Bernstein: Bears Put Us Out Of Our Misery

The Bears' 8-8 season wasn't a losing campaign -- but it was a lost one.

Dan Bernstein
December 29, 2019 - 4:08 pm

(670 The Score) You wanted a real Bears exhibition game? You got one, eventually.

And if we can still remember the summer clamor over preseason snaps for material players, it was amid the fervor of Super Bowl possibility for a regime on full upswing. The executive of the year had the coach of the year, who had eight Pro Bowl participants and what was widely regarded as a special defense primed to wreak havoc across the league, if only they could stabilize that kicking situation.

So it might feel cruel that Eddy Pineiro drilled four field goals Sunday, including the 22-yarder in the waning seconds that was the difference in the Bears' 21-19 victory over the Vikings' backups and third-stringers in Minneapolis. That's all for this deflated party balloon that is the 2019 season, a merciful end that evened the Bears' record at 8-8. It's a number on paper that lies to us, mocking the old NFL saw that groans that you are what your record says you are. We all know deep down that this one was worse.

Related: Haugh: Bears' offseason focus must start with QB

The way it got here was too marred by glaring regressions, both of individual players and the performance of any number of groups of them. Bears coach Matt Nagy will have one season to prove that he's smart enough to keep doing this here, tasked with rebuilding an offense so painfully ineffective that it was held with out a first-half touchdown in 11 of 16 games. The quarterback is most of the problem even if he isn't all of it, and now there can be no hiding from a significant body of work that informs how the process of moving on from Mitchell Trubisky must begin, and on what timetable. There must be other options involved, starting right now.

Nagy and general manger Ryan Pace are set to speak to reporters Tuesday, still relatively secure enough in their respective positions to own the failure of 2019 and explain how they plan to return the sense of promise from which we seem so far removed. The Bears can be good in 2020, but only if those making the difficult decisions avoid the temptation of seeing only what might be any positives. The Bears needed a late-season run of lesser opponents to slap some concealing paint on a crumbled campaign, with even some of those wins less than impressive by their own admission, filled still with signature struggles. The same was just true of this last and least victory, requiring some late fourth-and-9 heroics to eke one out over Sean Mannion and the Mannionettes.

Now the Bears have to figure out how this was left to happen and keep anything like it from recurring. Because make no mistake -- it cannot. They can't be one of the NFL's lowest-scoring teams, feeding at the bottom in points and yards per play and yards per passing attempt and any other statistic that confirms what we've seen all year.

They earned this, every last bit of it. A shell of a football game out of the way early in the day, played by nobody we knew and described haphazardly by a network D-team tasked with going through the motions of the motions. I guess I should say we earned it, those of us still watching a Bears game instead of doing something productive with our obviously wretched lives.

It's all over at 8-8, not a losing season but a lost one.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.