The yardage explosion perpetrated on the Bears by Cam Newton & Associates and the one delivered by Matt Forte and the offensive line Sunday pulled attention away from a disturbing slide that the Bears need to reverse if they have even a remote hope of playing more than 16 games for the 2011 season:
The offense was expected to take flight literally and figuratively after the trade for Jay Cutler and hiring of coordinator Mike Martz.
The trend line, however, is going in the wrong direction with both.
2008Kyle OrtonRex GrossmanRon Turner
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Through the first quarter of the 2011 season, the Bears special teams and defense have accounted for more points (52) than the offense (42). This is not a good thing.
An obvious qualifier would be the production of kicker Robbie Gould, whose 34 points so far might be construed as offensive points. Indeed, some are.
But five of Goulds eight 2011 field goals have been 26 yards or shorter, meaning failed drives in red zones.
For purposes of perspective: Of the Bears 334 points in 2010, Gould accounted for 110; Devin Hester returned three kicks for scores and D.J. Moore scored with an interception return to account for 24 more.
The offense scored 200. At the current pace, the offense will score just 168 for 2011.
"Were not playing perfect football, Cutler said. We know that. We should get better. We got the W, which is always good, but there is going to be room for improvement.
Changes, but for the better?
Skewing the offense toward the pass has produced fewer points but far more abuse of Cutler, although sack totals have not correlated to passer rating in Cutlers career.
Blame can be heaped on offensive lines and receiver groups. But the receiving corps was ostensibly upgraded with Roy Williams (over Devin Aromashodu) and Sam Hurd (over Rashied Davis). And the talk during training camp and preseason of what the second year in the system was going to be like take that particular excuse out of play.
None of the 2008-2011 offenses had anything close to the offensive line quality that the 2005-2007 teams did with Olin Kreutz at center, Roberto Garza and Ruben Brown at guards and Fred Miller and John Tait at tackles.
The 2008 offensive line had Josh Beekman starting at left guard. The 2009 group had Orlando Pace at left tackle initially and Frank Omiyale in and out of the lineup at left guard, with Chris Williams at right tackle and then at left.
Sundays game, with Lance Louis not starting but playing right guard, right tackle and short-yardage tight end, Omiyale benched then back in the lineup and right guard Chris Spencer out for a time with a fractured right hand, did have 20 points scored by the offense and Gould.
Im pleased for the most part with what were doing, said coach Lovie Smith. Were just still not quite there yet, but were making progress. Last week vs. Green Bay even though we didnt see as much progress as we wanted, we saw some, and we saw more this week.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.