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Sunday, September 26

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Bears Mon Sep 08 2014

Bears Offense Sputters in Overtime Loss to Bills

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngAfter two possessions, Bears fans were on top of the world. The revamped defensive line had stuffed two runs on the Bills opening drive, and the Bears responded with a four-play touchdown drive that featured a perfect deep ball from Jay Cutler along with the use of the team's top four offensive weapons. Too bad they don't give out Super Bowl trophies after four minutes.

The sped-up pace Marc Trestman wanted the offense to have was on full display. Plays were being called in quickly after the whistle, and Cutler had plenty of time to look over the defensive alignment before deciding exactly where he wanted to attack. The plan was a good one, but the execution from the guy under center left a lot to be desired.

The "more mature Cutler" was there on the first drive, but only reappeared sporadically throughout the game. It didn't help that his teammates were dropping all around him. The only offensive starter to miss a start last season was Cutler himself, and the only other one to miss significant time in-game was right tackle Jordan Mills in Week 17. Matt Slauson went down early with an ankle injury, followed by center Roberto Garza. Their replacements performed admirably though. Michael Ola jumped in at guard, while Brian de la Puente slid into the center spot and outperformed the incumbent. Mills was the weak spot yet again, allowing a number of pressures and a bad sack on Cutler; the coaches should be considering someone else for that spot.

The biggest losses came in the receiving core that already has been thinned out by preseason injuries to Domenik Hixon and Marquess Wilson. Alshon Jeffery was in and out of the game for awhile, then stood on the sideline with his helmet on for a good chunk of the second half without explanation. It was later reported that he had a hamstring injury, but the severity is unknown. Brandon Marshall got his ankle rolled badly, and though he returned to make a catch, the injury forced a missed second-down catch at the beginning of the fourth quarter that stalled another Bears drive.

Sure, backup receivers and linemen littered the field for the Bears, but that doesn't explain some of the throws Cutler made. His first interception was Martellus Bennett's fault for not turning around, but his second interception to nose tackle Kyle Williams was an absolute killer. On third-down with the team in field goal range, Cutler has to throw the ball away when the defense reads the play perfectly and all three targets are well covered. Instead of potentially going ahead 20-17, the Bears had to try and stop a Bills team taking over near midfield. There were three or four other flat-footed head-scratchers destined for the opponent's hands that just can't happen as often as they did.

Matt Forte was his usual brilliant self, gaining 169 yards from scrimmage, but in a quarterback-centric league, great performances by running backs don't translate into automatic victories. A win would've brought him almost every ounce of praise, but instead he's just another line on the stat sheet.

The thought of yesterday's game being a must-win is a bit melodramatic. Sure, losing home games to a team that just gave $5.5 million in 2014 money to a backup quarterback off the street just days before the start of the season isn't pleasant. Combined with the fact that six of the next eight Bears games are on the road makes the season seem daunting. It's not over though -- injuries, improvements and luck can change the look of the NFL on a week-to-week basis. Even though it seems unlikely after yesterday's debacle, a win next Sunday in San Francisco would put the Bears in the same spot everyone thought they'd be before the season started.

The sky isn't falling yet. The situation the Bears have put themselves in isn't a good one, but you can't make the playoffs after Week 1, and you can't miss them either. And those pining for the days of the dearly departed Josh McCown, remember that he was coaching high school football for a reason just a few years ago, and managed to do this yesterday. The NFL season is a long one, and it could all look different next week.

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