- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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The club is missing the most important ingredient: the deep ball.
“We’ve gotten some explosive plays. But as far as pushing the ball 40, 50 yards in the air, I don’t think we’ve touched on what we’re capable of there yet,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “If it happens this week, it happens this week. Those are things you can’t force. [Martz is] going to dial some up in the game, and if they’re there, they’re there. We just haven’t had an opportunity to hit them yet.”
It’s unclear whether that will ever come, but the truth is the Bears haven’t really taken advantage of their limited opportunities on deep passes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cutler has completed just 8 of 33 attempts of at least 21 yards down the field.
“It’ll happen,” Martz said. “It’s just a step-by-step process. We had to get the running game going. We did. There were some other things we had to fix. We did. We’ve taken a couple shots, didn’t get them. That’s all right. You just have to choose your spots. That will come because we’ve got those kinds of guys outside. We'll just keep rolling along. Sooner or later we're gonna hit a few of those."
Interestingly, the quarterback’s lone touchdown pass of at least 21 yards downfield came in Week 1 against the Lions, who host the Bears on Sunday at Ford Field.
“As a defense, that’s probably one of the first things you’re going to try to take away from us is our big-play ability with our speed outside and with [tight end] Greg [Olsen] going up the middle,” Cutler said. “You’ve got to take away that stuff because we’ve hit some big 40-, 50-, 60-yarders, and you get those guys in space, and they’re going to be hard to tackle.”
So far this season, the Bears have completed 28 passes of 20 yards or more, including 15 connections of 30 yards or more. Most of those chunks were generated by the receiver gaining yardage after the catch as only eight of those passes traveled at least 21 yards downfield.
“Defenses will look at that and say they need to tackle better, they need to corral the ball better,” Cutler said. “That’s what they’re going to give up. As far as getting the one-on-ones deep down the field, I’m sure that’s what they want to eliminate.”