Accepting the 'unacceptable'

CHICAGO -- Final score from the lakefront: Brandon Marshall 17, Chicago Bears 14.

After a desultory 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field, Marshall vented to reporters, using the word "unacceptable" 17 times in 3 1/2 minutes.

Repetitive, sure, but there was a lot of ground to cover in a short time.

Scoring 14 points?


Three turnovers.


An 0-3 home record?


Marshall's six catches for 48 yards?


Soldier Field's shoddy turf?

Acceptable to the McCaskey family, I guess.

While Bears fans yelled at their TVs, the Bears were busy yelling at themselves, well aware their season is going down the tubes one home loss at a time.

The postgame home locker room was combustible after the game, with screaming and yelling heard by reporters waiting for entry.

For better or worse, Marshall seemed like the loudest voice in a deflated room.

"We lost, there should be a lot of frustration," an animated Marshall said when the press was let into the locker room. "You should hear frustration! We're 3-4. Yeah, this means everything to a lot of guys in this locker room. This means a lot."

The loquacious receiver hasn't been very available to media this season, but Marshall had plenty to say after this colossal failure, which included another mind-numbing Jay Cutler interception, to go with a Cutler sack-fumble and a Dante Rosario fumble on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions.

The Bears, an unacceptable 3-4 overall, are 0-4 when Cutler throws an interception. In all four losses, they have turned the ball over in consecutive possessions.

Unacceptable is a nice way of putting it.

"Same mistakes, same mistakes, same mistakes," Marshall said. "We've got to protect the football. We got to protect the football. We've got to execute the game plan. We've got to adjust when things don't go as we saw on the film. We got Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte. We got a stud offensive line. We got a great, great group of guys. And this is unacceptable. What did we put up, 14 points? Was it 14 points? That's unacceptable. That's unacceptable."

Marshall is an effective public speaker, so he knew he was being repetitive.

"We're 3-4, we're 3-4," he said. "It's unacceptable, it's unacceptable. Three and four is unacceptable. You want me to say it again? Three and four is unacceptable. It's unacceptable. You don't get a tomorrow in this league. We're halfway through this season. We're halfway through this season. It's time, it's time."

As Bears media relations broke up the interview, Marshall yelled again, "Halfway through this season!"

Halfway to an 8-8 record, indeed. Assuming the Bears can sweep on the road and win one home game, that is.

Don't let anyone tell you the Bears are an enigma. They're just not very good. And not-very-good teams tend to have uneven results. Yeah, they'll probably win at New England next week and then lose to Minnesota in their first home game after the bye. They're definitely losing at Green Bay right after the bye, right?

Maybe they'll reverse the trend and get trounced by the well-rested Patriots. Don't ask the media, because we're as clueless as the rest of you.

We should have known the Bears were due for a beatdown when almost every local reporter who offered a prediction picked the Bears.

After Cutler threw a Bears-career-high 381 yards in a well-balanced game last week in a 27-13 win at Atlanta, the Bears expected that so-called momentum to carry over.

"Yeah, I was expecting to come out, especially it being a home game, to be more consistent on offense," running back Matt Forte said. "It happened again with the turnovers and the penalties and putting our defense in a bad position. Especially at home. If we want to win the game, we've got to win the turnover battle."

The defense had its moments too. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed his first 14 passes of the game, and in the third quarter, he gained 30 yards on a run play on fourth-and-1 to set up a score. The Dolphins scored their first touchdown in the first quarter when linebacker Shea McClellin slipped on his backpedal as Dolphins tight end Charles Clay ran in an easy 13-yard pass for a touchdown.

While McClellin vs. The Turf is a real philosophical conundrum, that was just a harbinger of bad things to come.

The Bears got stellar efforts from defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff, who had 3 1/2 sacks, all in the first half, and Forte, who had 109 total yards, with a rushing and a receiving touchdown. Punter Pat O'Donnell was good too. Other than that, I guess you gotta watch the film.

But this one is not just on the players. The only people calling head coach/playcaller Marc Trestman a genius nowadays are doing it with sarcastic air quotes.

A popular sticking point was Forte having just two carries in the Bears' 18 first-half plays. While he also caught three passes in that span, Forte admitted he was getting antsy as the Bears tried, and failed, to take advantage of certain Miami fronts.

"In the first half, you really want to get like 10 to 12 carries," Forte said. "You know, we didn't sustain any drives. We were doing three-and-outs and putting the defense in bad positions. The defense played well enough for us to win the game and we didn't."

Forte got seven carries and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the Bears' only third-quarter possession, a 12-play, 80-yard drive. There is some kind of disconnect between the coaches and the players. Or maybe the Bears' offense was just overhyped.

Cutler (21-for-34 for 190 yards) is the obvious lightning rod of that unit and this team, and his first-half interception was like raw meat for his critics.

In the second quarter, with the Bears down 7-0, Cutler was targeting Bennett just outside the red zone, after Santonio Holmes ran a go route to clear space, but he overthrew the tight end for an easy pick for safety Reshad Jones, who returned it 50 yards.

"After watching film all week we saw he was looking where he threw the ball," Jones said. "He was always looking at his receivers and never looking off. I tried to take advantage of that and it paid off."

With the way the defense was squeezing the field from the outside, Cutler said Bennett was the go-to guy in that play. The pass was just "a little bit high," Cutler said.

A little high, a little low. Something's often a little off with this team.

Four players later, the Dolphins took a 14-0 lead. When Cutler fumbled on a Cameron Wake sack early in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins kicked a field goal to give them a 24-7 lead.

Opponents have scored 37 points off Cutler turnovers this year, with 34 coming at home. No wonder Bears fans were booing the team off the field.

"If I had a reason, we'd try to change it," Cutler said. "But I don't."

Why are the Bears so bad at home? Holmes, who used to play on patchy grass in Pittsburgh, put it perfectly.

"Sometimes you can't bounce a square ball, man," Holmes said. "You cannot bounce a square ball. It's going to bounce all over the place." Who knows where the Bears land by the end of the season, but I'm guessing it's not in the playoffs.

The question is: Is that result acceptable to the Bears?