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Bears seek balance on offense with Lions up next

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos)

The Chicago Bears seem to be finding their offense in pieces.

Matt Forte rushed for 205 yards last week as the Bears beat Carolina. Trouble was Chicago has sunk to 25th in passing at 211.5 yards per game and quarterback Jay Cutler has dropped to 26th in passer rating at 77.8.

The Bears have spent most of the season trying to strike the proper balance - and they aren't there yet.

''Looking at our offense right now, we need to get more from our passing game,'' coach Lovie Smith said as the Bears (2-2) prepared for Monday night's game at Detroit (4-0).

''I'm pleased with how we're protecting the football and some of those things like that,'' Smith said. ''But there will come a time when we're going to have to do a better job of passing the ball, and we will.''

Cutler had said it takes about ''five or six weeks'' for a passing offense to click, but he hedged on that this week.

''It could be 10, I don't know,'' Cutler said. ''It could be two years.''

After starting the season with a 22-for-32 effort for 312 yards in a win over Atlanta, Cutler has gone just 49 of 99 for 648 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Injuries to the offensive line haven't helped. Three different combinations have started in front of Cutler and there could be a fourth against the Lions because guard Lance Louis took snaps at right tackle as a possible replacement for struggling tackle Frank Omiyale.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice said Omiyale needs to play better.

''You try to minimize the amount of bad plays you have in succession,'' Tice said. ''So that's what we're trying to do with Frank is we're trying to keep his bad plays to sporadic as opposed to back to back.''

Even with the shuffling on the line, Cutler has been sacked just four times the past two games. He has been looking at shorter passes without finding anyone downfield. In the last three games, Bears wide receivers have caught 26 passes, just five more total than Forte.

Wide receiver Roy Williams said it doesn't matter which area of the offense gets emphasized as long as the Bears can run and pass.

''Let's just go out there and play ball and try to take advantage of the things that they are weak on on defense,'' he said. ''Every defense has a weakness. It's just our job to explore it.''

Cutler said the offense can't focus entirely on the passing game after Forte's breakout performance against the Panthers.

''We still want to get Matt his touches,'' Cutler said.

Beyond the numbers, the offense has appeared uncertain on the field. Last week they used a couple timeouts trying to straighten out player assignments.

''I don't know what all the timeouts were for,'' offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. ''Any time you burn a timeout here, though, there's a reason for it. When we take a timeout, we have to take the timeout. Something happened. Last week we had injuries and so Lance was playing four positions. He forgot where he was. We just ran out of players. OK, you play here, you go run in and do that. It's one of those deals that happens.''

Martz hasn't lost confidence in Cutler.

''He played exceptionally well in that opener,'' Martz said. ''We've had some things happen to us. I look forward to the rest of the year with where he's headed. I know what he's capable of doing, what we're capable of doing with Jay. That's our focus. We think the world of him. We think he's an elite player.''

Tagged: Bears, Frank Omiyale, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Lance Louis

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