Bears Inside Slant: October 31

The Bears will use their bye week to evaluate what's been going wrong both from a scheme perspective and the personnel used to execute it, which means there could be some changes on the horizon in the second half of the season. Get the Inside Slant from the NFL experts at

Head coach Lovie Smith says the Bears "get off the bus running the football," but for the sixth straight week the Bears were outrushed by their opponent.

While the Bears were running on fumes (63 yards on 20 carries, 3.2-yard average), the Lions' Kevin Jones pounded out 105 yards on 23 carries and the Lions finished with 119 yards on 28 attempts for a 4.3-yard average.

"Running game-wise, we didn't get anything going," Smith said. "They were able to run the ball on us. We weren't able to run the ball on them. It was one of those days."

There have been a lot of those days this season. In the past six games, the Bears have been outgained on the ground 900 yards to 444. Sounds like someone's getting run over by the bus.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner is not pleased with the running game, but he said that's just one problem on an offense that hasn't played with much consistency all season.

"We're just not executing consistently on offense the way we'd like," Turner said. "In the run game, we are [executing] at times. In the pass game, we are at times. But consistently we're not executing well enough."

Benson's modest 3.8-yard average against the Lions (50 yards on 13 carries) was, unfortunately for the Bears, his second-highest average of the season.

"I'm quite disappointed at the way we've been playing [and the way] I've been playing," said Benson, whose 3.1-yard average is one of the worst in the league. "What it's going to take to get it turned around is everybody's going to look at themselves individually and see what they can do better. I gotta break some more tackles, run more guys over. I don't know, turn into Superman out there."

Digging themselves a 13-0 halftime hole didn't give the Bears many opportunities to run the ball in the second half. They were limited to five running plays while chasing the lead.

"We talk about balance in the running game and passing game, but if we're not scoring points early, we can't keep that balance because the other team is going to score," quarterback Brian Griese said. "If we're not scoring points, we're going to be in a situation where we've got to score two touchdowns in the second half to get back in the game. And if you have to do that, then you're throwing the ball. What happens today, you get a defensive line that's pretty good, and they just pin their ears back and rush and it makes it difficult on everybody. It's just not a good recipe."

The Bears have scored just 10 first-quarter points all season, and the one touchdown was on a Devin Hester punt return. …

WR Devin Hester
Rex Arbogst/AP Images

At 3-5, with the 12th-best record in the 16-team NFC, the Bears' chances of being one of the six playoff teams are slim. With the bye, they have two weeks to prepare for back-to-back road games at Oakland (2-5) and Seattle (4-3).

"We have to get some momentum somehow, but we can't do it if we can't put together two wins in a row," defensive end Alex Brown said. "I don't think we have any more outs left. We have to go 6-2 just to get to 9-7, and then we might get in."

Four of their remaining eight games are against teams with winning records, including road contests vs. the Seahawks and Redskins who are both 4-3. They face the Giants (6-2) and Packers (5-1) at home. …

Rookie tight end Greg Olsen was one of the rare bright spots in the offense with six catches for 59 yards including a 20-yard touchdown, his second of the season. Olsen has at least four catches and 48 yards in the last four games.

"He's coming along [and] getting better every game," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He's going to be a very good player for us, and we'll continue to use him and find [other] ways to use him."

LB Brian Urlacher's arthritic back isn't expected to keep him out of any games, shorten his career or jeopardize the quality of his life in later years, according to Bears coach Lovie Smith, who characterized the pain and discomfort Urlacher feels as similar to what most NFL players have to deal with most of the time. … WR Devin Hester was allowed to field just two punts, but he brought one of them back 39 yards to set up the Bears' only touchdown. He also caught one pass for 19 yards and one short kickoff that he returned 20 yards. … DE Mark Anderson had just one tackle unofficially and was held without a sack for the fourth straight game. … RB Adrian Peterson tied for the team lead with six receptions vs. the Lions for 41 yards and is third on the team with 24 catches. The No. 2 RB is also averaging 4.5 yards on 28 carries. … DE Adewale Ogunleye had his fourth sack, his first in four games, and moved into a second-place tie on the team. … DT Darwin Walker was active – barely – Sunday after missing two weeks with a sprained knee, but he made just one tackle and played only a handful of snaps.

– QB Brian Griese was intercepted four times, with three of the picks coming in the end zone. Two of which were intended for WR Mark Bradley, who had no catches. Bears receivers also dropped several passes, and no one had a longer play than rookie TE Greg Olsen's 20-yard TD. Griese finished with a passer rating of 38.3, by far his worst in five starts.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D – The Bears had their usual 3.2 yards per carry and rushed for only 63 yards, the sixth week in a row they've been outgained on the ground. RB Cedric Benson's pedestrian 3.8-yard average (50 yards on 13 carries) was actually his second best of the season.

PASS DEFENSE: D-plus – Four different players sacked Jon Kitna, but at other times the Lions QB had all day to throw as he completed 24 of 35 passes for 268 yards and a passer rating of 91.1. Four different Lions receivers had catches of more than 20 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus – Kevin Jones ripped off 105 yards on 23 carries (4.6-yard average), including a 34-yard run on which the Bears missed at least two tackles, which was an all-day problem.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C – Devin Hester's 39-yard punt return set up the Bears' only TD, but K Robbie Gould missed a field-goal attempt (from 40 yards) for the second straight week. P Brad Maynard was outstanding with a net average of 44.0 yards, and he dropped three of his five boots inside the 20.

COACHING: D – The team that gets off the bus running couldn't establish a ground game and couldn't stop the Lions from running. In a game that could have turned a disappointing season around, the Bears came out flat and stayed that way throughout.

  • 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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