Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears
September, 27, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPNChicago.com
After the Chicago Bears' 27-17 loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers, here are three issues that merit further examination:
- Now the Bears' offense is really in a pickle. We've all been telling offensive coordinator Mike Martz to run the ball more. But in retrospect, do you blame him for limiting its exposure Sunday? A 14-0 second-quarter deficit can make it tough to be patient. But more importantly, the Bears couldn't run when they tried. Half of their 12 attempts lost yardage. As currently constituted, the Bears aren't going to be successful when they throw too often. But can you force balance? Negative runs are just about the same as a sack. Their offensive line looked overpowered by the Packers' huge defensive line. Over the past two weeks, at least, the Bears have been on their heels no matter which way they've turned.
- Quarterback Jay Cutler seemed close to bubbling over Sunday, noting that he doesn't audible and deferring play-calling questions because "I don't call the plays." He also left little doubt that he felt the Bears didn't give tailback Matt Forte enough opportunities. But Cutler deserves his fair share of blame for forcing passes downfield. I realize receivers Roy Williams and Johnny Knox both let him down Sunday with key drops, but Cutler threw two interceptions among the eight passes he threw more than 15 yards downfield. Both of those interceptions came on passes intended for Williams. He completed only two of those eight attempts. Cutler's gun-slinging mentality makes him especially vulnerable in an offense with limited alternatives. I'm not sure if it's in him to be more disciplined than he has been. Perhaps he needs more playmakers than most in order to succeed.
- Tight end Kellen Davis made a great individual play on his 32-yard touchdown reception, breaking three tackles on the way to the end zone. But as I watched Cutler struggle to find receivers downfield, I couldn't help but wonder about the decision to trade Greg Olsen and insert Davis as the starter. The touchdown was one of three catches Davis has made this season. Olsen is having a productive season with the Carolina Panthers, having caught 12 passes through three games, including a game-winning touchdown Sunday. I realize Martz doesn't use the tight end much, but Olsen would be the best pass-catcher on this team -- at any position -- if he were still with the Bears. Everything is relative, but it appears the Bears traded away a player who could be offering Cutler an important target right now if they were willing to use him effectively.
Kevin SeifertThe Chicago Bears take their turn in the examination room after losing to the Green Bay Packerss.
I was surprised at how well the Packers ran against the Bears, especially between the tackles. Tailback Ryan Grant didn't have much traction to the outside, but he gashed the Bears for 92 yards anyway, mostly on runs behind center or guard. The Packers were able to shield linebacker Brian Urlacher from making plays on many of those runs. The Bears finished 2010 with the NFL's second-best rush defense based on total yards allowed, but that has slipped to No. 18 over the first three games of the 2011 season with basically the same personnel.