MORRISSEY: Until we see points, Bears’ offense isn’t doing its part
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org December 8, 2012 12:12AM
The Bears Jay Cutler looks for an open receiver in the first quarter against Seattle at Soldier Field December 2, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:25AM
The ghost town that was the Bears’ locker room Wednesday included rows of silent stalls, a few used towels, some media types and linebackers Geno Hayes and Dom DeCicco. It felt like movie-extra purgatory.
There were no members of the offense to be seen, a bad thing for interview-hungry reporters but a positive if you convinced yourself those players were tirelessly preparing to carry the load for the defense until Brian Urlacher returns to action.
That’s one of the themes heading into Sunday’s game at Minnesota: It’s time for the offense to stand up, be counted, take charge, become full voting members of the team and what’s it going to take for you guys to score some touchdowns? It’s Week 14, for crying out loud!
Of course, that’s not how it was put to quarterback Jay Cutler, who was politely asked at his weekly news conference what the offense could do to help ‘‘pick up’’ the defense. It’s good form to be tactful at a crime scene. You don’t blurt out, ‘‘What’s with the dead body?’’
‘‘We have to find a way,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘We’ve got to score more points. We’ve got to be more efficient. Third down has been getting better. First down has been getting better. Red zone, when we get in there, we’ve done a good job. We’ve just got to get more points, whatever it takes. We missed a few opportunities against Seattle. We can’t afford that right now.’’
Allow me to do the hard mining for you and dig out the gold nugget from that statement: ‘‘We’ve got to score more points.’’
Implicit in Cutler’s words is the idea that the Bears have the ability to score more points, which is gigantically open to question. If it’s true that the offense can turn it on any time it cares to, then it’s also true that the offense hasn’t cared to very often this season.
The biggest problem, of course, is the weak offensive line. We’ve been over that like a worn rug, but one of the byproducts of the poor line play is Cutler’s tendency to stare at wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the point of distraction. To be clear, Marshall has been nothing but good for the Bears — 91 catches for 1,182 yards. But those yards account for 54.1 percent of the team’s passing offense and 32.3 percent of its total offense. If the Bears were a ship, they’d be listing badly.
They have a one-dimensional offense or, if you prefer, a two-player offense. It’s Cutler, Marshall and a collection of furniture.
There has been no running game lately. Again, the offensive line is the problem, but Matt Forte isn’t the kind of back who can make something out of nothing at the line of scrimmage. That’s how you wind up with this: In the four games since his 103-yard performance against Tennessee on Nov. 4, he has averaged 2.9 yards a carry.
It’s not about one player or even one segment of the team, the Bears insist.
‘‘Whoever is in there has to play winning football,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. ‘‘That’s the key. I told the guys [that] to walk around and say, ‘Hey, I’m the starting so-and-so for the Chicago Bears’ offense,’ and then you don’t play well as an offense, what’s so good about that? If you’re going to be a starting guy for the offense, play winning football for us.’’
You can’t win in the playoffs the way the Bears, losers of three of their last four games, have been playing. And right now, everything has to do with the playoffs. It has nothing to do with exacting revenge on Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, whose vicious hit two weeks ago ended the season for Bears guard Lance Louis.
Time for the offense to locate itself. Now. That sounds like a rallying cry, but it doesn’t particularly bode well for the Bears. If you recall, the Vikings were wretched when they came to Soldier Field last month, but they do have a solid defense. The Bears’ offense needs to find some sort of rhythm, some sort of groove that will help ignite the team. If it doesn’t find something soon, a postseason invitation won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Let’s see if the offense can carry some of the water. I don’t see an offensive miracle happening Sunday. I see a lot of sloshing. Raincoats could be required inside the Metrodome.