EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In stark contrast to last week’s debacle in Tampa, the Chicago Bears arrived at MetLife Stadium prepared, focused and ready to go.
For one half of football, it was the Bears (2-8) who looked like the team with legitimate playoff aspirations, not the New York Giants -- who appear to have built their 7-3 record with smoke and mirrors.
But these are the Bears we’re talking about.
If history taught us anything, it’s that the Bears under John Fox (8-18 in Chicago) rarely put together four consistent quarters.
Sunday’s demise can be traced back to a pair of early blunders, when Adrian Amos dropped a sure interception and Mike Adams committed a bad holding penalty -- plays that eventually cost the Bears points in their 22-16 defeat.
Throw in key injuries to Zach Miller (foot), Josh Sitton (ankle), Cre’Von LeBlanc (concussion) and Leonard Floyd (placed on a board and carted off the field), and you see why the level of play dropped off after halftime.
Still, the Bears showed up. They even had a chance to win the game late -- a more competent team beats New York, but again, these are the Bears.
But hanging on until the end is a minor moral victory after a week when Alshon Jeffery received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances and Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long (ankle) landed on injured reserve -- coming on the heels of Week 10’s 36-10 ugly loss to the Bucs, no less.
Get used to it.
The final six weeks will be all about finding tiny positives to take into the offseason. The banged-up Bears will continue to play hard -- at least they better -- but all these injuries will make victories tough to come by.
The worst thing to do is predict games for inconsistent teams. But it’s pretty safe to say the Bears will be lucky to finish 2016 with four or five wins, tops.
The Bears have to use the final month and a half to their advantage. Play the healthy veterans good enough to start -- and there are several that fall into that category. It’s also an appropriate time to experiment with certain younger guys who may or may not currently be part of the plan in 2017 -- just as long as overall effort is not compromised.
There is too much time left to throw in the towel. The Bears can’t tap out, but they can still plan for the future.