On the Job Training

Lake Forest – While there is plenty of blame to go around for the offensive struggles in Chicago, the attention will continue to be focused on Kyle Orton until the rookie quarterback makes the opposing defense pay for crowding the line of scrimmage.

The Bears running game went nowhere against the Redskins, totaling 41 yards on 18 carries. It was their lowest rushing output since Game 4 of last season, when the Bears managed just 32 yards on the ground vs. Philadelphia.

It's difficult to run against eight men in the box, something Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson will face until Orton starts making plays down field.

`` We got to find something to do, we can't let teams load up eight in the box and you know and expect to be able to run the football," Orton said.

The lack of respect for the passing game has a lasting effect. Averaging 2.3 yards per carry leads to third and longs, which allows the defense to turn their attention on Orton or drop back extra men in coverage to confuse him.

Orton finished his debut 15-of-28 for 141 yards with one costly interception. The pick was a result of him trying to force the ball into triple coverage.

The picks are going to come, but it's the timing of his decisions that will have to improve. When a target is open an inexperienced quarterback will tend to hesitate for a split second, which can mean the difference between a completion and the receiver being a laid out by a defender.

Such was the case when Orton tried to go to Muhsin Muhammad over the middle of the field. Muhammad was open before Orton threw the ball and when the pass hung in the air it allowed the Washington secondary to put a big hit on him and jar the ball loose.

Joey Harrington, who was the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, started 12 games as a rookie. He can remember having everything down mentally in practice, but when it came down to executing the play in a game the picture got a bit cloudy.

"I knew where everybody was going. I had it locked in my mind," Harrington said. "And at the snap of the ball everything happened like I thought it would. I looked off (the defenders) and I came back and I threw a perfect strike to my guy coming in and Rod Woodson stepped in front and picked it off.

"And afterwards I went up to him and I asked him how did you get that. I knew what coverage you were in, I knew where everybody was going, that was the perfect route for it. He said, "Son I've seen that route everyday in practice and I've seen it every Sunday for 12 years, you're not going to fool me on that."

In other words, nothing can replace experience. If something works in practice it increases the chances it succeed in the game, but is by no means a guarantee.

"Not all of football in the NFL is drawn up like it is on paper," Harrington said.

If there is such a thing as a must win in the second week of the season, Sunday's game against the Lions would qualify. Not only would a win put the Bears in a tie for first place in the NFC North, but it would also give the team a much needed confidence boost.

Orton will have a chance to get his bearings against a Detroit defense that is not expected to blitz as much as Washington did in the opener. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron prefers to get pressure from his front four. The Lions d-line sacked Brett Favre three times in holding the Packers without a touchdown for the first time in 77 games.

"They got a great defensive line and that's probably the best thing about their defense is their defensive line," Orton said.

The offense will have the benefit of working in front of a partisan crowd. After the Bears had moved the ball as far as the Washington 34 with a chance to kick a field to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, a veteran o-line had three consecutive false start penalties.

Head coach Lovie Smith has made no secret that he's frustrated by the amount of penalties the team had in the preseason and the eight flags they drew in the season opener. However, he feels the problem will be corrected in short order.

"Normally there's a big improvement from Game 1 to 2 and that's what we're banking on, that we'll make the necessary adjustments from that," Smith said.

The problem with the theory is they're saying the same thing in Detroit. The question is will the Bears progress be enough to counteract that of the Lions.


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