The NFL’s collection of bad teams can always be counted on to find new and exciting ways to mess up. For connoisseurs of crap, every Sunday is an embarrassment of riches. However, not every bad team is created equal.
For the platonic ideal of a terrible football team, look no further than the Cleveland Browns, whose rich tradition of haplessness is unmatched across the world of sports. The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, bring their own unique brand of terrible. They’re 0-6, but have lost five games this season by three points or fewer. Still, the close score lines obscure the determined awfulness of a team that was carefully designed to lose a significant amount of games. Rest assured, the 49ers are still hard to watch.
Those are bad bad teams. The Chicago Bears, on the other hand, are a good bad team.
The Bears aren’t going anywhere, but they’re doing the most decent thing a bad team can do, which is run lots of cool trick plays. Check out this Tarik Cohen touchdown pass from Sunday’s game against the Ravens. (Cohen is a 5-foot-6 running back, in case you were curious as to why this play looks so funny.)
That was fantasic! The Bears did something similar last Monday, when their punter threw for a touchdown against the Vikings.
Fake Punt TD by the Bears pic.twitter.com/FLM5HRQp1Y— Eric Elizondo (@EricElizondo8) October 10, 2017
They’re like the band on the Titanic, except they’ve put their instruments down and are squirting water from flower lapel pins at the passengers scrambling into lifeboats.
The Bears have two very good running backs and a rookie quarterback who has one of the easiest acts to follow in sports. The best-case scenario for the Bears and their first-round draft pick Mitchell Trubisky is that he proves himself to be the second coming of Sid Luckman. The worst-case scenario is that he’s the second coming of pretty much any other Bears quarterback. It’s this kind of low-stakes uncertainty that makes for an erratic and happy-go-lucky team in flux. They make purgatory fun.
On Sunday, Chicago blew a 24-13 lead with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. After letting the Ravens tie it up with a long punt return and two-point conversion, the Bears won anyway, thanks to a field goal in overtime. The result was both richly deserved and wholly inappropriate given their collapse, but they managed to mine excitement from what should have been a dreary affair, and that’s all that matters.
Chicago earned their only other win this season in Week 3 against the Steelers (also in overtime). That game included a demonstration of slapstick stupidity so glorious, we should show it to the aliens if they ever decide to invade our podunk planet.
EVERYONE LET'S LAUGH TOGETHER AT THE CHICAGO BEARS pic.twitter.com/b8ES5ZE7Pw— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 24, 2017
Any team that can manufacture both sublime trick plays and hilariously embarrassing moments like the one above deserves your attention. The Bears have enough decent players on both sides of the ball to prevent games from becoming outright farces, but they are still blessed with moments of incompetence that appear, like the squirt of an automated bathroom air freshener, at intermittent bursts. What’s important is that everything in between is still worth watching, and this is all you can ask for from a team like the Bears.