The Chicago Bears, while lead by Jay Cutler, had become one of the best teams in the NFL. They were considered a top-five team in the entire NFL and a legitimate contender to defeat the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
The Chicago Bears, while lead by Caleb Hanie (and in small part by Josh McCown), are a joke. The Indianapolis Colts would beat the "Chicago Bears" team that has taken the field each of the last four weeks.
The truth is, without Cutler, (and Matt Forte, Johnny Knox, Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, Major Wright and Chris Conte) the Bears are the worst team in the NFL.
I would say that all the injuries combined are what is killing the Bears, but they were still a force to be reckoned with until Cutler went down with an injury that will likely keep him out through the regular season.
When he went down, the Bears looked at the schedule and said, "We can beat the Chiefs, Seahawks and Vikings without Cutler, then once we limp into the playoffs we can surprise everybody and take home the Lombardi Trophy."
Then they got slapped in the face by reality. Keep in mind when I say slapped, I mean punched. Hard. Repeatedly.
It started against the Oakland Raiders. It was a close game, the Bears only lost by five points, Hanie had a few bright moments, and the Raiders are a good team anyway. This game gave hope to Bears fans hoping to limp into the playoffs.
Then it started to get really ugly when the Chiefs came to town. Forte got hurt and the Bears were unable to overcome the astounding 17-for-30 for 157 yard performance by Chiefs backup Tyler Palko. Hanie and the Bears offense were only able to put up three points and were embarrassed by the Chiefs defense.
After an overtime loss to God in a Broncos uniform, the Bears took the field against the surprisingly surging Seahawks who were looking to make their way to .500 on the season while the Bears were looking to avoid falling to that same mark.
Despite a solid first half for Hanie (the word "solid" is being used extremely loosely here), the Seahawks were able to figuratively bend him over a table in the second half. He finished the game 10-for-23 for 111 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He was eventually benched for Josh McCown, who said pre-game that he didn't expect to play unless Hanie got hurt.
McCown's first pass was another interception.
The stark contrast between the Bears pre- and post-Cutler has been remarkable and it really shows how much he means to this team.
Cutler had been throwing the ball better than most quarterback's ever have in a Bears uniform before his injury, and since he was hurt, the Bears offense has completely disappeared. Let's make some comparisons now.
In the four games before Cutler got hurt, the Bears put up 122 points, in the four games since, they have scored 47.
The most points the Bears have scored over the last four games was 20, the last time the Bears had scored fewer than 20 points was in Week 5.
In Cutler's last four games he threw for 843 yards (210.75 per game), five touchdowns and three interceptions (only one of which came in the last three games). Since then, the Bears have gotten 625 yards (156.25 per game), three touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Next week, the Bears take on the 13-1 Green Bay Packers in a game tailor-made to give the citizens of Green Bay a Merry Christmas. Meanwhile, Chicago fans are going to be busy distracting themselves with family and enjoying the return of the Chicago Bulls because, hey, at least we have one team that can still win.
I'm Joe W.