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Bears trying to put pieces back together
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz

 

Associated Press

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Published: 10/4/2010 7:16 PM | Updated: 10/4/2010 10:26 PM

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The Bears' offense fell apart against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands, and now it must be put back together in time for Sunday's road game against the Carolina Panthers.

That might appear to be too ambitious of a project for six days.

But Monday, after watching the horror flick that was the game film, coach Lovie Smith warned against overreacting to one bad outing, even if it was world-class bad.

"We've played four games, and we've lost one," Smith said. "Let's not panic around here. Let's look at reality. We're 3-1, and our offense has done a lot of good things. (Sunday) night we didn't get it done. It's no more than that."

But the numbers paint a horrific picture, and it goes way beyond the NFL-record 9 sacks the Bears allowed in the first half Sunday night.

The offense had just 110 total yards, the third straight week in which the production diminished. Unable to protect the quarterback or make inroads in the run game, the Bears had just 6 first downs.

They were 0-for-13 on third down and gained just 22 yards on 29 plays in the first half and a total of 39 yards on their first 36 snaps. The Bears didn't run a play in Giants territory until midway through the third quarter.

"The NFL is a humbling business," center Olin Kreutz said. "It always has been. Those guys are great players across the way. Sometimes you get your (butt) kicked, and we did."

Kreutz suggested the Bears adopt the mind-set that seemed to work for the Giants a week after they were roughed up by Tennessee 29-10.

"Teams get desperate," Kreutz said. "Tennessee got real physical with the Giants, so we knew coming in that they (would) get real physical with us, and we didn't answer the bell.

"They played desperate. It meant more to them, it seemed like, than it meant to us. Next time we have to step up to that challenge."

The Bears also have to get healthier.

It's too early to tell if quarterback Jay Cutler will be able to bounce back from the concussion that knocked him out of the Giants game at halftime.

There's a good chance he will miss at least one game, meaning a decision will have to be made to go with Todd Collins or Caleb Hanie.

Given the state of the offensive line and the way it was manhandled by the Giants, the younger, more athletic and more mobile Hanie might be the wiser choice, even though he's currently the No. 3.

Collins said the neck stinger he suffered Sunday shouldn't keep him out of the Panthers game.

Presenting the threat of a run game would make everyone's job easier.

It's easy to criticize the Bears' average gain of 3.3 yards on running plays. But they've made no commitment to the ground game, calling just 53 run plays in three games.

For the first three weeks of the season, it seemed they didn't need a running game, but Sunday's debacle has changed that thinking.

"We do need to get the running game going," Smith said. "But we need to get them both going. You've got to be able to do both in the league to win."

That might be difficult until the offensive line gets healthier.

Left tackle Chris Williams hasn't played since suffering a hamstring injury on the opening possession of Game 2, right guard Lance Louis did not play in the second half Sunday because of a knee injury, and left guard Roberto Garza is playing on a bad knee.

The Bears had masked the loss of Williams the past two weeks with solid play from Frank Omiyale, who moved from right tackle to left tackle, and Kevin Shaffer, who stepped in for Omiyale.

But both players were exposed Sunday.

The Giants got 3 sacks each from left end Justin Tuck and right end Osi Umenyiora. Maybe they miss Williams more than they knew.

"Going into the season, we had him penciled in as our starting left tackle," Smith said. "So it's got to be a positive once we get him back. He's making progress, (but) hamstrings take time. We will welcome him back with open arms."

But Williams isn't expected back for the Panthers game. Louis appears doubtful, since he was unable to return Sunday, and Garza's health couldn't have improved under the Giants' onslaught.

It may take more than one week to put the Bears' offense back together again.

Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials at DailyHerald.com