9:25 AM CDT, November 1, 2012
Jay Cutler was asked to explain his NFL-best fourth-quarter ability.
“I don’t know.’’ Cutler said Wednesday. “I’m getting lucky, I guess.’’
No, you’re getting behind, and that has to stop right now.
Look, the Bears are running out bad opponents. They are at the end of their exhibition season that has seen them beat teams that are a combined 15-28.
This week in Tennessee, it’s not a question of whether the Bears can get their offense where it needs to be. It’s a statement that they have to.
It’s not that the Bears have to do it because they have to do it. No, they have to do it because their remaining seven games after this week are against opponents that rank in the top 13 in defense. That starts with No. 3 Houston and No. 1 San Francisco.
The Bears offense is ranked 26th. Can you say “suicide mission,’’ boys and girls? Good. I knew you could.
The Titans’ defense, meanwhile, has allowed 25 touchdowns, second-most in the NFL. The Titans have allowed 257 points, most in the NFL by more than four touchdowns.
You’d think that even the Bears offense could score a couple times in the first half, huh?
Or just make a yard on first down.
The Bears rank last in first-down offense. They face second-and-omigod more than just about every other team.
So, they should be willing to hustle down to Nashville right now to face a rushing defense that allows almost 140 rushing yards a game, which ranks fifth-worst, and a passing defense that allows more than 280 yards, which ranks worse still.
For now, the Bears have to admit they can’t run the explosive offense they said they would. Parts of it are there. We see them in the fourth quarter most of the time. But admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.
The offense seems to have dropped off since Alshon Jeffery got hurt, but should a rookie be the cause of futile first halves? I mean, seriously?
Look, the Bears have gone at this thing backward, stressing the passing game from minicamp through training camp through the first half of the season at the expense of the running game.
And that’s a running game that is better and more diverse than ever with Matt Forte looking like Matt Forte and Michael Bush looking like a starter. With Cutler’s dented ribs, you’d think that handing the ball for Forte would be a gimme.
But no. The Bears called a deep drop to open the Carolina game, learned they couldn’t block it even with maximum protection, and the badly bruised quarterback got hurt again.
“I’m With Stupid’’ T-shirts all around.
As a last resort, read the directions for fixing an offense. Start with the basics. Rely on the run to set up the pass. Hard to believe, but Forte has fewer touches under offensive coordinator Mike Tice than he averaged under Mike Martz last year. That’s as nuts as Martz was.
For the record, the Bears have scored six rushing touchdowns, the same number of TDs the defense has scored. Fix this.
That would be the first big step toward looking like a Super Bowl offense, or even like a big-boy offense.
Cutler said Wednesday that the Bears’ opportunistic defense gives the offense some room for mistakes. But there is no guarantee that will continue. Same goes for dramatic comebacks and Cutler’s “just getting lucky, I guess.’’
Before the season, people wondered about the age of the defense and projected that the offense with the new toys would be able to carry the defense.
Turns out, it has gone the other way. But it gets tougher to continue that kind of opportunistic defense in the second half of a season, especially if the age questions bring the wrong answers.
That will require a professional offense. Starting right now.
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