By Chris Emma–
(CBS) It can only get better for the Bears, right? Well, maybe not.
Following Monday’s disappointing loss to the Eagles, in which a long list of players were injured, the battered Bears faced a short week of preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys in Dallas.
The Bears return to the primetime spotlight now 0-2 and looking for some positives. They’ll do so with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer likely leading the charge, unless Jay Cutler’s thumb can heal faster than a miracle. Adding to that, 14 more players were listed on the injury report.
Hopes are bleak as the Bears travel back to Texas. Can they turn the season in a winning direction?
Here’s what to watch for:
Running man challenge
Remember general manager Ryan Pace’s vote of confidence in his young running backs? It came back in March, when he stated his belief in Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey, letting Matt Forte walk from the organization in free agency.
Two games into the season, the Bears have yet to establish a running game. Langford is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, and the team has posted a 3.6 average. Suddenly, rookie Jordan Howard is looking like the back with the most upside.
With Hoyer at the helm for the Bears, a running game is desperately needed to get the Dowell Loggains offense moving.
Crossing the line?
The Cowboys boast the NFL’s best offensive line. They have elite linemen with have continuity, creating a dominant unit.
On the other hand, the Bears have struggled. Their best lineman, guard Kyle Long, is playing through a shoulder injury and struggling.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I can do a lot better,” Long said, still not making excuses for his injury.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Long is the least of their problems on the line. Bobby Massie has struggled a great deal at right tackle, while Cody Whitehair and Josh Sitton are still settling in together on the line’s interior.
Through two weeks, the Bears offensive line has struggled to open holes and protect the quarterback. It didn’t come as a surprise when Cutler got banged up after all the hits he took.
If the Bears want to get their offense moving, they need to improve their line play.
The second verse hasn’t been the same as the first for these Bears.
In two games, the Bears have been outscored 33-7 in the second half — that one score coming on a beautifully executed punt return for a touchdown by Eddie Royal.
The Bears have allowed their opponents to dominate time of possession in both games, with their defense on the field for more than 36 minutes each time. It should come as no surprise that the defense has worn down twice.
Sunday must bring something different for the Bears. The offense has to sustain drives, and the defense must find its way off the field.
If not, we’ll see the same result from the Bears. They haven’t been good so far.