Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith isn't in the apology business. He made that very clear today in regard to his team's 6-1 record, despite a game on Sunday the Bears had no business winning.
"You just have to be thrilled about any win you get, even when you don't play your best ball," Smith said. "We realize we didn't play our best ball but we're not going to apologize for the win. We're going to take it. We like the 6-1 record."
The Bears sit atop the NFC North by two games over both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Yet detractors have pointed out the club's soft schedule to start the 2012 season, as well as the anemic performance of the offense on Sunday. Many believe Chicago is not as good as its record indicates.
With a minute left in the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers, Chicago's offense had just 60 total yards. They had also given up six sacks and turned the ball over three times. Jay Cutler and company came alive in the fourth quarter though, helping the team a 23-22 victory. Yet the lack of consistency on offense, particularly with Cutler, is worrisome.
"Our offense has allowed us to get to 6-1. A 6-1 record," Smith said. "I think you have to be careful when you say ‘further along' and yardage and all those things. I mean you're looking at the wrong thing. [We are] looking at ball security and each week. What do we need our offense to do in order for us to win the football game? And I've been pleased with that, or we wouldn't have six wins."
The Bears have one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL in Matt Forte. Yet in yesterday's game he only carried the ball 15 times, with coordinator Mike Tice repeatedly forgetting about his best offensive player.
"I think when you have a special player like [Forte], of course we need to get him the ball more," said Smith. "And we'll try that. But you can say that about a few of our players. We need to get them the ball more."
The offensive line has also been a big reason for the stagnant offense. The front five allowed six sacks against Carolina, giving them 11 sacks allowed the last two games combined. That type of protection is hard for any passing attack to overcome.
Still, Smith said the team isn't going to overhaul their system just because of a few poor outings.
"We're not going to change what we believe in or anything like that. We are going to do it better. We're not going to apologize for being 6-1 and not playing our best game and getting a win."
Smith said he has faith that Tice, Cutler and the entire offense will improve to a level of respectability in the near future.
"Are we going to make a jump and will we have to rely on our offense to carry us a few football games and will we be able to do that? Yes," Smith said. "I think that's when you'll really see truly what we are as an offensive team."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.