Roberto Garza sounded frustrated but hopeful when discussing last weekend's loss to Green Bay.
"In a way, it was very simple," he said. "They got drives going and then sustained them. We weren't able to do that."
A look at the statistics from last week would support Garza's blunt assessment. The Bears had 12 first downs against the Packers, fewer than the 18 they had in New Orleans and the 17 amassed against the Falcons.
Rushing the ball was a nightmare scenario. Against Atlanta, the Bears had 88 yards, against the Saints 60 yards, but only 13 against Green Bay. Last weekend, the Bears converted on third down 25 percent of the time. It was an improvement over the 16-percent conversion rate in New Orleans but not a respectable number by any stretch of the imagination.
C Roberto Garza
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
The spotlight has been on the offensive line since the start of training camp and shines even brighter now after two straight losses. The front five has had to deal with more injuries in the first three weeks of the season than they did almost all of last year. Right guard Lance Louis and right tackle Gabe Carimi are both currently sidelined, thrusting Frank Omiyale and Chris Spencer, a career center, into starting duty. For a line that carried over just one starter at the same position from last season, more shuffling isn't helping them build continuity.
"We've had different guys in there at different times, depending on our need," Garza said. "I see inconsistencies when I watch game film, and that is part of the reason for that. It takes a while to get comfortable in any given position. But what I see is every single guy out there playing his hardest. It isn't a lack of effort or desire on anybody's part, but mistakes are being made. We're working now on correcting that."
Yet Garza knows as well as anyone that if the running game stays stagnant, the offense will not be able to produce at a high level.
"We need to get that going immediately," he said. "We've got good running backs but we need to make holes for them to get open. Thirteen rushing yards is just embarrassing. We need to see the running backs out there in the open and heading down the field. That's how you sustain drives."
For Garza, a team captain, it's all about perception.
"We don't want to look bad. We want to win. We want our identity to be a positive one, to show what kind of a team we really are. It starts with each and every one of us. The film shows that there's definitely room for improvement. Our goal is to pick things up and get measurably better each week."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.