Rozner: Bears sadly lacking identity, leadership

  • Coach Marc Trestman leaves the field after Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, keeping the Bears winless in three games at home this season.

    Coach Marc Trestman leaves the field after Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, keeping the Bears winless in three games at home this season. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/20/2014 11:59 PM

Just who are the Chicago Bears?

Seven games into the season, we have no idea what to make of a team that has won three times on the road while losing all three at home.


Worst yet, the Bears have no idea what to make of themselves.

They have no identity, as evidenced by players unable to answer that question following Sunday's loss to Miami at Soldier Field.

Player after player was asked, and not a one could speak to the identity of the club.

"I don't know," said Tim Jennings.

"Good question," said Kyle Long.

"Some weeks I think I know," said Jordan Mills. "Others, I don't."

The Bears were supposed to be an offensive juggernaut, but they are far from it.

They can't win with defense, which hardly makes them unique in the NFL.

And they don't get by with great special teams, which will come as news to precisely no one on this planet.

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There are many teams in the NFL that do survive with great quarterback play, and many others that win because of their quarterback even on days when he's not great.

That's their identity.

The Packers are Aaron Rodgers. The Broncos are Peyton Manning. The Patriots are Tom Brady. The Colts are Andrew Luck. The Chargers are Phil Rivers.

The Cowboys -- finally -- are Tony Romo, but they also shove their running game down your throat, possess a dominant offensive line and have a much-improved defense.

The Giants won two Super Bowls with Eli Manning. The Saints won a Super Bowl with Drew Brees, and even in defeat Brees leads New Orleans on and off the field.


These are men who play great football and lead teams with their arms and their brains. They inspire and they execute.

This was supposed to be the year it happened that way for Jay Cutler, but he has done none of the above.

When all about him are losing their heads, Cutler is supposed to the voice of calm, providing great play on the field and keeping his team under control in the huddle and in the locker room.

He was supposed to see the field like never before, yet he has passed on so many opportunities to run for first downs this year, often passing to the other team instead.

To be certain, much of it is on Marc Trestman, who doesn't seem to have a 1-yard play in his book of magic tricks. He neither commits to the run nor has it available at the most obvious times.

Against Buffalo, the Bears strolled down the field in the final four minutes with a chance win, but on second-and-1 from the Buffalo 19, Cutler threw incomplete deep to Brandon Marshall and short to Santonio Holmes.

They couldn't get a yard, kicked a field goal and lost in overtime.

The Bears were in complete control at Carolina and up 21-7 late in the first half when another TD would have ended the game, but on third-and 3 from the Panthers' 17, an incomplete pass preceded a missed field goal, before Carolina walked down the field and scored just before half.

On Sunday, the Bears' defense started with a sack and forced a three-and-out, but with great field position and a third-and-1 from their own 47, Trestman chose to throw the ball again, with Cutler missing Alshon Jeffery deep.

"We had a short throw (called), they came and pressed us up, and Jay made a good decision to try to take a shot, and we didn't get it," Trestman said. "It all started from there."

Pretty much.

But if you don't commit to the run, does that mean you don't have a 1-yard play? Apparently not.

The Bears called four run plays in the first half, and Cutler checked out of two of them. "We've got to get a rhythm going," he said. "We've got to get Matt (Forte) going a little earlier in the game."

Cutler also admitted that he must do more as the field general.

"I've just got to lead this group," he said, "and try to find a way to make sure we play clean football for four quarters."

That would be helpful, but there's no evidence to suggest it will happen consistently, and if it doesn't come from the quarterback position it has to come from the coach.

Trestman is also less than inspiring, and he managed to get out-coached by the legendary Joe Philbin on Sunday at home.

So is it Brandon Marshall? He'll be skewered all week for his postgame diatribe Sunday, but at least he displayed a pulse.

Maybe it will be Kyle Long, who has the credibility and the pedigree, but he's only been here 23 games and may not think it's his time yet.

"I don't know if somebody blowing up would be the best thing," Long said. "It's obviously a really tough spot that we're in right now. We can't seem to get the formula right at home, which is a spot where you should be more comfortable playing football."

The best answer is for the quarterback to play great and inspired football and avoid turnovers. Someone screaming is not generally a positive.

On the other hand, at this point, what can it hurt?

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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