Much rests on Bears' offense
Both coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler admit that the Bears' offense still is a work in progress, and there's plenty of evidence to back them up.
Most recently, the Bears failed to reach the end zone in the second half of Thursday's victory over the New York Giants, who came into that game having allowed more points than any team in the NFL.
But the Bears have scored 24 points or more in five of their first six games, and that has only happened once before in the previous 17 years, during the 2006 Super Bowl season.
Through six games the Bears have scored 172 points, an average of 28.7. Only once in the previous 23 years have the Bears scored that many points in their first six games, again, in 2006.
And, if the Bears' playoff hopes are to reach fruition, the offense must continue to pile up points.
And, because the Bears' defense has been so injury prone and so permissive this season -- allowing 21 or more points in each of the first six games for just the second time in franchise history -- the offense will have to continue scoring in bunches. That's the current trend in the NFL.
"We're getting to a point where we're at 21 points, and sometimes it isn't going to cut it in this league," Cutler said. "You have to put up 30, sometimes more. There are games where you know it's going to be 21-14, 21-10, 14-10, but I think that's going to be more of the rarity than it was before."
The Bears' defense doesn't look as if it's capable of winning those games. It will be better when cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) and defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) return from injuries, hopefully Sunday against at Washington.
But this defense will never be better than average. Even with everyone healthy, it was average, and now it has lost tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins and middle linebacker D.J. Williams for the season.
To be fair to the much-maligned defense, it has contributed 4 touchdowns to the team's point total when it wasn't allowing opponents to score.
Fortunately for the Bears, Cutler is off to the best start of his career, with passer ratings over 90.0 in five of six games for the first time. His cumulative passer rating of 95.2 is the best six-game start of his eight-year career and more than 10 points above his career mark of 84.0 and far better than his 81.9 passer rating as a Bear.
"Jay is very efficient with the football," Trestman said, a quality the quarterback hasn't consistently demonstrated in the past. "He took care of (the ball). If you take care of the football and you create turnovers, you're going to be in the game in the fourth quarter and have a chance to win."
Cutler and the offense will have every opportunity to continue their fast starts Sunday against a Redskins defense that had allowed more yards than any team in the league through five weeks. Coach Mike Shanahan's team doesn't rank higher than 26th in rushing yards, average gain per rush, passing yards, average gain per pass and points allowed and in interception percentage.
The offense should get used to carrying the team because that's the Bears' best bet for getting to the postseason.
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