Jay Cutler was right earlier this week when he suggested the volume of words devoted to the struggles of the Bears' first-team offense has been excessive.
"You guys are hitting the panic button after two preseason games," Cutler said after being peppered with queries about his first-possession interception against the Panthers and the Bears' minus-14 yards first series against the Chargers last week.
"We've ran 30 (plays)," said Cutler, who targeted Brandon Marshall on all of his five pass attempts against the Chargers. "Yeah, we're going to spread it around. We can't just throw it to Brandon, give it to Matt (Forte). We have to figure out ways to get all the guys involved."
Bears fans really don't care who gets his name in the scoring summary. They just want to see somebody spike the ball in the end zone after the Bears' first possession.
What was absent from Cutler's responses was an awareness that his team always has hiccups right out of the gate.
Last season, the first-series blues regularly vexed the Bears and Cutler, who makes his final tuneup against the Raiders on Friday night at Oakland. A three-and-out or a turnover on the first set of downs again would deserve only a roll of the eyes. But if the Bears offense fails on its first chance against the Bengals in the regular-season opener, feel free to hit that panic button.
The Bears were among the NFL's worst first-possession teams in 2012. In their last 10 games, they scored only once on their opening series.
Cutler was the starter for nine of those games. The departed Jason Campbell was at the wheel when the 49ers KO'd the Bears in San Francisco.
If Marc Trestman's Bears are going to be a playoff team this season, they have to do an about-face and take some pressure off their defense.
The best recipe is to put points on the board first, then let the defense dig in and protect the lead. Last year, the onus was on the Bears' opportunistic defense to be responsible for getting a lead.
And they got away with it — for awhile. The Bears scored two defensive touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and jumped out to a 7-1 record before returning to mere mortals on defense while remaining sub-par offensively.
In his 15 starts last year, Cutler led the Bears to a soberingly-low 17 points on the team's first drive of the game. The eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens scored 40 points on their first drives as Joe Flacco finally shed the label of "second tier" and played his way into the juicy contract Cutler covets.
Veterans who had "down years," like Philip Rivers and Tony Romo, also were decidedly more productive than Cutler and the Bears on their teams' first possessions. In 16 chances, the Chargers scored 31 points. Romo put 26 points on the board on his team's 16 opening possessions.
Even offenses driven by rookie quarterbacks blew the Bears out of the water. Russell Wilson's Seahawks scored 46 points, Andrew Luck's Colts 38 points and Robert Griffin III's Redskins 30.
In case you missed it, it's worth repeating: The Bears' offense muscled only 17 points in their first possession of the game last season.
This has to change. The Bears offense needs to play with urgency early. Consistently. It's a "show me" season for the Bears.
Trestman was hired to fix the pedestrian offense. An upgraded offensive line and tight end Martellus Bennett should be enough to push the Bears into the 21st century.
All we have now is the hope there will be changes and the Bears start strong. Meanwhile, I'm warming up that index finger for the panic button. September is the proper time to press it.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.