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updated: 10/29/2012 10:14 PM

Bears' offense continues to struggle

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

It's debatable whether Sunday's victory over Carolina was aesthetic, but there's no denying the Bears' offense has not been a thing of beauty through seven games.

The Bears are 30th in sacks allowed and passing yards, 28th in yards per pass play and 26th in total yards and interception percentage.

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Not surprisingly, coach Lovie Smith views the glass as half full.

"I'm looking at it as you look at it for the team," Smith said. "Our offense has allowed us to get to a 6-1 record."

The Bears have achieved that lofty status more in spite of the offense than because of it. But Smith made some valid points when he was asked if he expected that the offense would be further along by this point.

"I think you have to be careful about when you say 'further along,' and 'yardage,' and all of those things. You're looking at the wrong thing," he said.

"I'm looking at ball security and, each week, what does it take, what do we need our offense to do in order for us to win the football game. I've been pleased with that or we wouldn't have 6 wins."

But it's unrealistic to hope the defense will continue to score more touchdowns than it allows, as it has done over the past five games.

Some time soon, the offense will have to carry its share of the load. After Sunday's road game against Tennessee (3-5), the Bears' next seven are all against teams that are .500 or better, starting with back-to-back games against Houston and San Francisco.

"Are we going to make a jump, and will we have to rely on our offense to carry us a few football games, and will we be able to do that?" Smith said. "Yes. I think that's when you will really see what we truly are as an offensive team."

A jump? That's a leap of faith, considering the offense has scored just 10 touchdowns in the six games since the season opener.

The run game has been productive for most of the season, and the line has done a much better job blocking for the run than it has in pass protection.

The 6 sacks it allowed in the first half against an average Panthers defense with an average pass rush has to be cause for concern.

It casts doubt on whether quarterback Jay Cutler will ever have the protection he needs to give the Bears the potent passing attack that was expected when Brandon Marshall was added to the mix.

"It was an ugly three quarters," center Roberto Garza admitted. "We just didn't execute. We didn't do our techniques. We didn't play like we've played the last couple of weeks.

"But it's a tribute to coach (Mike) Tice, Cutler and the receivers. They did a (heck) of a job of getting points when we needed them and going out there and finishing the game."

Smith says the Bears will stay the course, but to have any success in the postseason, the offense will have to do more than run the ball well.

"We're going to keep running our offense, and we're going to execute better early on," the coach said. "If it comes down to that (again), hopefully we'll have the same results at the end of the game.

"It is about execution most of the time, but we're not going to change what we believe in or anything like that.

"We are going to do it better, but we're not going to apologize for being 6-1 and not playing our best game and getting a win."

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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