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Jay Cutler and the depleted Bears' offense struggle in six series

Jay Cutler was quarterback for six possessions on Saturday, five of which ended in a punt. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

CINCINNATI -- Not to make excuses for Jay Cutler, but the Chicago Bears' problems on offense run much deeper than just quarterback.

Chicago's first-team offense accomplished next-to-nothing until Cutler led them on a scoring drive -- Robbie Gould 34-yard field goal -- with under a minute left in the first half.

True to this word, Bears head coach John Fox played Cutler into the third quarter. But on Cutler's lone drive after halftime ... the Bears ... yep ... punted.

Six drives. Five punts.

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the Bears' "first-team" offense.

Minus Alshon Jeffery (calf), Eddie Royal (hip) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring), the Bears began the game trying to emphasize the run, but kept going three-and-out.

To his credit, Cutler rallied the troops late in the half; finding a rhythm with tight end Martellus Bennett, and receivers Rashad Lawrence (Lawrence also had a bad drop earlier in the second quarter) and Marc Mariani.

By that point, however, the Bears were trailing by 21-0.

Imagine if the Bears experience such sluggish starts in regular-season games. If that happens, it's going to be a very, very long year.

On a positive note, Cutler protected the football on Saturday, completing 13 of 17 pass attempts without an interception -- a far cry from 2014 when he led the NFL in turnovers (24).

However, the Bengals sacked Cutler twice in the first half, which continued a disturbing trend.

Teams are hitting Cutler in the preseason.

That's because the Bears offensive line is leaky, at best, with Charles Leno again failing to convince a single person he's the long-term answer at right tackle.

Big picture: the Bears have been plagued by injuries, penalties and missed blocks all summer.

Remember when the offense was supposed to be the strength of the team?

The absolute best case scenario is that all of the banged wideouts (except for Kevin White) return for Week 1 vs. the Green Bay Packers. That very well may happen.

Worst case scenario? Well ... Saturday night was the worst case scenario.