MINNEAPOLIS -- I spent a good portion of my upcoming game column examining how and why Brett Favre picked apart Chicago’s defense. But we shouldn’t allow the Bears off the hook for an atrocious offensive performance as well.
Chicago held the ball for only 19:05 of the game, managing eight first downs and 169 total yards. All were season lows. ESPN Stats & Information reports that nearly a third of the Bears’ total plays went for zero or negative yardage (12 of 38). That figure included seven of their 12 plays in the second half.
“You saw it,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “Didn’t get a lot done.”
I walked away thinking that quarterback Jay Cutler was to blame for a minimum of the Bears’ offensive problems. There’s little doubt he underthrew receiver Johnny Knox in the end zone for his first interception, but that was the only glaring mistake I saw.
More problematic was the Bears’ decision to concede the running game before kickoff, naming Frank Omiyale their starting left guard over Josh Beekman. Omiyale is a marginally better pass- blocker but has struggled in run sets. Very predictably, the Bears called for a pass on 21 of their first 26 plays. For the game, tailback Matt Forte rushed for 27 yards on eight carries.
“It’s easy to look at the quarterback and blame the quarterback or whatever you want to blame,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner told reporters. “But everybody has to execute. If one guy doesn’t do it, it’s tough for any quarterback to execute and that’s kind of been the story of what we’ve had.”
No one knows what the Bears’ endgame will be, but I have a hard time believing Turner will be back as offensive coordinator. That seems a given. The bigger question now is what will happen to the bigger fish.
My feeling for most of the past month has been that Chicago wouldn’t pay Smith some $11 million to walk out the door. But Sunday marked another all-around embarrassment. It was the Bears’ third loss by 20 or more points in the past six weeks. A midseason slump has become a flat-out trend in Chicago. Will anyone -- besides Turner -- pay for it?