Little room for error for Bears
Bears coach Marc Trestman won't change.
In the second half of the season, he will be the same even-keeled, scholarly, calm tactician he's always been.
But, if the fortunes of his 3-5 team don't change, starting with Sunday night's game in Green Bay against the Packers, big changes can be expected.
A 3-5 second half might not cost Trestman his job, but someone will take the fall, starting with his assistant coaches.
For now, Trestman is confident that all is well at Halas Hall.
"The support in this building has been outstanding," the Bears' coach said. "Everybody upstairs has been extremely supportive of the way we're handling things. Our team has been unbelievably compliant in doing everything that we, as coaches and myself, have asked them to do. That's evident on the field. It's evident in the locker room. It's evident in the meeting room that these guys are an amazing group of men that have been extremely compliant."
But that could change by Monday, based on how the Bears perform at Green Bay after a week of rest and self-analysis.
Slow starts doomed the Bears in their previous two games, when they were outscored a combined 52-7 in the first half of losses to New England and Miami. Trestman believes he has identified the problems, and now it's all about implementing the solutions.
"It comes down to play selection," said Trestman, who calls the offensive plays. "It comes down to mental errors. It comes down to penalties. It comes down to those things that really are the result of things that you can control."
Those also are things that come down to coaching.
An expected change in the offensive play-calling will result in a higher percentage of running plays, which makes perfect sense against a Green Bay defense that is the NFL's worst against the run by a wide margin.
The Packers' struggles to defend the run were evident in their Week 4 victory over the Bears in which they allowed 235 yards on the ground.
The Packers also rank 30th of 32 teams, allowing 4.78 yards per run. The Bears averaged 5.7 yards on their 41 rushes but still got blown out 38-17, as the defense allowed 5 touchdowns and a field goal on the Packers' first six possessions.
An even better reason to hand the ball to Matt Forte is quarterback Jay Cutler's 67.0 career passer rating against Green Bay, the result of 19 interceptions and 13 TD passes in 10 games.
Forte had by far his most productive rushing day of the season against the Packers, picking up 122 yards on 23 carries for a 5.3-yard average, all season bests.
The Bears' ever-changing offensive line is expected to trot out its sixth different starting five Sunday.
Jordan Mills moves from right tackle to left guard to take the place of Matt Slauson, who is on injured reserve with a torn chest muscle. In that scenario, utility man Michael Ola will start his second game at right tackle after starting three games at left guard and two at left tackle earlier this season because of injuries.
"He's starting to get comfortable in that position," Trestman said of the NFL rookie who played two seasons in the Canadian Football League. "We haven't locked in anything. We did work Jordan at (left) guard (Monday) and thought it went well for the first time around.
"He's a versatile athlete. He's got strong hands. He's obviously a large man. The integrity of the pocket is so important, having a man of that size ready to hold it down is something we want to look into, so that's where we are."
Defensively, left end Lamarr Houston is finished for the season, but that should be more than offset by the return of linebackers Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic, each having missed the previous three games.
Houston's season-ending, self-inflicted knee injury means more playing time for Willie Young, the Bears' defensive MVP thus far.
Young leads the team with 7 sacks and is second with 30 solo tackles, an amazing number for a defensive lineman, especially one who was the No. 3 defensive end and a backup for the first half of the season.
"I'll just keep bringing the pain, baby," Young said. "That's all. Ain't nothing more to it. I'm going to just keep doing what I do. What I bring to the table is what I bring. (But) I think I've got a little bit more."
The Bears could use it.
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