Once the Chicago Bears' offense got warmed up in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Packers, it worked just fine. But it took way too long to get going at the start of the game and after halftime.
The Bears were dead even with the Packers in the second quarter, when both teams scored 10 points; and in the fourth quarter, when they each had seven.
In the first and third quarters, the Bears' offense was atrocious. It had seven possessions, and six ended with punts, four of which came after just three plays. The other possession ended after just one play when Jay Cutler was intercepted.
While the Bears rolled up a total of 259 yards in the second and fourth quarters, they had just 26 yards in the first and third quarters combined, when they ran 25 plays.
RB Matt Forte
"We didn't start out fast," coach Lovie Smith said. "We got ourselves in a hole right away and weren't able to get out of it. When you play a great team, play the Super Bowl champs, you can't do that, and we're going to all, of course, take blame for it. We did have a good week of practice. I thought we were ready, but you have to show up on game day, and we didn't."
The third quarter was one of the Bears' worst offensive displays in recent memory. They ran 15 plays, which gained a total of two yards. Throw in Devin Hester's false-start penalty, and the Bears actually moved backward three yards in the third quarter.
The failure to generate any kind of offensive consistency in the first and third quarters was responsible for the huge discrepancy in time of possession, as the Packers controlled the ball for 37:29 to the Bears' 22:31, allowing Green Bay to run 69 plays to the Bears' 52.
There's no way to pinpoint the cause of the offensive impotency in the first and third quarters, only because the Bears did so many things poorly on Sunday.
"It's just not that simple," Smith said. "There are a lot of things that go into (it). Making plays on first down, second down, third down. I can't give you a simple answer to that. (We) just have to get positive plays to keep things going. I think we can figure it out from there."
Failures on first down would be a good place to start. The offense's production on nine first-down plays during those seven futile possessions in the first and third quarters produced a total of minus-3 yards and an interception. There was also a pair of false-start penalties on first down.
But no critique of the Bears' offense would be complete without mention of the continuing abandonment of the run game. In back-to-back losses the past two weeks, offensive coordinator Mike Martz has called for 97 passes and 20 runs. But Smith wasn't as displeased with the 45-9 pass-run ratio vs. the Packers because of the total failure of the run game.
"Of course, we didn't have a lot of balance," Smith said. "But we weren't able to run the football as well as we would like early on, and then, when you get behind ... We did what we needed to do on a day like that. (The) run is not working, (so) start throwing the football. I talked about protection being pretty good. (But) we had a couple drops, we missed a couple throws, but that's how that game went."
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