Bears' struggling offense faces Colts' slumping D
Chicago Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman does not need to study film to learn the strengths of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
After all, Freeman spent the previous four seasons as Luck's teammate with the Colts.
"I really think he's one of those once-in-a-generation type players," said Freeman, who signed with the Bears as a free agent during the offseason. "Talking to him, you realize he's one of the smartest people you'll ever be around. His athletic ability, his arm and everything, I think highly of him.
"He's definitely going to be tough. They can be down 30, and -- trust me, I know -- those guys over there think they always have a chance if they've got (No.) 12 back there."
Granted, odds are slim that either team will build a 30-point lead when the Bears (1-3) visit the Colts (1-3) on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Neither team's start to the season has gone as planned, and both sides need a win to climb toward .500 and prevent their playoff chances from diminishing even further.
Indianapolis is averaging 27 points per game, which ranks No. 7 in the NFL. Defense is another story, as the Colts are allowing 31.3 points per game, third worst in the league.
On offense, Chicago is managing only 15.5 points a game, which is tied with the Tennessee Titans for worst in the NFL. The Bears' defense is allowing 24.3 points a game, which ranks No. 19.
Chicago is coming off its first win of the season, a 17-14 decision over the Detroit Lions. However, the victory carried a heavy price as wide receiver Kevin White, the team's 2015 first-round pick, broke his left fibula and badly sprained his left ankle. White missed all of last season because of injuries to the same leg.
White joins a long list of injured Bears teammates that includes quarterback Jay Cutler (thumb), running back Jeremy Langford (ankle) and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle). One starter who could return is linebacker Danny Trevathan, who missed the past two games because of a thumb injury.
If Cutler is unable to play, veteran Brian Hoyer would make his third consecutive start. Hoyer faced the Colts last season while with the Houston Texans. He threw for 312 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 27-20 loss.
"When you look at them defensively, they have the guys," Hoyer said of the Texans. "I think numbers can be deceiving at times."
Like the Bears, the Colts know all about aches and pains, but their biggest problem might be bruised feelings after entering the season with high hopes. The team released two defensive starters -- linebacker Sio Moore and cornerback Antonio Cromartie -- following an ugly 30-27 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week in London.
In the past, the Colts prevented bad games from transforming into long losing streaks. The organization is 18-7 in the first game after a loss under coach Chuck Pagano.
"Everybody's going to have an opinion, and that's great," Luck said. "But we know we just have to execute better. Whatever's called, we've got to run it better.
"I think there's a human tendency to (want) change, change, change. We know you can't afford to do that in the NFL. There's no cutting everything and throwing it out. It's double down on fundamentals, technique and execution."
In the Colts' backfield, running back Frank Gore needs 20 rushing yards to surpass Jim Brown (12,312) for No. 9 on the NFL's all-time list. Gore's next touchdown will tie him with Terry Allen (73) for 27th in history.
As Gore aims for milestones, Bears running back Jordan Howard is preparing for the second start of his career. The fifth-round pick out of Indiana was terrific in his first start one week ago as he ran for 111 yards on 23 carries. With 178 rushing yards on the season, Howard trails only the Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott among rookies.
Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones would like to prevent Howard from enjoying an encore performance. Jones rejoined his teammates this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
"I've been working, though," Jones said. "It's not like I've just been sitting on the couch. ...
"We grind every single day. I had a couple guys to work out with. Whenever they tell me my time is right to be on the field, I'll be ready to go."