GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Virginia McCaskey sent me a telegram asking for my advice on how to fix the Chicago Bears, this is what I'd write back to her:
Fire everyone you can. Cut the rest. Sell the team.
Sure, that's harsh advice for the proud matriarch of Papa Bear's franchise.
But after another blowout loss for a completely listless squad, it's an idealistic checklist of what the Bears need to do in the next couple of months to right this sinking ship.
Fire coach Marc Trestman and his staff and general manager Phil Emery. Get the new guys to blow up the roster. Convince the McCaskey family to sell the franchise to someone with a couple of billion dollars and a clue.
Or you know, just keep practicing hard and praying for good results. Whatever works.
I don't want to overreact in the wake of a nationally televised 55-14 debacle to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, but what else is there to say about a team that is not just bad, but awful in every phase of the game?
Fans hate watching this team, and it's the second week of November.
"I can understand that," Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said of the fans' likely collective anger and natural calls for change. "That's one of the tough parts. I love Chicago so much; I want to end my career here. But when you lose, that's the nature of the business. It's just the nature of the business.
"Before the season, it seemed like we had everyone we needed. And 3-6 is the reality of it, and we're not very good."
Not very good is an understatement.
In their past two first halves, the Bears have been outscored 80-7.
Eighty to seven. That's not a typo.
Two weeks ago, the New England Patriots took a 38-7 lead into the locker room en route to a 51-23 shellacking. After a blissful bye week for Bears fans, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers led 42-0 after two quarters, which tied the 1983 Packers for the second-biggest halftime edge in NFL history.
No team had given up 50 points in back-to-back games since the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons were walloped by the Chicago Cardinals and Rock Island Independents en route to an 0-4 season. At least Rochester fans had to suffer through only four games before going out to practice their Charleston.
Self-flagellating Bears fans have seven more games to go, three of which will be broadcast across the country.
If there is one guy who has experience losing football games, it's Jay Cutler. So I asked him if he's ever experienced anything like this nonsense.
"I can't remember," Cutler said. "Or maybe I just don't want to remember."
Marshall summarized the state of the Bears even more succinctly.
"I'm confused, brother," he said.
Us, too. Where is this well-oiled Trestman offense? Where is this improved defense?
"We have good players," Bears defensive end Jared Allen said. "We obviously aren't a good team. When you get a beatdown like this, you can't say much else."
"Before the bye it was one of those things where it was shocking," Marshall said. "Then you look at this game and the reality of it is, this is the team we have and we have to accept it. We're just not very good right now."
The Bears are 3-6, and after watching this game, one wonders how they won three. With playoff-caliber talent, especially on offense, they are arguably one of the worst teams in the NFL. That's what should be a call for change. The Bears have lost with bad teams before, but losing like this with a decent team is shameful.
Rodgers' six touchdown passes in Sunday's first half tied an NFL record, and all of his 315 passing yards came in the first two quarters.
In consecutive first-half drives, the Bears blew their coverage on Jordy Nelson, and the receiver caught wide-open touchdown passes for 73 and 40 yards. In the next series, running back Eddie Lacy took a short pass for a 56-yard touchdown.
"There was confusion all night," Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. He should know, he was right in the middle of it, passing Nelson off to no one.
Green Bay scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and then, just for the hell of it, scored another on its seventh.
"Well, the saying goes, it rains, it pours," Bears safety Ryan Mundy said. "So we need to figure out a way to make it stop raining."
The Bears seemingly have no concept of playing within their defensive concept, whatever that is, and have little discipline in any phase of the game. On Sunday, they committed 11 penalties for 163 yards, the third-most penalty yards in team history and the most since 1951.
The defense is atrocious -- worse than we envisioned -- and the offense can't produce on its own.
Cutler earned his national punching-bag status early when he threw a pick on the Bears' second drive of the game. Four plays later, Packers tight end Andrew Quarless reeled in a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0. Cutler later lost a fumble and his second interception glanced off lineman Kyle Long's helmet into Casey Hayward's hands for an 82-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter. By then, the game had been over for hours, so it was more of a ceremonial bow to the Lambeau faithful.
If you're keeping count, Cutler has now thrown three touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in four games here. He should get his jersey retired sometime after Brett Favre.
For the season, Cutler has 10 interceptions and five lost fumbles. The Bears are still winless when he commits a turnover.
For all the talk about Matt Forte running roughshod over the NFL's worst rushing defense, he wound up with 17 carries for 54 yards. Of course, once a team is down three scores, it's tough to commit to the run. In the Bears' first three drives, they ran 14 plays for 50 yards. Forte had four carries for six yards.
So, to summarize, the Bears' offense can't put together drives or score points. The defense can't stop anyone. The special teams stink. The team commits stupid penalties.
So what are they doing well?
Practicing, apparently. Trestman, Cutler and several other players spoke about what a great week of practice they had after the bye week.
"Based on what I saw this week, I was confounded to see the type of play we had tonight," Trestman said. "Our coaches did a tremendous job getting our guys ready this week, and our guys did a tremendous job preparing, and none of it transferred to the game tonight."
Here's an idea. Maybe they could televise those practices instead of the games. Because I can't imagine any Bears fan wants to watch any more of this garbage.
In all seriousness, I'm loath to ever seriously ask for someone to be fired or cut. But I can't see much of an argument why Emery and Trestman hold the solutions to this team's many, many problems.
I was all for re-signing Cutler last season, because the team had mortgaged its present to build an offense around him. And thanks to his "elite extension," Cutler is a Bear for another two years. But he's looking more and more like a sunk cost. Cutler is essentially a good arm attached to a mediocre quarterback.
All the Bears' problems boil down to this: The people who run this organization aren't very good at running a football team.
When you have a former accountant acting as team president and a former ticket executive running the family business, who's to say they would hire the right people anyway?
One thing is for sure, the status quo at Halas Hall is not working and the ritualistic sacrifice of coordinators and assistant coaches might not be the answer this time.
Imagine the reaction if Chicago loses that game. We might not be talking theoretical changes.