As Bears' offense grows, defense falters
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The mistake was even watching "SportsCenter" on Friday.
But it's there every morning, the doughnut you regret dunking in your coffee because it wasn't nearly as satisfying as the price you pay for it.
Still, it is omnipresent, and the regional bias alive, well and laughable. A mere eight hours after the Bears beat the winless Giants at Soldier Field, the East Coast programming focused on the hapless New York team rather than the division-leading Bears.
There was a long segment on the "Same Old Giants," another on "Eli to Blame?" and two more on "Giant Defensive Mistakes" and "Coughlin's Problems."
Right at the top of the show, it lasted five minutes, two seconds. The New York Giants are 0-6.
The Chicago Bears (4-2) were buried some 15 minutes later, and garnered just over two minutes. The topic, "Bears on the Offensive," was the obligatory story of Brandon Marshall and his targets, though there was a mention of the offensive line and rookie Jordan "Miles."
Oh, well. What should one expect?
There could have been something about how the Bears are just scratching the surface offensively, how Jay Cutler is growing, and that a year from now when there's been a full season to digest the Marc Trestman offense, you might be looking at a prolific operation.
"We see things each and every week that tells us we cannot just be good, we can be very good," Trestman said. "But we also know there is work ahead."
Trestman often talks about getting in the playbook and putting in the study time. Of course, execution is also a big part of it and the Bears — as expected — are missing several opportunities a game to put away teams like the Giants.
When they do that — when they start burying bad teams — the offense can make a case for having arrived.
"You want to continue to be aggressive and do the things you need to do, but we got stalled on three drives," Trestman said of Thursday night's victory. "The biggest plays of the game came up where we lost points.
"(A field goal) would have put us up by 9. It would have been a two-score game. We were disappointed that we couldn't — once we crossed the 50, the 40 — we couldn't finish the drive. That's what I'm saying. We need to continue to work at the reasons and find solutions, because we want to get better.
"Although we played well because we took care of the football, and were clean pretty much offensively, we still want to be more consistent in our ability to move the football game-in and game-out."
As good as the offense has looked at times, the defense has looked old, slow, hurt and ineffective, something Trestman and Phil Emery had to suspect would occur in a rebuilding year, when they knew they were sacrificing defense for offense.
The 19th-ranked defense allows 373 yards per game after the Giants put 355 on them Thursday. While the run defense is at a respectable 102 yards (13th), the Bears are 23rd in pass defense at 271, and 30th in sacks with only 8.
What's keeping the Bears alive is a league-leading 9 interceptions, and Tim Jennings' pick-6 Thursday was the Bears' 11th in the last 22 games. Take away the picks and the Bears are getting picked apart.
"We should have beat these guys tonight. There's no doubt in my mind," Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said Thursday night. "We had a lot of opportunities. We missed a lot opportunities. There were a lot of points out there on that field and we didn't take them."
That's from a player on an 0-6 team after losing to the Bears. But he's right, the Bears' defense is offering chances and you wonder how this will play out the rest of the season.
The good news is the Bears are playing only once in span of 25 days, and that's 1-3 Washington on extra rest, so they should be 5-2 going into the bye, and they'll need that break.
After the week off, they'll play a Monday night game in Green Bay and then host Detroit on short rest with the Lions coming off a bye, followed by Baltimore at home.
That's a tough three-game stretch and the Bears could find themselves back at .500 just that fast if they don't figure out a way to pressure the opposing quarterback.
The defensive line has obviously been hit hard by injuries, but Julius Peppers is mere rumor at this point and Shea McClellin is invisible. The linebackers are either hurt or old, and the secondary is inconsistent at best.
Emery and Trestman knew what they were doing in the off-season when the franchise finally — finally — shifted the focus to offense. They invested in Cutler by improving his protection and supporting cast, while the defense has suffered predictably.
If they could tell the truth, Bears bosses might say they didn't think they'd be 4-2 and in position to make a run at the playoffs.
They're not delusional and they know the issues they face. Fixing them midseason will not be easy.
They know that, too.
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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