Where is the Bears offense going with Cutler, Martz?

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Where is the Bears offense going with Cutler, Martz?

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.

YearQBCoordinatorOffense points
2008Kyle OrtonRex GrossmanRon Turner
2122009Jay CutlerRon Turner
202
2010Jay CutlerMike Martz
2002011Jay CutlerMike Martz
168 (projected)

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.