Lincicome: It's official. The Bears no longer matter this season

  • Bears acting head coach Chris Tabor directs his team Sunday during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field.

    Bears acting head coach Chris Tabor directs his team Sunday during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. Associated Press

 
Updated 11/1/2021 8:38 AM

Now roughly half way to whatever the Bears are trying to be, conclusions can be drawn.

The Bears are afterthoughts. Poster art for insignificance. Milk carton material. They are the worst thing a team with ambition can be. The Bears are a local story. Losers are always a local story.

 

The fascination with Justin Fields is fading, another swallowed sigh of what might have been. The coach's future is not worth bothering about. There will another one. There is always another one. And not the temporary one who hopped around as if it helped on Sunday.

The Bears no longer matter, not to the NFL, not to consumers, not to clients, not to comics, not to opponents, maybe to bettors who will find a wager in the debris, but the season will move along without the Bears.

The Bears now have all the appeal of an oil change, of watching a dryer in a laundromat, of sorting the junk from the mail. Something to do, but so what?

Life remains dismal in the lower middle, or is it the middle lower? Wherever it is, the Bears find themselves there as snug as a pit in a prune.

Next up is Monday Night -- not the event it once was, but then neither are the Bears. Hints and clues of possible intrigue might be found in the 49er game, a halftime lead, four consecutive scoring drives, a gutsy defense on occasion but not when it really counted.

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These are the things witnessed against the 49ers, a team no better than the Bears, a team in roughly the same bag of odd socks. Out of this we get a lesson in basic arithmetic.

"It was a game of two halves," said Chris Tabor, who was asked to come on down by COVID restricted Matt Nagy.

With a stranger wearing the headset on the sidelines and someone up in the press box calling the plays, let us not imagine that Nagy is unnecessary. We have known that for some time.

Just when it seems the Bears might becoming reacquainted with respectability, they deny it. They are not measurably closer to progress than when tomorrow was turned over to the kid quarterback who wasn't, and isn't, ready for it.

A moment of encouragement, a clue of what is possible, another maddening if insufficient hint of how it could be, came on Fields' zigzag romp into the end zone of fourth down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Such times, with Fields off the leash, only make the usual cautious plodding of the Bears offense all the more woeful. What must be remembered is that any quarterback who runs for 103 yards one day, will be walking off the field with assistance another.

This is where the Bears are and what the Bears will have to accept, small encouragements, never fooling anyone or even themselves that it is good enough or that next week in Pittsburgh will not be more stumble and blush.

Ah, but this is only a local concern now, of no great interest beyond a few collar counties and some point spreads, whether the Bears are good, bad or running up a down escalator.

For folks outside the reach of a noted bay area and the shores of one of the greater lakes, Sunday's game had to be like stopping at someone else's family reunion just for the potato salad.

Being ignored means that what needs doing will not have the semi-national curiosity of a Monday Night to inspire or mortify, so that the Bears can just look at themselves in the mirror as they say they must.

The Bears can only be measured against the general mediocrity of teams that are not the Rams, the Bucs or the Packers -- already winners over the Bears -- and be encouraged that Detroit is still out there, waiting for its next humiliation, possibly the New York Giants, and Minnesota once. That brings the Bears in at 6-11 for the season, realistic and, honestly, better than expected.

Outside the misplaced anointing of Fields -- still a curiosity -- and the recognized credentials of Khalil Mack and the underused Allen Robinson (has anyone introduced Robinson to Fields?), the Bears are a collection of used parts and unproven second thoughts.

It is a team making do and doing what it can do, if not what it says it should do, solidly and statistically unremarkable. Nothing new here.

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