The Chicago Bears have the 22nd-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, which is truly unacceptable considering the talent level on that side of the ball. The club has six Pro Bowlers on offense, yet they are 15th in total offense, 12th in passing and 24th in rushing.
During the current three-game losing streak, the offense has scored just one touchdown in the three first halves combined. As a result, Chicago has summarily fallen into deep holes, from which they’ve been unable to climb out.
It’s a scenario that has left the offensive coaching staff searching for answers.
“It’s a case where we’re in a situation where success is going to breed success and failure is going to breed failure,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said today. “What we have to do is we have to have a good play, we have to have a good block, we have to have a good play, then another good play, then a good drive, then a touchdown drive, then do it again. That’s where I’m saying success will breed success.
“When we stub our toe on the first drive, and then we’re down, we’ve got to just focus on: what is our job and what do we need to do individually? We’re making a big emphasis on taking care of your own business and just focusing on that. What am I doing? What am I putting on tape? What am I doing in the game? And then you get 11 guys doing that and you’re going to have success on the play. That’s the situation we’re in right now.”
The situation is ugly. The 3-6 Bears have very little hope of making the playoffs, which has sapped the team of confidence. That has shown up on the field the past two weeks, during which the Packers and Patriots have outscored the Monsters of the Midway 106-41.
The lack of focus on both sides of the ball has been evident during the blowout losses, which is why the Bears are approaching this week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings on a play-by-play basis.
“Sometimes we’re letting the situation of the game effect how we play as opposed to just playing football,” Kromer said. “[We need to] go out there, when we get the ball back, let’s play our football and let’s do our job on that individual play and we’ll have success with the play.”
The hope is that by doing that, the team can begin to gain back the confidence that has been lost the past three weeks.
“Success will breed success and it doesn't take more than one play. One play will do it and you feel good about it,” said Kromer. “We're talking a lot about things that are just basics when we say confidence. We're saying that we know the guy is going to be where he's supposed to be when we throw the ball. We know that the blocking is going to be done in front of him and we know that the quarterback is going to deliver the ball where he's supposed to deliver it. When you execute at that level you have confidence.
“We need to block out everything else and a play is called in the huddle, you're going onto the field for the next drive, you're going to get a football play called and follow your rules and run the play and don't worry about anything else, whether it be the noise or a thought of the last play or the play that's going to be the next. Just worry about that one play.”
There’s no doubt Chicago’s offense is talented but the lack of playmaking has been startling this year, considering the wealth of playmakers on the roster. This is a unit that last season was fifth in the NFL in passing and second in points scored. The potential is there but the Bears just haven’t found that spark to ignite this unit into productivity.
“Whenever you are losing, your confidence is going to be a little bit lower,” Jay Cutler said. “I think earlier in the week and throughout the week you've got to gain confidence for the game. If you go into the game with low confidence, you don't have a chance in this league. We probably, as an offense and as a whole, have to get some plays going, get some drives going and we can build on that for sure.
“I've got to help with that. We talked about that yesterday, just getting some energy out there. If things aren't going well on Sunday, someone's going to have to say something. If we have to say something in the huddle and get some guys going because we've got some good guys in our huddle. We like our group, we feel like we should be able to move the ball better, so whatever we need to do.”
Going forward, there’s the belief at Halas Hall that a few good plays will lead to a few good drives, which will lead to a few good wins. If the offense can find its rhythm in the second half, they could carry the team to a late-season win streak which, at the very least, will give them momentum heading into next season.
“It goes back to the confidence question and us just getting some confidence and stringing together drives, getting some good plays. You know first down after first down,” Cutler said. “You start getting on a little bit of a roll and you forget about some of the bad games we've had in the past.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.