There wasn't anything pretty about Sunday's 38-17 loss to the Vikings, the Bears' third straight defeat since a Thanksgiving night win in Green Bay had improved their record to 5-6.
"As we've talked about our record, it's disappointing," coach John Fox said Monday, one day after the Bears fell to 5-9. "I think it's disappointing probably to our fans. I know it is to us in this building, whether you're a player or a coach or administrator.
"That was probably one of our better performances, that Green Bay game. [But] that was four games ago. We've had three games since. We had opportunities. Yesterday was probably our poorest performance of those three games."
The Bears had high hopes after their victory at Lambeau Field. But their current three-game skid has assured them of missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years and having back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2003-04.
"I'm not good at the blame game," Fox said. "To me, it's all of us. It's coaching, it's playing, it's executing. Ultimately, we're all in it together. I would say I'm disappointed in our record and kinda really leave it at that because that's kinda what we're measured on."
The Bears have shot themselves in the foot so often this season that it probably looks like they're wearing Crocs by now. It happened on the very first play from scrimmage Sunday when center Hroniss Grasu was flagged for holding, erasing Kyle Long's 35-yard run to the Minnesota 15.
It was the 22nd holding penalty against the Bears offensive line this season, most in the NFL. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. Jr. was flagged for holding in the second half, but that penalty was declined.
"We've had our share of turnover there and changes and shifts, but just like anything it comes down to technique and being able to execute technique under pressure," Fox said.
"It's no different at that position than if you're talking about offside or defensive holding penalties or whatever penalties sometimes, and this is not being critical of the particular crew, but sometimes it's just a bad call."
Right tackle Kyle Long was not called for a penalty, but the third-year pro gave up a strip/sack that resulted in a turnover for the second straight week. It came after the Bears had opened the second half by recovering a surprise onside kick near midfield.
Long switched to right tackle this season after playing his first two years with the Bears at right guard.
"I don't think he's had any more or less problems than maybe other positions," Fox said. "It is a new position—I think that's well-documented—one that I've seen him operate at a very high level against some pretty good players. Again, it's just about that consistency thing. We've had that issue, not just Kyle Long but with our whole football team."
The Bears defense drew four offside penalties Sunday, including one on outside linebacker Lamarr Houston that nullified his third-down sack of Teddy Bridgewater. On the next play, Bridgewater completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon, giving the Vikings a 17-7 lead.
Asked about the offside penalties, Fox said: "These four words always ring true in my brain and that starts from me down: Focus, intensity, preparation and really just the mental toughness to create all those things on a consistent basis. So we're not there yet."
The Bears also struggled with missed tackles against the Vikings, with safety Chris Prosinski and inside linebacker Shea McClellin both failing on multiple occasions to stop ballcarriers.
"I don't know that it's been a major problem for us, say a seasonal problem," Fox said. "We're not in pads as much. There is a lot of things you can accomplish just in your body position and your angles and whatnot that you don't really need some of the hard pad hitting practice to do it. You get to this point in the season, not many people are doing that. I think it's more mental; more of a mindset and back to those four words I was talking about."