ST. LOUIS – The Bears have had trouble scoring points at a winning level and the St. Louis Rams have allowed just two offensive touchdowns over their last four games.
The Rams have won all four of their games in which they have entered the fourth quarter with a lead; that happens a lot with elite defensive teams. But they also are 0-3 when trailing at halftime and 0-4 when behind after three quarters; that can happen with teams ranked 30th in scoring, which the Rams are.
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The question facing the Bears is how to maintain the pattern of keeping opponents very close and then winning with an impact play late in the fourth quarter. That has been the way in wins over Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego.
The Rams are 0-4 when failing to score 20 points. The point for the Bears will be to force St. Louis into down-and-distance situations in which running back Todd Gurley is not a go-to option as he would be in third-and-short.
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The status of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is a tipping point, with Jeffery questionable due to a groin strain. Consequently:
Bears 19, Rams 17
Rams 17, Bears 14
This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.
Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.
It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.
But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.
Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.
"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."
Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.
"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."
Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.
John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.
Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.
Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.
Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.
Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.
It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.
The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:
Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.
Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams.
Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.