The Chicago Bears have scored just 14 points in each of their first two games this season, which haven’t been enough to win either. The Bears lost 23-14 in Houston in Week 1, and they lost 29-14 to the Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 2.
What has been the issue for Chicago thus far?
“The last two weeks it’s been the third quarters,” Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They had a nice, fast start in Houston. Went down and got a scoring drive, put points on the board. And then this week, defensively they played well in the red zone, limited Philly to some field goals that kept them out of the end zone and then they were able to get a big pass to Alshon Jeffery and get Jeremy Langford in the end zone. And then bam, the third quarter hits. First series, third quarter last week in Houston, they throw an interception. Then this week, third quarter, they come out, they fumble and then they throw an interception. So it’s just the inability to play a four-quarter football game. Everybody has injuries so you don’t want to start the blame game there, and they do have a next-man-up mentality. It’s about being better, making sure they’re more efficient. They do have issues to overcome and correct, but at this stage of the season, you have to go to practice the next day with a positive mental attitude and making sure they have that next-man-up (mentality).”
Better play from Jay Cutler would help, too. Cutler was 12-of-17 for 157 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception against the Eagles. He left the game early with a thumb injury, but looking big picture, is he the right quarterback for this football team?
“That’s a good question because I do think there’s a lot of pressure on Jay to be a better quarterback, to play the position better, to be more efficient, to protect the football,” Thayer said. “You’re never going to be a one-man team. You’re going to have to have the running game, the consistency of calling it 30 times a week. That’s how you’re going to get the best out of Jay Cutler. When we saw Adam Gase here last year as the offensive coordinator, I think he took portions of the field away from Jay so he had more efficiency in his sight line to the receivers. But he ran the ball 54-55 percent of the time. That took pressure off him because the play-action pass was more effective. So you’re not counting on Jay to be a 45-drop-back-pass quarterback. You’re only using him as part of the offense and it did run efficiently last year. So I think he can be the answer to the position, but it takes more efficiency out of the running game.”
Thayer, 55, was a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears, who are considered one of the greatest teams in NFL history.
“Our culture was led by Ditka, and we kind of lived vicariously through him,” Thayer said. “He was a great football player. If you were on offense, you wanted to earn the respect of Mike Ditka. If you got the feeling that he thought you were a good player, that’s something that you strived for. Defensively, Buddy Ryan was the leader. If you could earn the respect of Buddy Ryan – if he learned your name, rather than just your number – you knew that you earned a rung on the Buddy Ryan ladder. That’s what our culture was. I think for our era, it was about earning the respect of our position coaches, our head coach, our coordinators, and that’s the way we kind of felt we earned our stripes in the locker room.”