Hot Topic: Limping Into the Bye Week

Week 8 against the Detroit Lions was supposed to be a must-win game heading into the bye to follow, but the Midway Monsters stunk up Soldier Field for the third consecutive time and are yet to put together back-to-back wins at the midpoint of the 2007 regular season.

With the bye, the Bears will have two weeks to assess blame for a dismal 3-5 first half. It might not be enough time.

Jumping the gun on Halloween, the Bears came to Soldier Field disguised as a playoff-caliber football team in their orange jerseys. But their costumes didn't fool anyone, especially the Detroit Lions, who slapped them around for the second time in four weeks – this time 16-7. The loss left the defending NFC champions for dead at 3-5, 2.5 games behind the 5-2 Lions and 3.5 behind the better-than-expected Green Bay Packers.

The Bears weren't awful on defense, at least not by this year's standards, and their play might have been enough to get them to the 4-4 mark they felt would have put them back in postseason consideration. But the offense, which produced a season-low 255 total yards, was the worst it has been all season – which is saying a lot.

Quarterback Brian Griese, who for the previous three weeks helped stabilize an inconsistent attack, was intercepted four times, giving him 10 in four starts and seven in two games vs. the Lions. Griese had no trouble finding receivers in the end zone, but three of his four passes that were caught there were hauled in by Lions defensive backs.

"It's about turning the football over," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "We have to have better ball security. It's simple. We can't turn the football over. So if that means not throwing in those spots trying to make the big play [and instead] dumping it off, that's a base part of what we do, too."

This wasn't a loss at home against a team with a reputation as road warriors – quite the contrary. The Lions had lost 44 of their previous 51 road games before victimizing the Bears and sending them into their bye week searching for answers.

WR Devin Hester
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At quarterback, they've already benched Rex Grossman in favor of Griese, and the only option left other than going back to Grossman is third-stringer Kyle Orton, who was forced into 15 starts as a rookie in 2005 because of injuries but hasn't thrown a pass since. No one is talking about giving Griese the hook yet, mostly because there are other problems, like a running game that has been outgained for six straight weeks. The Bears rushed for just 63 yards on 20 carries for a 3.2-yard average with a long gain of 12 yards on Sunday.

Several dropped passes – two each by Bernard Berrian and Cedric Benson – didn't help an offense that showed promise in three previous games.

The defense, supposedly the heart and soul of this team and one which led the NFL with 44 takeaways last season, has forced just one turnover in the past three games. The Bears have allowed an average of 395.5 total yards the past four weeks.

"We don't feel like we're a 3-5 team, but we are," defensive end Alex Brown said. "We're 3-5, and it's hard to believe because we have so much talent and so many guys that can play, so many guys from last year's team. But it's not last year. Last year's not going to help us."

News & Notes
MLB Brian Urlacher, who was unofficially credited with just four tackles Sunday, told earlier in the weekend that he has an arthritic back condition. He traveled to Pittsburgh last week to have an MRI there, but head coach Lovie Smith said there's nothing that should keep him from playing on Sundays. … QB Brian Griese was intercepted four times and finished with by far the lowest passer rating of his five starts, 38.3. … DT Tommie Harris had one of the Bears' four sacks, giving him a career- and team-best seven for the season. … TE Greg Olsen tied for the team lead with six catches and had a Bears-best 59 receiving yards, including their only touchdown on a 20-yard reception. … RB Cedric Benson rushed for 50 yards on 13 carries and a long gain of 12 yards. He still doesn't have a run longer than 16 yards this season.

  • Comparing Urlacher to Butkus and Singletary
  • "New" Soldier Field vs. "Old" Soldier Field
  • Reliving the 61-7 win over Green Bay in 1980
  • An excerpt from Cindi Dammann's Tailgating Tales
  • Getting to know LB Jamar Williams

All of that plus much more in the latest issue of ...

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