Offense pulling its own weight during four-game win streak
Offense pulling its own weight during four-game win streak
By: Larry Mayer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – After a stifling defense carried the Bears to key victories early in the season, the offense has pitched in to make valuable contributions during the team’s current four-game winning streak.
The latest example of that came Sunday at Soldier Field when Jay Cutler passed for four touchdowns to help the Bears record their highest point total of the year in a 31-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
“To be a Super Bowl-caliber team, you need to be able to play well on both offense and defense,” tight end Greg Olsen said Monday. “For a while around here it’s been pretty well recognized that the defense has been the top dog and really carried this team for a lot of years.
“Offensively, we’ve taken a lot of pride in saying we’re going to be just as good as our defense; we’re going to try to put up as many points as possible and take some of the pressure off them so they don’t feel like they have to win every game.
“When you combine an offense that’s starting to gel and come together with the way our defense has been playing for the most part all season, I think that’s why you can see our success as of late.”
Cutler's four TD passes Sunday came in the first 32 minutes of the game, staking the first-place Bears (8-3) to a 31-13 lead.
"The defense has been playing so well each and every game and holding us in there and really battling, creating a lot of turnovers and getting us good field position, and we’ve kind of squandered some stuff," Cutler said. "For us to go out there and kind of alleviate some of that pressure off of them was good."
After producing only five touchdowns in five games, the Bears offense has generated 11 TDs in four consecutive wins over the Bills, Vikings, Dolphins and Eagles.
“Guys are starting to feel pretty comfortable with what they’re being asked to do and what the idea behind the offense is, all those types of things,” said Olsen, who leads the Bears with five TD receptions.
“It’s a new system; it takes time,” Cutler said. “It takes time for everyone to learn it. It takes time for me to learn it. It takes time for Mike [Martz] to get used to his guys and what we feel comfortable with and what he can and can’t call.”
A key factor in the offense’s resurgence has been a commitment to being more balanced. After rushing for an average of 63.5 yards on 15 carries in back-to-back home losses to the Seahawks and Redskins, the Bears have run for an average of 125.3 yards on 34.3 attempts during their four-game winning streak.
“Being able to establish the run and grind some clock and keep our defense off the field, that all correlates with converting third downs and keeping third downs manageable, and running the ball is a huge part of that,” Olsen said. “I think we’ve had good success running the ball.”
Cutler’s improved performance has also been critical. After throwing one touchdown pass and five interceptions with a 58.2 passer rating in losing three straight starts, he has tossed nine TD passes and three interceptions with a 100.7 passer rating during the four-game winning streak.
Against the Eagles, Cutler again displayed excellent decision-making, accuracy and mobility in recording a career-high 146.2 passer rating.
“Offensively, it starts with Jay,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He played outstanding ball [Sunday]. That’s about the way to describe his game. He’s a mobile, athletic guy. He’s making all of the right decisions.”
Cutler has benefited from better play by the offensive line. The unit has excelled during the four-game winning streak, starting the same players at all five positions: Frank Omiyale at left tackle, Chris Williams at left guard, Olin Kreutz at center, Roberto Garza at right guard and J’Marcus Webb at right tackle.
“We had a problem earlier on with our offensive line and we went to work fixing it,” Smith said. “One thing you can look at a little bit with our offensive line is the same guys have played together for a while. That helps quite a bit to have the same group, especially on the offensive line.
“And then just experience. When you have young players, there is a starting spot. You set the bar and you start working from there, and that’s what we’ve done. Of course, Mike [Tice] has done a super job with the guys and they’ve done a great job of just trying to improve.
“But not just the offensive line. I am going to say that about our entire football team. I mean, we’re getting better. We haven’t peaked yet. I think we’re still rising as far as what we can be.”
The offense has been getting significantly better the past month
Jay Cutler Last 4 Games: 70/111, 63%, 828 Yards, 7.45 YPA, 9 TD, 3 INT & 10 Sacks / 20 Carries, 108 Yards, 5.4 YPC & 0 TD
Matt Forte Last 4 Games: 74 Carries, 332 Yards, 4.4 YPC & 1 TD / 6 Catches, 50 Yards, 8.3 YPC & 0 TD
Johnny Knox Last 4 Games: 16 Catches, 263 Yards, 16.4 YPC & 1 TD
Devin Hester Last 4 Games: 13 Catches, 188 Yards, 14.4 YPC & 1 TD
Earl Bennett Last 4 Games: 12 Catches, 142 Yards, 11.8 YPC & 3 TD
Greg Olsen Last 4 Games: 11 Catches, 110 Yards, 10 YPC & 3 TD
Plus 31/60 51.6% on 3rd Downs & Jay Cutler's QB Rating has jumped to 90.4 right behind Peyton Manning @ 90.8
Everybody is doing their job. Everyone is contributing the past month. The run / pass ratio is 54% Pass v 46% Run which is brilliant balance. The sacks have lessened but it's still a problem. This unit has only played 4 straight games together so I'm going to believe it will get better with more time. I wish that Forte was used as a bigger option in the passing game. He was used a lot in Week 1 & hasn't been used much since as a receiver. He's one of the best receiving backs in the game, hopefully with this upcoming game being the rematch against Detroit he can get back to receiving
The offense may have struggled a lot in the first 2 months, but it's gotten better & better in November & not much reason it shouldn't improve in December. We got a balanced run & pass ratio, 5 receivers who can catch @ any point, an O Line that while still struggling mightily isn't putting us in horrendous field position & a coaching staff who seems to now know what offensive plays to call in what situation. This offense right now is a threat & you can't ignore it. A lot of different pieces to it that when put together fit very well