Lions 24, Bears 13: A Critical Reassessment

DETROIT - OCTOBER 10: Lawrence Jackson #94 of the Detroit Lions sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter of the game at Ford Field on October 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bears 24-13. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Lions gashed Chicago's defense for a pair of long touchdowns en route to a convincing Week 5 victory under Monday night lights.

Because night games end late and bloggers must also hold down 9-5's, we're cutting down some on the usual grandiose game critique this week to instead opt for the favorite crutch of every time-starved writer: numerical lists! Transition words, who needs 'em.

1. I was trading emails with my SB Nation Chicago colleague and Internet best bro Bobby Stompy last week when he asked if "A Critical Reassessment" was the permanent name for this day-after Bears column. I told him yes and cited some Web-savvy buzzwords as my reasoning ("branding!"), when, in reality, it has much more to do with my total inability to write headlines that don't rely solely on alliteration. Personally, I think "A Critical Reassessment" probably sounds better than "Stafford Stymies Shitty Secondary".

When I asked Bobby what he thought of the name, this was the first sentence of his response:

I like it, only because every stupid win and loss is a referendum on the Bears as a team, coaching staff, and organization.

These Bears may be far from the only professional sporting outfit seemingly stuck in a perpetual state of blasé, and this city may have a propensity to exaggerate its own suffering, but STILL. I find that assessment of my reassessments to be virtually dead-on. Of course, this is never more true than after a loss, particularly one as grimy as Monday night's self-sabotaged failure in Detroit. 

No, these aren't your older brother's Lions, that's been reinforced enough already, but that doesn't make undefeated Detroit unbeatable. The Bears had their chances in Week 5, but collapsed as a near whole. I'll include the modifier 'near' because I'm not sure if the quarterback or running back could have done any more, but we'll save that for later. Monday's loss falls on everyone and everything else. Including:

Coaching: Burn every time out before the end of the first quarter? Check. Stupid challenges? Yep. Foolishly passing up an early field goal opportunity when it felt early like points would really be at a premium? You know it.

Offensive line: Nine false starts. 9! It wasn't as bad as last season's prime time affair against the Giants -- you remember, the one when your uncle Todd had to play quarterback the second half -- but it was pretty damn close. Even though they only gave up three sacks, the line was as bad as ever.

Defense: The bend-don't-break defense was shattered into one million unidentifiable pieces by the upstart Lions' quick-strike offense. The Bears preach control in the Cover-2: they'll allow short passes, but no one is supposed to get behind the safeties. Whoops. A 73-yard bomb to Calvin Johnson and 88-yard run by Jahvid Best later, and the Bears were as good as dead.

General Manager: This team is currently sitting on somewhere between $20-30 million in cap space. Don't think we won't harp on this all season long.

If it's true that everything about this team must be re-evaluated after every triumph and failure, these Bears won't like the look of their review after Week 5. I heard more than one call for this team to be "burned to the ground", and that's when they were only down 11 with a quarter to play. No matter: until proven otherwise, there isn't any magic in these Bears. When they don't have it, they may as well be left for dead. Monday night, they didn't have it.

2. It's after games like this one when you wonder if Jay Cutler has ever really even gotten a fair chance in this city. Because of the way football is chambered, the quarterback will forever take too much blame when things are bad and too much credit when things are good. For Cutler, it's been more of the former since arriving in Chicago. But after a gutsy performance against the Lions that saw him get little help from his supporting cast, it's time to put a moratorium on most Cutler criticism until he's fitted with teammates who aren't plagued with such incompetence.

Cutler finished with a passing rating of 99.6 against Detroit, completing over 73 percent of his passes for 249 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions. He did this while getting thrown to the ground as routinely as ever, with Lions defenders whizzing by Bears linemen any time Chicago didn't penalize itself before the play even started.

From the day Cutler arrived here, he was painted as a savior. He was thought to be the final piece of the puzzle. In essence, he was only the first. Three years later and this team still has a ways to go.

3. We'd be remiss if we didn't praise Matt Forte in this space, too. He's been the Bears' best player all season long, and didn't do anything to lose his grip on that status against the Lions. Forte ripped through Detroit's ferocious front four for 116 yards on 22 carries. Don't worry, Bears fans: he'll get paid by this team. Forte isn't going anywhere. It's whether or not the Bears will keep around the rest of these clowns which should be keeping you up.

Ricky O'Donnell is a writer and editor in Chicago and the founder of the Chicago sports blog Tremendous Upside Potential. He is always very much available for hire. Follow him on Twitter or reach him at richardpodonnell@gmail.com.

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