Hoge: So Far, Bears Are Regressing In Year 2 Under John Fox

John Fox. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

John Fox. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Remember when the Bears lost to rookie quarterbacks on national television two weeks in a row?

Remember when they were inexplicably put on primetime national television two weeks in row?

Much like the Bears’ back-to-back blowout losses to the Patriots and Packers in 2014, these are the questions fans will be asking themselves a couple years from now when they remember the 2016 season.

“You’re on primetime TV two weekends in a row,” tight end Zach Miller said. “You can’t give up. (You) don’t want to continue to not play well and, for lack of a better word, be embarrassed on national TV.”

Podcast — Intentional Grounding, Episode 51: Bears-Cowboys Postgame Show

Unfortunately, the Bears did enough damage in the first half of their 31-17 loss to the Cowboys to classify Sunday night as an embarrassment. And, amazingly, this isn’t the last time the Bears will play in back-to-back primetime games this season. They play the Packers in primetime in Week 7 and the Vikings in primetime in Week 8.

And no, because those games are on Thursday night and Monday night, respectively, they cannot be flexed.

Sorry, America.

But really, I’m not the one who should be apologizing. Even in rebuilding mode, the Bears owe their fans an apology for how flat they came out in a game they lost in the first quarter. The offense simply looked unprepared and only managed 18 first half plays while Dallas ran off 39. At one point, the Cowboys had 18 first downs, while the Bears only had two, resulting in the defense staying on the field way too long for the third straight week. That reality, coupled with the absences of nose tackle Eddie Goldman and linebacker Danny Trevathan, created a tough situation for a unit that still lacks reliable depth. With key starters out, Vic Fangio’s defense looked much too slow.

But how could Dowell Loggains’ offense look so unprepared? After a full week of practice, there was a disconnect on the very first play as Hoyer held the ball on a play where he said he should have handed it off to running back Jeremy Langford. Yes, the Bears did not have Jay Cutler Sunday night,  but the offensive problems cannot be pinned solely on the absence of their starting quarterback. These problems have persisted for three weeks now (even while Cutler was playing) and Hoyer actually posted a solid 93.7 passer rating Sunday while throwing the ball a ridiculous 49 times. The truth is, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains came out with a horizontal game plan that looked way too similar to what former coordinator Adam Gase deployed in Seattle last year when he didn’t have Cutler on the field. The difference is that Hoyer is much better than Jimmy Clausen and could have handled a more vertical game plan Sunday night. Wide receiver screens on 3rd & 10 in the second half weren’t just predictable, they were uncalled for.

Actually, looking back at last year’s Week 3 loss in Seattle is scary context to consider. For the second straight season under John Fox, the Bears are 0-3, playing one of those games without Cutler. The difference is, last year they played the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks — three good playoff teams. This year, they played three young quarterbacks who had a combined 10 starts in the NFL. The supposed progress from Year 1 to Year 2 is nowhere to be seen.

“Each year it’s a whole new group, it’s all new people. There’s a whole lot of new players,” Fox said.

(Yeah, but those new players are supposed to be better.)

“It’s hard to measure season-to-season,” Fox continued. “We (once) were 0-4 and won 11 of our next 12.”

(This may have happened, but not during his head coaching career.)

“It’s not really where you start. It’s frustrating. I’d rather be 3-0, if you’re asking me, but that’s not reality. So we’ll just strap it up and get ready for next week. ”

Next week, mercifully, the Bears will go back to a Noon kickoff, but the opponent doesn’t get any easier. The Detroit Lions loom at Solider Field, and they’ve won six straight against the Bears, including three in a row in Chicago.

That’s right, the Bears haven’t beat the Lions since Lovie Smith’s final game as head coach in 2012.

Like I said, the fans deserve better.

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.