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Chart Party: The Bears got on a plane, punted 10 times and went home

During Sunday's shutout loss to the Seahawks, the Bears had 10 possessions and they ended every single one with a punt. Let's chart it.

I charted up some horrible college punts just a couple weeks ago, but I think the Bears outdid them all Sunday afternoon.

As the star of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel might have been the chillest host in the history of television. He drifted through every episode as though you just woke him up from a nap and invited him to the zoo: sleepy, happy and maybe completely ambivalent.

I can only remember one moment that made Joel completely snap out of character. Manos: The Hands of Fate was probably the worst movie they they ever watched. Most scenes are agonizingly drawn out, and full of absolutely nothing happening. Simple dialogue scenes are peppered with 15-second meaningless, wordless pauses. The toll slowly builds on Joel and his robot buddies.

Finally, they get to this scene in which "The Master" and Torgo kinda just ... stand around. It's like the movie is a carnival ride that's locked up. For a full half-minute. They're not doing a damn thing.

Joel, for perhaps the only time in his life, loses his shit.

Sunday, the Bears' offense was Torgo. They didn't do anything, and they didn't attempt any illusion of doing anything. They just kind of hung out, and punted away the ball whenever it seemed like it was the polite thing to do. On the road, against a fearsome defense, and with a subpar backup quarterback, the deck was certainly stacked against the Bears, who responded with some of the most gutless play calling of the 21st century.

This is the result of every Bears possession.


Those percentages reflect the Bears' overall success rate at picking up the relevant number of yards. For example, I gave them a 66 percent shot on that fourth-and-one because during this game, they had picked up at least one yard on 66 percent of their plays from scrimmage.

Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. Ten punts. That is all they did, and then they lost 26-0. And then they went the hell home.

It should be noted that individually, the Bears' offensive playmakers certainly could have been worse. Jimmy Clausen had weak numbers, but he never turned the ball over, and he hit more than half his targets. Matt Forte finished just short of four yards per carry -- that is not good, but we've all seen worse.

The coaching staff just didn't have any faith in its players to do anything, apparently. They punted when the game was close, they punted when they fell behind and they punted when the game was a foregone conclusion and they had nothing to play for but pride. This is where timid intersects with poor judgment, because on several of these occasions, they were punting with the math against them.


Aesthetically, all punts are bad. but I'll acknowledge that five of those were absolutely the right call. One of them -- that fourth-and-four job near the end of the first quarter -- is sort of a borderline case as far as I'm concerned. The other five punts absolutely should not have happened, though.

Getting shut out is a humiliation that matters to NFL teams. Why the shit are you punting on fourth and five in your opponent's territory in a close game? What the hell is up with two punts, on fourth and short, in the fourth quarter of a game that's pretty much been decided?

That eighth punt, though. The fourth-and-one around midfield. The down that the Bears had a spectacular 66 percent chance of converting, had they tried. They were offered a chance to preserve some of their pride, said, "nah" and continued to make the worst kind of history.



The case for going for it on 4th down in the NFL