Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 31-15 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field.

What it means: Nothing more than this nightmare is closer to a conclusion. Once mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Dec. 7, the Bears talked plenty about finishing the season strong and competing hard for jobs in 2015. But from this vantage point, the Bears appear to have checked out. With the Detroit Lions coming to town next week, it's unlikely they'll win another game in front of the home crowd in 2014, and it's certainly worth pondering how much more ownership can stomach before making sweeping changes.

Stock Watch: Myriad issues plague the Bears, so it's not all Jay Cutler's fault. But at the same time, Cutler should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the way the offense performed. New Orleans shut out the Bears in the first half for the fourth time this season, as the Saints headed into the locker room at intermission ahead 14-0.

Chicago has now been outscored 251-124 in the first half this season. Cutler's first-half stat line looked like this: 6-of-14 for 56 yards and two interceptions to go with a passer rating of 14.9. Cutler also absorbed three sacks in the first half, with one coming on a screen pass he should've thrown at the feet of running back Matt Forte.

It's absolutely true that football is a team game, and the protection failed Cutler pretty routinely. But Cutler's $22.5 million salary for 2014 makes him a little more important than most players on the squad. And the truth is, he's got to perform much better. Cutler suffered a season-high seven sacks and extended his NFL lead for turnovers to 24 with three picks against the Saints, finishing with his worst passer rating (55.8) of the season. As receiver Brandon Marshall would say: Unacceptable.

Bears fooled themselves: The Bears called for a direct snap to personal protector Danny McCray on a fake punt in the second quarter from their own 39. Worse than the fact McCray failed to gain enough yardage to convert the fourth-and-3 was the club lining up with just 10 men on the field. Officials flagged the Bears for illegal formation on the play, but the Saints declined because McCray gained just two yards on the fake.

The whole sequence sort of summed up the dysfunction permeating Chicago in 2014.

No shows: The Bears announced 10,749 unused tickets for Monday's game. Given the direction this team seems headed in, that number could grow when the Bears host the Lions in the Soldier Field finale.

Game ball: With all due respect to special teams, it's a shame when a punter receives the game ball. But that's exactly what's happening after this one, as rookie Pat O'Donnell finished the night with a 46.3-yard net average on six punts.

What's next: The Bears plan to take off Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to the practice fields at Halas Hall to prepare to host the Lions on Sunday. The Bears hope to avoid a season sweep at the hands of Detroit for the second consecutive year.