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Bernstein: Bears Are A Product In Free-Fall

By Dan Bernstein- senior columnist

(CBS) The experts agree: It's increasingly difficult to figure out how and where this slide ends, with every low point seemingly outdone by yet another negative turn.

"It's anybody's guess," Jim Russell told CNBC. "There is sufficient momentum to the downside that it probably overshoots beyond fundamentals."

"We haven't seen stabilization," Randy Frederick said to Tribune Media. "Everyone wants to know how low it can go."

And from, here's more pessimism from John Kilduff: "The elements … haven't changed. The move lower should extend downward. The bottom of this move isn't in sight yet."

They were talking about crude oil prices in this case, but they might as well have been describing the 5-9 Bears after losing another episode of their nationally televised series that piles one embarrassing flop on top of the other, in what can only be a concerted effort to undermine their own brand. This one was 31-15, at home, to a bad Saints team on Monday night.

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Consider: 92 total yards of offense in the first half, three more Jay Cutler interceptions and what had to be one of the single worst plays in the history of the NFL -- a fake punt on fourth-and-3 from their own 39 that saw a direct snap to Danny McCray in the backfield. Not only was he tackled a yard short of the line to gain, but an illegal formation penalty was called when only 10 men took the field. There were the usual false starts by wide receivers, crumbled pass-protection schemes and a defense allowing more free releases than a desperate record company.

Bears were yelling at Bears after every next failure, despite coach Marc Trestman's laughable assertion that the Aaron Kromer humiliation of last week could "bring a team together, and our team was able to capture that this week and turn it into a very positive work week for us."

Well, obviously.

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This was so bad that even ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden – the man who LOVES EVERYTHING – was dismayed by the quality of play. Gruden, I'm sure, has had nice things to say about tornadoes ("Gotta love that kind of power that can just blast out of nowhere!"), Mad Cow Disease ("Just so effective at what it does – great, great prion!") and John Wayne Gacy ("Really a talented clown before he made some questionable decisions."), but even he was reduced to a sobered shake of the head.

"This has been a hard watch," Gruden said.

His partner, Mike Tirico, called it correctly in the first quarter.

"It's bad," he said. "It's bad ball, Jon."

Later, Gruden called the Bears "lethargic, non-competitive, ugly" and said, "There's a problem here in Chicago right now."

That problem is deep, dark and multifaceted, and it was on display under bright lights to whatever parts of the world still care to watch. Something here is fundamentally broken and irreparable – a systemic failure crying to be put out of its misery by whatever ill-defined hierarchy of nominal upper management and ownership occasionally clots together to formulate such decisions.

It's time to gather and talk, as it has been and will continue to be.

The price of oil has dropped largely due to expansion of extraction here in the US, with previously untapped stores trapped in shale now made available through hydraulically pressurized well-stimulation. Vast fields of previously inaccessible crude are now producing enough to influence the globe, causing panic in OPEC nations as freight trains of tankers trundle out away from the Dakotas to waiting refineries.

Those trains are moving south like the fortunes of a promising football team gone all kinds of wrong.

Distill it any way you want, but the Bears are fracking awful.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Boers and Bernstein Show" in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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