MORRISSEY: For Bears, victory trumps woeful offense
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com September 23, 2012 9:46PM
Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan breaks up a pass intended for Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery in the first quarter Sunday. Jeffery caught five passes for 45 yards in the Bears’ 23-6 victory. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 23, 2012 1:58AM
If the only thing that matters is the Bears’ improvement to 2-1, then we have nothing to talk about. All conversation can cease, and we can go back to much more important things, such as the iPhone 5 or a Kardashian — any Kardashian.
But if you’re of the mind that improving from week to week matters in the NFL, then we have some things to discuss about these Bears, who aren’t a work in progress so much as they’re a study in suspended animation.
That’s a nice way of saying that if you were bored silly watching the Bears’ offense wheeze Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, you don’t have to apologize. The musty effort apparently was pulled from your great-grandmother’s jewelry drawer.
God bless Robbie Gould, but no one outside of his family and the Kickers Are People, Too, Anti-Defamation League came to Soldier Field to watch him make three field goals. The Bears won 23-6, thanks to their stifling defense and the Rams’ ugly offense. The Bears’ offense was a whisper.
At one point, I sat back and tried to look at the game in terms of sheer entertainment value. If I were a theater critic, I would have given it a ‘‘not recommended.’’ If I were a movie critic, I would have given it 11/2 stars and told you to cover the kids’ eyes. The food critic in me would have told you to give Long John Silver’s another chance.
Coach Lovie Smith thought the game was just about the most wonderful thing he had seen. You think Lovie is concerned about an offense that has struggled in two consecutive games? Have you people been imbibing?
‘‘I was happy with the game,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s pretty simple, guys. When things don’t go well, we’re going to be really unhappy. But when we find a way as a football team to win the game, we’re going to enjoy that first.’’
Smith said there would be days the offense would score 41 points to help the Bears win. Implied was
the notion the Bears’ offense can
turn it on when necessary. Nothing we’ve seen three games into the season suggests this is a team that
can score points when it feels like it. The first three games suggest the Bears are more prone to recession than acceleration on offense.
Jay Cutler finished 17-for-31
for 183 yards. He threw an interception, and his passer rating was 58.9. His receivers dropped some perfect passes. If all of that is by design, then the Bears are on the cutting edge of a new movement that thinks mediocrity is the new good.
At least there was some honesty in the Bears’ locker room after the game.
‘‘In the first half, we were hurting ourselves,’’ said Michael Bush, who started at running back in place of injured Matt Forte. ‘‘We had some penalties. We were moving the ball fine. In the second half, it was slow. It was stagnant.’’
The Bears’ defense was very good against a Rams team that has poor blocking and no big-play threat. The Bears sacked Sam Bradford six times. They can thank Bradford for some of that. He holds on to the ball like a miser holds on to his first chocolate coin.
But enough good things can’t be said about cornerback Tim Jennings, who had his fourth
interception in three games. He also had a deflection that led to Major Wright’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.
‘‘We want to take some pressure off the offense, give them a little more confidence,’’ Jennings said.
The offense was supposed to carry the Bears this season, but so far it has been the defense that has stood up — first against the Green Bay Packers, then again Sunday.
You just know linebacker Brian Urlacher is chuckling about that. Lots of us had written off the defense as old and rickety. But there it was against the Rams, saving the day again and again.
So far, the Bears have lost to one good team and beaten two teams that finished 2-14 last season.
‘‘Just a good team win for us to get back on track,’’ Smith said, referring to the bounce-back after the painful loss to the Packers.
One of Smith’s strengths is getting his players to believe in what he’s telling them, and it was obvious his message had gotten across.
‘‘We won the game,’’ receiver Alshon Jeffery said.
It will take a lot more than this to win the war.