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SPORTS WEEKEND | AROUND THE NFC / CENTRAL

Spinning Out of Control

October 20, 2000

You know a team, such as the Chicago Bears, is in big trouble when its coach, such as Dick Jauron, turns shameless spin doctor before Halloween.

"The team is better," Jauron said this week, trying to convince beat writers, who seemed to be distracted by the Bears' 1-6 record. "This team is what I thought they would be. The team is better than we were a year ago. We're faster. We have more pieces of the puzzle than we've had in the past."

Oh, really?

To match last season's 6-10 record, the Bears will have to win five of their last nine games, a steep climb for a team that has lost 10 of its last 12 games and eight of its last nine at home.

From 1999 to 2000, the Bears have slipped from eighth in total offense to 19th and third in passing to 20th. They have the second-fewest points (101) of any team to have already played seven games, ahead of only Cleveland's 95. A 28-16 loser to Minnesota last week, Chicago has now gone 34 consecutive games without scoring 30 points--the longest such streak in franchise history.

Defensively, the Bears are up a notch--from 29th overall in '99 to 28th--but only three teams have given up more points.

The Bears, meanwhile, held open tryouts this week for a punter. To be followed, presumably, by open tryouts at quarterback, running back, tight end, defensive line, linebacker and safety.

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