Bears says balance not issue against Packers
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)
The way coach Lovie Smith sees it, there's a simple reason the Chicago Bears again lacked balance on offense.
They had to pass in Sunday's 27-17 loss to Green Bay because they couldn't get their run game going and were playing from behind.
Even so, the statistics are hard to ignore: The Bears finished with 13 yards rushing, third fewest in franchise history, on 12 attempts. That includes a scramble and two fumble recoveries by Cutler, who was also 21 of 37 while getting sacked three times, meaning the Bears called 43 passes and nine runs.
That comes on the heels of an ugly loss to New Orleans in which Chicago called for 52 passes and 11 runs. Smith made it clear last week that he wanted more balance, but he had no issue with Sunday's plan.
''I said that last week, I thought it was a totally different situation in the game and we needed to run the football more,'' Smith said Monday. ''I can't say that yesterday. I think we did what we needed to do on a day like that, when the run's not working, start throwing the football. I talked about the protection being pretty good. We had a couple of drops. We missed a couple throws but that's how that game went.''
It was a bad day all around for the Bears, and the good will they earned with a dominant opening win over Atlanta continued to disappear.
The defense couldn't contain the Packers and the offense struggled on the ground and in the air.
Cutler got enough protection from the line after getting sacked six times the previous week but was still out of sync, starting the third quarter with six straight incompletions.
He targeted Roy Williams four times but failed to connect, with two of those passes being picked off by Packers safety Morgan Burnett on balls that appeared overthrown - a deep throw early on and another one over the middle in the fourth quarter.
''We know as receivers, the more we can do in the passing game, the more it's going to open things up for Matt (Forte) in the running game,'' Dane Sanzenbacher said.
When the Bears tried to run, they were fortunate when they didn't lose yards. Forte found no room and wound up with just two yards on nine carries - six for losses. He ran three times in the third quarter and not once in the fourth with the Packers in control and the Bears trying to get back in it.
Even though Green Bay allowed Drew Brees and Cam Newton to each throw for more than 400 yards, it still was somewhat surprising the Bears weren't a little more balanced. Sure, offensive coordinator Mike Martz likes to throw, but he's always quick to praise Forte. Plus, there was that message from Smith last week. But through Sunday, Forte ranked 28th in rushing attempts per game at 11.7.
''You look at the stats and it's not very favorable on the offensive side,'' Cutler said. ''If you're going to be third-and-6 and third-and-7-plus, it's tough. Almost a must-throw situation right there, and they are looking to drop eight guys, nine guys and there aren't a lot of holes. That happened to us.''
What's been happening to the Bears lately isn't good.
Through Sunday, they ranked 23rd in yards per game (304.7), 31st in yards rushing (53.7), 29th in time of possession (26:32) and 29th in third-down percentage (28).
It's not easy to do much behind a line that was 31st and tied for the league lead with 14 sacks allowed. Making matters more difficult, the Bears were missing both starters on the right side, with guard Lance Louis (ankle) and tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) sidelined.
''I don't think we need to go back to the drawing board,'' Smith said. ''As you work the numbers, we lost two games where we didn't run the football. Don't take everything in. You have to look at each game individually. We didn't run the ball enough, we didn't have enough rushes a week ago. I'm OK on the first game and the last game on what we had to do to win the football game. When you get behind you're going to do whatever you need to do to win the game.''