The schedule and mother nature hid it for a while.
The 20-12 loss Sunday to the New York Giants revealed all.
"It’s just execution,' coach Matt Eberflus said. "It really is. It’s just execution,"
Or lack, thereof.
Often it takes a game against a comparable opponent to prove as a bellweather, and the bell toll for the Bears in New Jersey.
They are the rebuilding team we thought they were and not one of the very few organizations that rapidly reform after being torn down to the ground.
There are two types of rebuilds.
The basic model behind door No. 1 takes a while and makes great demands of a team's fans. It comes from the ground floor up and the timetable is indefinite.
The Bears long ago chose door No. 1 over door No. 2, which is the half-baked Ryan Pace approach where a team simply melds pieces from the previous regime with the new one and tries to pretend past flaws never existed.
This works for a brief time until the entire thing collapses around the head coach, whose methods work fine if you have a deodorizer like Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.
So Bears fans need to get used to what they saw Sunday.
There will be plenty more games when:
- Young players like Velus Jones Jr. disappoint in a time of need.
- Jaquan Brisker both leaves the edge unattended and then makes brilliant sack or hit in the open field.
- Kyler Gordon misses tackles and assignments but makes spectacular plays on the ball.
- Dante Pettis and others like him drop perfectly good passes, because they are receivers who would not even be on most NFL rosters.
- If they keep losing offensive linemen like with the knee injury Cody Whitehair suffered, there will be plenty more sacks of Justin Fields and there have been 16 of those in four games.
- More than anything else, there will be Fields holding the ball too long and turning it over with a fumble right after converting third-and-20, because he's not familiar enough yet with the offense and reading defenses or just not good enough at either. That's yet to be determined.
It's rare when a complete rebuild from the ground floor up rapidly achieves a level of success and four games have shown it won't occur this way with the Bears.
Their lot in life is to be beaten regularly this season, show glimpses of what might be possible, and ultimately establish a ground floor for Ryan Poles' great shopping spree of the coming offseason.
After seeing how they can't stop the run, can't rush the passer, can't protect the passer and can't catch passes, there are some very obvious places for Poles to begin spending all of his 2023 salary cap cash.
If Fields doesn't show more ability to speed up his read-and-throw process, then it could be quarterback they throw onto that pile of needs. If he can raise his playing level and pull the team along with him, then such a move might be unnecessary.
There are 13 more of these, the playoffs and about three weeks of the offseason until Poles can seriously begin looking at people who will make Year 2 of the rebuild a greater success.
Fasten your seatbelts, Sunday showed it's going to be a very bumpy 13 games.