Hope sprung eternal during the first half of the season. The Chicago Bears were flying high, beneficiaries of a 7-1 record, one of the best defenses in the game, and an offense that seemed to be doing just enough to win games.
Brandon Marshall was seemingly the catalyst the Bears needed, scoring touchdowns, racking up yards and forcing double coverage. Jay Cutler had his man. But somehow, something wasn't quite right. The Bears were winning, but just holding on. The defense was keeping them in games, but only just.
And then...poof. Everything fell apart.
The Bears, seemingly locks for the playoffs six games ago, are now on the verge of a second straight epic season-ending collapse. They have lost five of their last six, and even if they win the last two games against much worse opponents, they are no longer in control of their own destiny.
Bears fans like myself have been asking, "Why? What keeps getting in their way?" And while they have had a more difficult schedule in the second half, I contend that all this organization needs to do is look in a mirror to see where the real problem lies.
This team, if you could call it that, is a disaster of epic proportions. Its offense is an inept cluster of bodies running in random directions hoping for the best. Its defense is a group of old, battle-hardened veterans who are trying, but just don't have the legs to do it anymore. Its quarterback is, while talented, someone who can't take responsibility for his own poor play and the coaching staff is one of the more clueless mistakes in the history of football.
Mike Tice might not have an offensive line to work with, but his play calling is, well, offensive. Rod Marinelli is trying to continue to get a tired defense up for every game, but he can't anymore. And Lovie Smith looks like he doesn't care, doesn't understand, and flat out doesn't know how to coach to win.
Through all of this, we try to root for them. We want to like them. We want to cheer them on. But every year, it keeps getting harder and harder.
Let's face it, 1986 was a long time ago. And besides one or two years since then, the Monsters of the Midway have been anything but. They've been kittens. Has-beens. The Chicago Cubs.
The overhaul needs to start at the top, to be sure. "But Kevin," you may be thinking, "we've already had coaching changes. We just need an offensive line. Or a good quarterback. Or more receivers." To that, I say, I'm not talking about a change in coaching (although that would happen shortly after). I'm talking about something much bigger than that.
The Chicago Bears need a complete change in ownership.
The McCaskeys are some of the worst owners in sports history. They have taken a once proud franchise that was a flagship of the National Football League and and turned it into a graveyard where the fans come to weep, the opponents come to party and quarterbacks come to die.
I'm not the only one who has said this. Heck, I'm not even the first on Bleacher Report to say it. It was said two years ago by Galvin Kilroe. But it's true. This ownership is completely responsible for the bad coaches, the puke-worthy offense, and through it all they continue to pocket some of the largest profits in the league because they have a fan base that, for the most part, doesn't know any better.
Yes, Virginia McCaskey is related to one of the greatest Bears of all time, George Halas. In fact, it is widely believed that Halas is the father of professional football. But the relationship is by blood only. The McCaskey family has as much in common with good football as Justin Bieber does with good music (no offense, Bieber fans, but that guy sucks).
Bad coaches, no offense to speak of, a tired defense who is falling apart at the seams and an ownership that does not care. Unfortunately, so long as they live, the ownership won't change. And so, here is my Christmas wish.
Please, help someone buy this franchise from these ogres that control our professional football fates. Please guide us from the shadow of the valley of death that is the McCaskey family. Santa, I don't want that raise at work, that new Mercedes or even that big screen television. I just want a relevant Bears team again. I just want to be happy one year out of ten for being a Bears fan. I just want a quarterback that can pass it, a couple of receivers to catch it, and a coaching staff with some fire behind them. Santa, I want a chance to beat the Green Bay Packers again. I want to look forward to Sundays again.
Santa Claus, please replace my Chicago Bears with a team and an owner that actually wants to win.