The Chicago Bears suffered another disappointing loss, this time falling 31-26 to the Detroit Lions in Week 11. Now 3-8 on the season, they became the first NFL team since 1932 to finish a game both plus-3 in the turnover margin and to have the ball for 40-plus minutes and lose, per Marc Silverman of ESPN 1000 and Doug Colletti.
Teams were 48-0 in those situations before Sunday.
After the game, former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett lit into the organization, focusing his ire on ownership in a multi-post rant on X.
“Bears ownership lacks futurism,” posted Bennett who played for the Bears for three seasons from 2013 through 2015. “The entire business model is built on selling the past. The 85 bears. They’re always trying to recreate that old product instead of buying into and producing a new product.”
Martellus Bennett: Bears ‘Trying to Recreate Old Product’
Speaking From Experience With Bears Ownership
Bennett was a member of one of the more disastrous regimes in recent Bears history. That team, helmed by long-time NFL assistant and championship-winning CFL coach Marc Trestman, won eight games in 2013 before a five-win season saw the head coach fired.
Next was John Fox who lasted one more season than his predecessor.
Neither head coach led the team to the postseason with the last two head coaches to get them there – Lovie Smith and Matt Nagy – sandwiching the respective tenures of both.
“The owners are ok with losing a game but not the brand built on the past,” posted Bennett, who ultimately finished his career playing for the division rival Green Bay Packers. “The bears need an entire rebrand. Top to bottom and they need ownership that is going to transition the organization into the future.”
According to ESPN Analytics, the Bears had a 98.2% chance to win when they led 26-14 with 4:15 remaining.
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 19, 2023
Bennett called out the organization for failing to stand behind their players publicly, though he did not provide any specific instances. He did go on to describe ownership as out of touch with the modern fan, saying that they would rather appeal to the “legacy audience”.
He accused them of being “afraid of change” calling “nostalgia” their “greatest marketing tool”.
It’s not just in their approach to marketing to fans, either. The Bears have often relied on outdated methodology or sources in making their hires too.
Even this latest round came with heavy influence from former Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian. He oversaw 10 double-digit-win seasons and playoff appearances in his 13 years as general manager of the Colts. Polian was ousted in 2012 following a 2-14 campaign in the aftermath of Peyton Manning’s defection to the Denver Broncos the season prior.
“The question is who are the bears of tomorrow? We’re always pitched the bears of yesterday,” Bennett continued. “What are the plans of the future? The lack of creativity is astonishing. Yesterday ain’t winning today.”
The Colts hired general manager Ryan Grigson to be their next general manager that offseason.
He promptly drafted Andrew Luck who went on to earn four Pro Bowl selections before his surprise retirement in 2018 when he won Comeback Player of the Year.
As the Bears find themselves barreling toward a similar situation — losing season, top pick(s) in the draft — it’s easy to see the parallels. But Fields’ performance on Sunday — 69.5% completion, 273 total yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions — was full of far more good than bad. Head coach Matt Eberflus brushed off the late-game strip sack that sealed the loss as the quarterback trying to make a play.
Martellus Bennett Delivers Final Reality Check to Bears Ownership
Sunday marked the return of quarterback Justin Fields under center. On the very first drive, Fields looked as in command as ever. Ditto for his being in sync with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. But it took several weeks into this season for them to find that groove. And, even on Sunday, there were far too many series that looked like the team we saw to start the season.
“Doing what’s best for your players is what’s best for your franchise,” wrote Bennett. “Get creative and help them do what they do best. Coaches always want players to adapt but never want to adapt their schemes for their players.”
Again, that happened on Sunday.
Bears QB Justin Fields: “I’m gonna be real with y’all, we should’ve won the game. It just comes down to finishing and executing at the end of the game.” pic.twitter.com/aA1yZVbFA1
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) November 19, 2023
It just did not happen often enough, which has been the longer-standing trend. And there were plenty of moments as the Bears were clinging to their lead that saw the coaches be conservative.
“Chicago is one of the best cities to play in. It’s f****** great,” exclaimed Bennett in the thread. “But I don’t see you getting stars who wanna win to come there in the future because no one knows what the identity of the team or organization is. no real commitment to winning especially if you keep that coach.”
Eberflus is 6-22 as Bears head coach in one-plus season at the helm.
That gives him a worse winning percentage (.214) than his predecessors. Abe Gibron, who coached the team from 1972 through 1974, is second with an 11-30 record (.274 winning percentage).
“The new Chicago probably lacks all connection with the bears of today,” Bennett concluded. “The youth of Chicago favorite team probably isn’t even the bears.”