Stuck in a Rut

Coordinator Terry Shea was alternately perplexed, disappointed, frustrated and determined on Monday as he attempted to explain the many shortcomings of the Bears' NFL-worst offense.

There are those in the Bears' organization who believe Shea could be fired at the end of this season, critics have speculated for the last few weeks about his job security, and he has been made a scapegoat by some. But Shea said he wasn't concerned about being replaced after just one season.

"I would say I'm more concerned about the Lions, and I'm more concerned about the Packers right now," Shea said. "I'm a coach who's been in (this) career for quite a while, so, no, I am not (worried)."

A testy coach Lovie Smith chose not to dwell on the damning statistics and offensive failures and how they reflected on Shea.

"It is what it is," Smith said. "I think there are a lot of reasons for it. That's where we are. We know where we are, and we can only go one direction from there, and that's all we're doing."

According to Shea, injuries, personnel and lack of execution and continuity have all been contributing factors in burying his offense at or very near the bottom of the NFL in almost every offensive category. Shea said he looks wistfully at the explosive offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was quarterbacks coach the last three years, and envisions the Bears having the same sort of attack in the future.

"I see my former team scoring over 31 points a game and I say, 'That's got to be us,' " he said. "Some way, somehow, we've got to develop that kind of a culture here. And we will. That's my job as the leader of this offense."

But the Bears are a long way from being compared favorably to the Chiefs. Shea's offense has failed to score a touchdown in the last eight quarters, three of the last four games, four of the last six games and five games overall.

The first-time NFL offensive coordinator initially said he wanted to wait until the end of the season to name the areas in which the Bears needed personnel upgrades, but he mentioned one glaring weakness.

"I watch ourselves at times, and then late at night I'll flip on another team and watch them," Shea said. "We don't seem to have the quickness, the fast-twitch movement that some of these other offenses have around the NFL. That may have to improve, obviously, and that would allow our running game to get a little bit better and obviously the other parts of the game."

The lack of game-breaking speed at wide receiver was overshadowed in the past by the presence of Marty Booker, who was a legitimate go-to receiver despite average speed. After Booker's trade to the Miami Dolphins for Adewale Ogunleye on Aug. 21, the Bears were left with no go-to receivers, and the only pass catcher on the team with better-than-average speed is inconsistent rookie Bernard Berrian, who has 12 receptions.

Shea said he didn't overestimate the talent level on offense and that unrestricted-free-agent additions such as tackle John Tait and running back Thomas Jones have been valuable and will continue to pay dividends in the future. But more talent is needed.

"I just tried to make sure we had the right pieces, and we still need a few more," Shea said. "We can do some pretty good things. Right now I think our overall offense lacks a little continuity in terms of personnel; we all could chronicle some of the guys who are not playing. If you look to the bright side of things, I think there are some pretty exciting things ahead as this young group starts to develop."

But patience has already run out on Shea in many circles. In the two games since the 24-14 victory over the Vikings and in the game before that victory, his offense has scored a total of six points.

Smith believes that too much of the criticism for his team's offensive failures has been directed toward Shea.

"I think that goes with the territory," Smith said. "Normally when things are going bad, you're going to look first at the head coach, which you should. The way it normally goes, you look to the offensive coordinator and the quarterback most of the time. We realize that's just how it is.

"Terry Shea is doing a good job, and he's had to go through an awful lot -- losing your quarterback right away and all the other different people that he's had to adjust with on that side of the ball. We've been in wars like this before, and we'll come out swinging."

And Shea might need a knockout to silence talk about his job security.

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