CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned following the Bears embarrassing 36-7 defeat to the New England Patriots.
1. The Bears need to burn the tape: It was just one of those days when nothing went right. The Bears were whipped on both sides of the football and bombed out before a national audience. But at the end of the day, it's still a loss to an AFC team that means little in the grand scheme of things. What matters for the Bears is beating the Vikings next week, because if that happens, the Bears will at the very least own the tiebreaker over Green Bay in the NFC North. The worst thing would be if this ugly defeat lingers or carries over to the Minnesota game. The Bears, a veteran-laden team, must find a way to move on and forget this ever happened. Maybe the Bears also get blown out by the Jets in two weeks -- highly unlikely -- but if they beat the Vikings and Packers, who cares.
2. We need to stop any and all Bears-Patriots comparisons: The Bears are not the Patriots. They don't draft like New England, they don't coach like New England, they don't play like New England, and they don't win like New England. I have a lot of respect for Lovie Smith and think he's done an excellent job this season, but were people actually trying to put Smith in the same category as Bill Belichick this past week? Are you serious? The Patriots, under Belichick, have 10 straight winning seasons and three Super Bowl rings -- almost four titles if not for a miraculous catch by New York's David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. There isn't a coach in the NFL in the same category as Belichick, or an organization as well run as the Patriots. If there is such a franchise, it's not the Bears, who's last championship came 25 years ago. I'm not hating on Smith -- he never made those Belichick comparisons leading up to the game -- but to say the two men are similar in terms of success is just plain crazy. And just so we're clear -- Belichick is now 5-0 versus Mike Martz since Super Bowl XXXVI.
3. You still can't totally trust Jay Cutler: The Bears got blown out for a variety of reasons, but for the first time since the bye week, their quarterback play was poor. Cutler made a few nice throws during the game. His two interceptions, however, were awful. Please tell me again why Cutler feels the need to throw into triple-coverage? I give Cutler all the credit in the world for leading the Bears on a five-game winning streak. He was on fire the past few games, making great plays with his arm and his feet. But every so often, he goes back in the tank, and performs like he did against New England -- a 32.9 quarterback rating. Maybe Cutler bounces back and lights up the Vikings, Jets and Packers. It very well could happen. But I'd hate to see Cutler play this way in the playoffs. If he does, the Bears have no shot to win, regardless of how the defense performs. But if he plays like he did in previous weeks, the Bears certainly can advance in the NFC.
4. Smith needs to hold the secondary accountable: The worst thing the Bears could do is overreact after this game, but fair is fair, Smith ought to mix a few things up in the secondary moving forward. I think Major Wright has a bright future, but would Chris Harris have been burned on that Tom Brady pump-fake touchdown pass to Deion Branch at the end of the half? Haven't Harris and Danieal Manning done well enough to remain on the field at all times? And what about Charles Tillman? Shouldn't Zack Bowman be inserted back into the mix at cornerback? The Bears really can't do much to jump-start the lines, because let's face it, there aren't many options besides the starters. But the secondary is a different story. The lack of a pass rush didn't help the Bears in coverage, but Branch and Wes Welker were wide open for almost the entire game.
5. Brady is the MVP: Hands down. Brady is the best player in the league. The Patriots looked like they were playing in a dome - not freezing temperatures, snow and wind gusts up to 50 mph -- because the quarterback was completely un phased by the elements. Brady threw the ball like it was 90 degrees in Miami, and torched the Bears defense for 369 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 113.4 quarterback rating. The top player in the game plays for the best team in the game. Very fitting.