The 2013 Chicago Bears are a bittersweet and frustrating riddle. The games have been consistently exciting, but for right and wrong reasons. Marc Trestman looks like coach-of-the-year one week, and than loses the next with many questionable calls. This has been a confusing 2013 Bears experience so far, and Trestman is just the beginning.
This season was supposed to be about figuring out what to do with Cutler and his expiring contract. It was about seeing what Marc Trestman could do with a real NFL offense, and if the defense would be able to hold its own as it begins a rough transitional period.
While Trestman has already shown enough promise for Bears fans to feel optimistic about the future, there are plenty of issues for the rookie head coach to work on.
The quarterback position is nowhere closer to being solved. Josh McCown has played admirably, but is not the answer moving forward, and Cutler's injuries have not given him the opportunity to prove he can consistently make better decisions, which a long-term contract should require.
The defense is, well... rather horrible, but how can it be truly evaluated with the complete decimation it has suffered?
The same can be wondered about defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Although he has earned his fair share in the blame for the inconsistency of the defense, what would he have been able to do with a full season from Henry Melton, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and others? Additionally, the Bears defense has been declining for years, and Tucker cannot be blamed for the organization's lack of preparing for this situation.
So, there is no clear-cut answer in what to do with either Cutler or the defense as a whole; the main two issues facing the Bears in the upcoming off-season.
Worst of all, the Bears still have a winning record. If the team were just horrible, a few games under .500 at this point, it would be easy to sit back and watch the rest of the season knowing wins did not really matter. You could simply enjoy the games, regardless of the outcome, and the worst-case scenario would be a high draft pick next season.
In a way, the Bears ability to win games has almost become frustrating. The team has a better chance of winning the division than a wild card spot, and the Lions now have a huge advantage over the Bears in that category. Even if the Bears were to win the division, with the injuries surmounting and the Trestman-Cutler-McCown rollercoaster rocking, envisioning a playoff birth that does not feel doomed from the start is a difficult feat to accomplish at this point.
Anything can happen. The Bears offense finding a way to end the season strong and carry this team to a playoff win would not be the most surprising occurrence in the NFL this season, but it is like a long-shot. Without any success in the playoffs, or without even making them, having a decent record at the end of the season means very little.
As a dedicated Bears fan, I cannot help but to continue to root for my team with vigor, but I cannot ignore the part of my brain pointing out the futility of the situation. At 5-4, the team is a borderline playoff-contender with a grim outlook. Purgatory sucks.
The Bears face the equally mediocre Baltimore Ravens today. What does it mean? No matter the outcome, I have no idea.