Bears' defense corrals the Rams
Offensively, the Bears only managed one touchdown and missed too many passes to regain fan confidence after last week's abysmal loss to the Packers. Michael Bush, starting for the injured Matt Forte, was one bright spot. He showed his strength as a downhill runner on the first play of the game, dominating his way through the Rams for 12 yards. Bush proved his reputation as a short-yard guru on a three-yard rush for the Bears' lone touchdown, in the second quarter. He was claiming the short yards that often elude Forte, unless the o-line happens to be on its game that day—a rarity. The balance on play calling looked like vintage Bears, with 34 (salute, Walter!) rushing plays and 31 passing plays.
Where the offense broke down is where it historically breaks down: on protection and passing. And with the personnel Cutler has in the receiving core, that shouldn't be an issue. Cutler was sacked twice. He was intercepted once, when a ball intended for Brandon Marshall bounced into the hands of Cortland Finnegan, who ran it 32 yards before being dragged down by Cutler.
Cutler had a few misfires of his own. He was only 17/31 in pass completions. But real protection would fix a lot of the issues. I'd hate to be J'Marcus Webb at this point. He's just not good and not filling his role at tackle. His quarterback is yelling at him. His coaches are yelling at him. It's the Bears' fault for continuing to pour faith into a bust pick for three years.
And with bonafide, big-bodied receiver weapons in Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, massive tight ends, and a slot receiver in Earl Bennett, there is no reason Devin Hester should ever be on the field for anything but returns. Hester missed a pass on the second play of the game, appearing to be confused as to where to line up. He also missed a key, catchable reception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Marshall or Jeffery would have easily reached up for that ball and made it a touchdown, but Hester, also about 4 inches shorter than either of them, just doesn't have the catching radius of his peers.
The kicker here is that the offense hasn't lived up to its hype from training camp. The defense, which was looked at as solid but long-in-the-tooth, has been outstanding. It's sitting at sixth overall in the league and making plays when the offense is not. But no Midway Monster can shoulder the entire load for the entire season. Offense will have to realize its potential quickly or it will be more than Cutler grumbling about teammates.