Cutler, Bears’ once-vaunted ‘O’ must have a better second half

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The Bears broke down film of the first half and showed their players the grisly scenes: mistakes and penalties, turnovers and losses.

So you ask Jay Cutler why he believes the Bears’ offense will improve, and he becomes philosophical.

“Because if we didn’t believe,” he said, “we might as well go home.”

The Bears are hanging on to hope — for lack of anything better. Hope doesn’t fix an offense, or Cutler. In the second half of the season, both must be better. And neither will improve without the other.

“You look at the film, and we’re definitely doing things to hurt ourselves,” Cutler said. “There’s no doubt about that. So if we clean up some of this stuff and get a few breaks here and there, there’s no reason why we couldn’t.”

Cutler admitted that there’s pressure to have a better second half, even as offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer described him as refreshed by the bye week.

“I think all quarterbacks throughout the league put a lot of pressure on themselves, look at themselves as leaders of the team and energize guys throughout the week and get everyone ready to play Sunday,” Cutler said.

It’s never in starker relief than against the Packers. Cutler has beaten them only once, but he couldn’t find an all-encompassing reason for the lack of success.

“Different circumstances every time,” he said.

Still, Bears coaches and Cutler’s teammates fell all over themselves Thursday to call Cutler simply one of 11 players who must improve for the offense to get better.

“The thing about playing quarterback in the National Football League is you’re relying on 10 other guys,” Kromer said. “You’re not shooting a free throw in a basketball game. You’re actually relying on a guy to block. You’re relying on a guy to run the right route.

“You’re relying on everyone to get lined up correctly. It’s impossible, really, to feel like it’s one guy.

“The bye week showed us that it’s not one guy. And [it’s] what we knew already, but it emphasized it, and we’re able to emphasize to each guy individually.”

With the worst run defense in the NFL awaiting them in Green Bay on Sunday night, the Bears’ wing-and-a-prayer hopes will involve less of Cutler’s wing.

Almost to a man, the Bears said they would rely more on running back Matt Forte, who ran 23 times for 122 yards in the first meeting.

“We can’t get into a heavy pass situation where we’re pass-pass-pass and try to get some quick ones and put points up quickly,” Cutler said. “We just have to be patient.

“Whether it’s 7-0 or 0-0 or 10-3, we gotta keep to the game plan.”

It’s a line we’ve heard before, sure. But because of stout run defenses early in the season or blowouts later, the Bears veered away from the rushing attack.

Staying on schedule with a ground game would limit the creativity of Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who uses different coverage looks and fronts on obvious passing downs.

In Week 4, the Bears gained 235 yards on 41 carries in a 38-17 loss to the Packers. They opened the game with an 81/2-minute drive and followed that up with two more first-half scores on possessions that lasted longer than five minutes.

With Aaron Rodgers on the other sideline, the Bears were in no rush to give the ball back.

“The clock runs,” coach Marc Trestman said.

It ticks, too.

“The system is coming along,” Cutler said. “It’s a work in progress. We’re still cleaning some stuff up. We’re still making some mistakes. But we’re definitely headed in that direction.”


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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