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posted: 12/13/2012 9:03 PM

Bears looking to increase level of fun on offense

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  • Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler on the bench as the Seattle Seahawks score near the end of regulation at Soldier Field earlier this month.

      Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler on the bench as the Seattle Seahawks score near the end of regulation at Soldier Field earlier this month.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler near the end of regulation at Soldier Field in the loss to Seattle earlier this month.

      Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler near the end of regulation at Soldier Field in the loss to Seattle earlier this month.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

For a Bears offense struggling to find an identity and the end zone, the Green Bay Packers are not a pleasant sight.

While losing five straight, including three by double-digits, to their longtime foe, the Bears have averaged just 13 points per game.

In their last five outings this season, the Bears' offense has put up just 14.4 points per game and scored only 8 touchdowns.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has struggled as much against the Packers as any Bear. In eight starts vs. Green Bay, including seven as a Bear, Cutler is 1-7 with 16 interceptions, 8 touchdown passes and a passer rating of 58.9.

"They have a good game plan," Cutler said. "I think (defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers) does a great job up there of getting those guys prepared and showing different looks and taking away what offenses are good at and what they want to do with the ball.

"We've got to prepare for it, and we've got to be ready for other guys to make plays besides Brandon (Marshall)."

Even Marshall was stymied by Capers in the first Bears-Packers meeting this season, catching just 2 passes for 24 yards.

"We missed some opportunities last time with Brandon," Cutler said. "He'll probably be the first to tell you that. Like I said, they're going to do a good job of taking him away.

"For us to be successful down the road, we're going to have other guys make plays for us offensively."

That has been a problem as well when the Packers are involved. In eight games vs. them Matt Forte has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry with 1 touchdown. In 12 games, Devin Hester has 12 catches and 1 receiving touchdown, although he has scored twice on punt returns.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice thinks his crew needs to lighten up a little.

"It just doesn't feel like we're having enough fun," Tice said. "This thing is supposed to be fun. When you don't have fun, you put added burden and added stress on yourself. I don't think that's what we need to do right now.

"We need to go out and find a way to execute and get down in the red zone because we've been pretty good in the red zone. We've scored seven of the last nine. We just need to get down there more."

For the season the Bears have scored 19 touchdowns on 36 red-zone possessions (52.8 percent), ranking 17th in the NFL.

But in last week's loss at Minnesota, the offense was plagued by at least 5 drops, and 2 came on back-to-back plays late in the fourth quarter from just outside the red zone at the Vikings' 23.

"I'm hoping it's not me putting stress on them," Tice said. "I try to keep it loose and have fun. But at a certain point we have to look at every reason why guys aren't relaxing and making those plays.

"They make them in practice, and practices have been sound and sharp with no balls on the ground. We need to carry that over to the game."

Tice is doing what he can this week to keep it loose, but he says he doesn't want a group that's too relaxed.

"Hopefully the energy and the positive spin that I'm going to make sure I have this week relaxes them a little bit and carries over," he said.

"I don't mean going out and playing relaxed football because when the whistle blows it's a battle, it's man on man, and you've got to win that individual battle. It's fierce.

"But I'm talking about, 'Take a deep breath and relax.'"

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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