Skip to content
Henry Burris is lucky.
Sure, he might not have been thinking that as he picked himself off the Ericsson Stadium turf time and again Sunday, only to see the ball he just threw lying there alone and harmless, far from any other human life form.
But in a way, he really is fortunate, getting some valuable if not exactly meaningful playing time under conditions that, while violent and often painful, are not, in the proverbial big picture, pressure-filled.
If this were a playoff season or even close, surely they would be all over him, a few veteran linemen, the offensive coordinator, even a defensive player or two letting him know, maybe even letting us know, how ill-prepared he is for the big time.
But Burris is a nice kid, an undrafted kid, the season is lost and so we are left to move on to bigger targets, like those kindly offensive linemen who also take all the fun out of things by ripping themselves.
"It was pretty much a debacle today," said guard Chris Villarrial of the 24-14 loss, in which the Bears managed 10 yards rushing in the first half and 55 yards in all on 22 carries, not to mention getting one quarterback knocked silly and the other one scared silly. "We really screwed it up today. We stunk the joint up, and it's a hard one to take."
After 15 games, the Bears are averaging 83.9 yards on the ground per game and 3.4 yards per carry, with eight rushing touchdowns. Compare that to, say, Kansas City with 155.6 yards per game and 26 rushing touchdowns after Sunday and well, you can see the problem if you had not detected it earlier.
In fact, that 83.9 average is worst in the league, which makes it easy to spread the blame among running backs, linemen and tight ends. Villarrial couldn't remember Kevin Dogins' first name Sunday, which is never a good thing and sort of underscores that whole chemistry problem.
After a pretty good outing against the Jets last week105 yards on the ground on 27 carries and two touchdownsthe Bears took a step back against the Panthers
and back and back, which explained the look of sheer terror on Burris' face for much of the day.
"It's hard not to get happy feet when the rush keeps coming," center Olin Kreutz said. "When pretty much the third-string quarterback comes in, we have to take more responsibility and we didn't."
They are nothing if not self-deprecating.
"I don't think today had anything to do with Burris," Kreutz said. "I didn't block guys; we just didn't block guys. It's hard to get anything done when guys are flying in your face all day."
"We're a veteran line," said Villarrial, "and it's embarrassing."
Embarrassing and no doubt unsettling when your starting quarterback gets carted off the field again, this time so disoriented he couldn't speak afterward.
"You try to put all of your quarterbacks on the same level," tackle James Williams said. "You don't want any of them to get hurt. You didn't want to see Jim [Miller] get hurt. Then we move to Chandler and you don't want to see Chris get hurt. Now you've got to move to Burris."
If Burris goes down next week, it'll be Cory Sauter and then Marty Booker unless the season ends first. One can only hope.
There was some credit given Sunday to the Panthers, whose defense isall together nowbetter than their record indicates. But, as Williams pointed out: "People always say that when you're 4-12 or whatever. They always say the team is better than the record shows."
Except no one is saying that about the Bears. Not anymore.