Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 22: Trent Cole #58 of the Philadelphia Eagles sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
There are many narratives that have been spun about the Chicago Bears, and while some are mostly true and some are patently false, one story that the team can’t seem to avoid telling over and over again is that of their frequent slow starts to games.
Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles was no exception to this rule, as the Bears enthusiastically took the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss and promptly went three-and-out on offense. Emboldened by the utter failure of their opponents, the Eagles marched right down the field and scored on their first possession, but that was only the beginning of the nightmare for the Bears.
On what was going to be their second possession, Devin Hester brought the ball up the field on the kickoff, but Bradley Fletcher punched the ball loose and the Eagles recovered it in Bears territory. Once again, the Eagles pushed the ball down the field quickly and scored, taking a 14-0 lead just halfway through the first quarter.
After one more awful drive, the Bears’ offense once again watched as the Eagles showed them how it was supposed to be done. Using a 4th-and-1 conversion by LeSean McCoy as a springboard, Philadelphia got its third touchdown in three possessions as Brent Celek caught a ball wide open downfield and waltzed into the end zone untouched for the score.
Going into an early 21-0 hole is never the recipe for winning football, but against a potent offense like the Eagles, it is an especially unforgiveable sin. With a chance to wrap up the NFC North on Sunday night, the Bears came out of the locker room like they had broken into the championship champagne bottles early, and their sloppy play in all phases of the game looked especially grotesque against a team that allegedly had nothing to play for, as the Eagles couldn’t win or lose the NFC East championship regardless of how the game against the Bears turned out.
The Bears’ slow starts this season have largely been cancelled out by their strong finishes to games, but giving up 21 points in the first quarter of a game has a pesky habit of taking the wind out of the sails of the entire team, and that’s exactly what happened in this one. The Bears’ opening drives were a mix of missed blocks, poor route running, and silly play design, and the Eagles made them pay for all of those mistakes in a big way.
If the Bears are going to come out against the Green Bay Packers in Week 17 and put up a better showing than they did on Sunday night, then they have got to get off to a much better start than they did in this one. If they aren’t able to, then the buckets full of bubbly are going to be wheeled over to the visitor’s locker room, and the Bears will be left to ponder just how they allowed a golden opportunity to get the Marc Trestman era started out with a playoff appearance slip through their fingertips.