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Turner: Offense struggled with youth, inexperience this season
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Three of the Bears' top four wide receivers, including rookie Johnny Knox, had started a total of one NFL game going into the season with new quarterback Jay Cutler.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/3/2010 9:59 PM

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Embattled Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner couldn't have asked for much more productivity from his group than he got in the past two weeks, but it might not be enough to save his job and the jobs of some of his assistants.

"I'm pleased with the way we played today," Turner said, adding that he expected to be brought back. "The last couple weeks our guys responded and when (the Lions) scored to tie it up, our guys showed what they're made of and showed their character."

After a season-high 418 yards of total offense and 37 points, Turner explained the sometimes painstaking process of melding a productive unit using several young, inexperienced players. Three of the Bears' top four wide receivers (rookie Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett) had started a total of one NFL game going into the season with new quarterback Jay Cutler. There were three new starters on the offensive line, one who had never started an NFL game (Chris Williams) and another who had started one (Frank Omiyale).

"Everyone wants instant gratification," Turner said. "Everyone wants instant success, including us. You get a guy the caliber of Jay in here and everybody says, 'OK, now it's all going to click.' Well, it takes time.

"(On the offensive line), two had never played or played very, very little, and all of a sudden they're starting. If you look at where they are now and where they were at the beginning of the season, they're different players. We had three receivers that had never played (much) until this year."

Bennett didn't catch a pass as a rookie last season. Aromashodu had 7 catches in parts of four NFL seasons.

"If you look at the film early in the year and look at it now, they're playing at a different level," Turner said. "Their confidence level is so much higher, and Jay's confidence level in them is so much higher. But it doesn't happen overnight. They continue to make great progress."

Sophomore slump: Matt Forte said on WBBM's pregame show that a knee injury in the preseason affected his play early in the season.

"I think it had something to do with it," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "I don't think he was as healthy as he was a year ago. I think there was a drop-off definitely. I don't think he had the acceleration and the burst that we normally see from him. But I think, as the season went on that improved, as the confidence in the (offensive) line grew."

Forte's 101 yards on 16 carries against the Lions left him with 929 yards on 258 carries and a 3.6-yard average. Last year as a rookie, he rushed for 1,238 yards on 316 carries and a 3.9-yard average.

It's the players: Tight end Desmond Clark, who ended his 11th NFL season with TD catches in each of his final two games, doesn't blame the coaching staff for any of the team's offensive struggles this season.

"I know all the speculation has been on the offensive staff, saying that we're going to have to get new coaches," Clark said. "We have a great offensive coaching staff. We have coaches that get us ready to play every week. Personally, my coach, Rob Boras, I've never gone into a football game without being prepared. If I played bad it was because of me, because every week he got us prepared for every possible look that a team could bring at us."