By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
Anytime, now, coach.
Let’s pop open that “toolbox of concepts” you describe, and pull out the magic wrench that tightens this thing up. Or we can choose one of the “systems of football” that creates some sustained rhythm while the game is still being contested.
The overall numbers look fine – impressive even — but too much is being accomplished after your opponent has seized control, and is content to sit back and let the Bears’ offense pile up meaningless chunks of yards that lead to late points, merely to allow Robbie Gould to fail to execute an onside kick.
There are tendencies on film, now. More every week, providing teams with an educated approach.
Brandon Marshall will be bracketed, and Jay Cutler will be pressured into quick decisions that can result in risky, back-foot throws that create ripe opportunity for takeaways. Multiple blitz schemes will continue to test the crisis communication skills of a remodeled offensive line.
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No question the crumbling defense shares blame for the consecutive defeats, and nothing suggests improvement will be easy. The overmatched safeties are what they are, and the continued need to play recent civilians at both tackle and end doesn’t bode well. The slim margin for error, though, will only ask more from your side of the ball.
For the Bears to accomplish anything of significance, more points have to come when it still matters, particularly against the specific gameplans designed to stop them. That was the whole idea behind the reconstruction of the line and the acquisition of Martellus Bennett, to stress a defense’s resources with multiple weapons, particularly in the passing game. Somebody is supposed to be open.
It just still looks loose and unbalanced too often, even as Alshon Jeffery is setting a single-game franchise record with 218 receiving yards and Cutler is posting a passer-efficiency rating of 128.1. A hurried Cutler still reverts to slipshod mechanics, forcing balls that a smart, disciplined team will anticipate and intercept.
Point is, there will need to be more points. No one asks for perfection, expecting a finely-tuned West Coast machine in the first year of operation, but the actual production must be better than this, especially if the very real defensive problems persist or worsen.
There’s another area, too, where the Bears may need some of your new-age wisdom right away. Brandon Marshall had expressed frustration last week over the number of opportunities he was getting, after wondering aloud about his role in offense back in August. He sounded no happier after his four catches for 30 yards Sunday, and has an established track record of needing special attention. It’s part of the reason why two teams have already soured on him despite his obvious talent and effectiveness.
He believes that his past problems stem from Borderline Personality Disorder, but knowing the cause of the behavior does not mean the behavior needn’t be managed carefully if you see any signs that it may reoccur.
You moved lockers around to facilitate relationships, urged bonding over lunches and spoke openly about playing for each other and making sacrifices for the greater good. In other words, selflessness over selfishness, and no pouting.
There’s a game Thursday night, and no time to lose. You were hired for a time like this.
An inefficient offense needs to be stabilized and streamlined enough to start putting up the bigger numbers now needed, and consecutive losses must not be allowed to fray the team unity you hold dear.
Your job just started for real.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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