Burnett, were both injury scratches. But most importantly, Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback that made a living off torching the Bears, was sidelined with a broken collarbone.
It was as if fate had gift-wrapped the division game with a bow on top and personally handed it to the Bears. A more disciplined head coach would have gladly accepted the gift, and the Bears would probably be 4-5 right now, sitting at third place in the NFC North. Instead, Fox has the team staring into the emptiness of a 3-6 record in another disappointing season.
The Bears played undisciplined football from start to finish. There were ticky-tack penalties, odd play-calling and a complete lack of situational awareness by the coaching staff. We might soon look back at Fox’s decision to throw out the red flag and challenge Benny Cunningham’s touchdown run in the second quarter as the first nail in the proverbial coffin.
Cunningham, who was ruled out of bounds, tiptoed his way toward the end zone before diving for the pie line with the ball outstretched. It was obvious Cunningham never had complete control of the ball as he reaches across the line. If the ball comes loose at that point, the rulebook states the play should be deemed a touchback.
The referees would have never even looked at the goal-line fumble if Fox hadn’t challenged the play. After the game, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he had no intentions of challenging the ruling on the field. He figured it was a lost cause as the visiting team.
“No,” McCarthy said, per Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs. “It’s hard when you’re the visitor because they don’t give you much in the way of replays on the board. Like the catch with (Josh) Bellamy earlier. Did he catch it? We didn’t get enough replays.”
The only ones lost on the field seemed to be the Bears coaching staff, as the play was overturned and ruled a touchback. Fox won the challenge and helped the Packers get the ball back in the process.
The Fox era in Chicago is hurtling toward a fiery conclusion.
This is a Bears team that has only won 12 games in the three years that Fox has been in Chicago. The Bears would have been better off keeping Lovie Smith if this is what the future looks like. Even Marc Trestman managed to coach the team to eight wins.
While Sunday’s game isn’t grounds for immediate termination, there is no doubt a serious conversation being had behind closed doors at the Bears’ front office.
Months after drafting a new quarterback, the team could be on the brink of firing and hiring a new head coach.