Bears Lack Arsenal of Offensive Weapons
(Players must step up if the Bears expect to make the playoffs)
Last Sunday, the Bears fell to the Minnesota Vikings 21-14 in another sloppily played game. The Chicago Bears have now dropped 4 of their last five games, slimming their playoff hopes significantly. Two disturbing trends have transpired over the last five weeks. First, Jay Cutler often times unnecessarily forces the ball to Brandon Marshall. Second, the lack of a second offensive threat.
Jay Cutler constantly forces the ball into Brandon Marshall. Yes, Brandon Marshall is a huge, dynamic receiver who goes up and makes plays on the ball, but Cutler can’t bypass other open receivers and force the ball to Marshall despite double, even triple coverage. Forty seven percent of the Chicago Bears completed passes have gone to Brandon Marshall. Fifty three percent of Cutler’s total yardage has gone to Marshall. So what does this all mean? First, Cutler obviously forces the ball to Marshall and needs to spread the wealth. Second, other players on the Bears need to step up in order for the Bears to be successful. In our five losses this year, Brandon Marshall only has two touchdowns. In these losses nobody else is stepping up and that is our problem.
So who needs to step up? For starters Hester. In the phase of the game where he shines, the return game, he has produced zero touchdowns this year. He only has 23 receiving receptions this year and has contracted the drop plague. Earl Bennett is the same way, a couple weeks ago against the Seahawks he dropped a critical pass that would have been a touchdown had it been caught. Bennett also has an unimpressive 23 receptions for only 250 yards. In my opinion, the Bears most capable receiver, excluding Marshall, is Alshon Jeffrey. Unfortunately, injuries have hampered Jeffrey’s production this year. But even if he is playing, he won’t be able to be productive if Cutler continues to throw so many passes to Marshall.
One of the most disconcerting aspects of the Bears this year is the statistically inferior running game. The Bears have failed to have a 100 yard rusher since week 5 against the weakness known as the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is extremely disappointing considering the capabilities of Matt Forte and the off-season acquirement of Michael Bush. In the last five games, the Bears have only averaged 88.5 yards on the ground. Traditionally, the Bears strong suit is their running game. It is compulsory for the Bears to re-establish the running game because this will take loads of pressure off of Cutler, while opening up the pass game with the play action fake.
The Chicago Bear’s window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl is not getting any larger. The defense is playing on an elite level which will prove unsustainable in the coming years due to the inevitable aging process affecting our star players. The time to win is now. All of the pieces are there, but I can’t see the Bears making the playoffs without another offensive playmaker emerging. Cutler constantly passing the ball to Marshall has made the Bears a one-dimensional team that opposing teams can easily prepare for. Eventually, teams are going to realize that doubling Marshall will severely hurt the Bear’s offensive production. When this happens, will somebody else be able to step up to compensate for less production by Marshall? This question could very well determine if the Bears make the playoffs this year.