Sometimes it seems as if the Chicago Bears are doing everything in their power to get Marc Trestman fired. Another appalling performance from Jay Cutler, opposed to Drew Brees having his best game of the season, led to a very important, 31-15 win for the New Orleans Saints.
Brees completed 29-of-36 passes for 375 yards with three touchdowns. He didn’t find Jimmy Graham in the end zone, and this season has proved that severing the connecting between quarterback and tight end significantly affects the Saints, but the Bears defense isn’t the type that make miracles happen. Graham led his team in receptions and yards while Marques Colston with a touchdown and Josh Hill with a couple caught Brees’ passes.
Mark Ingram with 59 yards on 17 carries scored a touchdown of his own, with the Saints taking a 24-0 lead by the end of the third quarter before the Bears, falling to 5-9, including 2-5 when playing at home, scored their usual slew of garbage time points. This didn’t end up as the blowout the Packers and Patriots handed the Bears but it felt very similar – getting crushed early and getting some points late. Brees, Rodgers and Brady combine for 94-of-117 for 1269 yards, 18 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in those three games.
Jay Cutler hasn’t learned anything from playing against those better than him. At this point, the Bears are no longer trying to avoid putting him in bad situations. Cutler is slinging and getting intercepted. This time, he threw three of them, all on passes when targeting players more than 10 yards downfield. He had more interceptions than completions for that distance, averaging only 5.9 yards per attempt. Brees completed 8-of-11 passes going deep, averaging 15.2 yards per play.
The Bears’ infamous defense did force one turnover themselves, stopping Nick Toon, but the general feeling is of an entire stadium knowing his team is bad and waiting for the opportunity to boo them the moment they slip up. Cutler finished with 194 yards, completing 17-of-31 attempts. He did find Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson for touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but once again cast a huge doubt on his future as the Bears franchise quarterback.
And when that comes into doubt, the people who gave him a huge contract take center stage. Maybe it is just a matter of confidence and offensive line fixes, but the way the Bears have crumbled through this season makes it impossible to ignore: The head coaching, the offensive thinking and Jay Cutler’s performances themselves have been well below expectations, casting a huge shadow over the direction of this franchise and its key personnel.
For the Saints in this weird NFC South season, being 6-8 is almost like winning the jackpot, leading both the Panthers and the Falcons in the race to win the division everyone loves dissing. Even if they are under .500, the feeling over there is not of failure but of missed opportunities and late-game mistakes that have put them in this spot. The Bears don’t have the luxury of being optimistic about anything, too easily beaten by almost anyone this season, often happening to them in front of their own fans.