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SportsMonday: Jekyll And Jay

Are we sure Marc Trestman actually has an offensive system?

Because so far the Bear offense is uneven except for when it's downright choppy. And that is the case whether the team is moving the football or not.

Of course it is still early. Of course the team has won three of four featuring two victories at home and one on the road (let me be the millionth analyst to point out that a general rule for sports success is win at home and split on the road). Yesterday's 40-32 loss in Detroit was frustrating but into each football season at least a few losses must fall, except for maybe this year's Broncos.

Coach Trestman's professional pedigree stretches back most impressively to Steve Young and the 49ers and many expected him to employ more of a West Coast scheme featuring short passes to running backs and tight ends. Those passes establish a rhythm and set up the run.

That isn't happening.

There also haven't been any other familiar formulas, like running the football early to set up play-action passes further down the line, or working the ball down the field consistently to set up passes underneath. The Bears have had success throwing the deep ball but that hasn't been followed by receivers driving cornerbacks deep and then cutting off their routes and making catches coming back. Actually, there have been passes underneath to Matt Forte the past few weeks . . . and usually they've sucked.

Part of that is poor execution. Jay Cutler threw a few brutal picks on Sunday but almost more disturbingly, he failed to hit Forte in stride on anything other than a pitch for a singular sensation sweep (following a 27-yard end around by Alshon Jeffery) that gave Bear fans false hope in the first half.

Then again, nothing could be more disturbing than Jay's second interception, which Glover Quin ran back to the Bears' 2. One play later the Lions had a 13-point lead and the game was effectively over.

Sadly, it wasn't just a routine pick, but a pick caused by atrocious mechanics resulting from a pass rush. There was a bit of a surge up the middle but it was stopped short of Cutler, who then failed to completely step into his throw and egregiously underthrew an open Brandon Marshall deep down the right sideline. ("He just didn't get his feet set," Trestman said after the game.) It was an interception that happened on a play that easily could have been a huge gain.

Now one offensive scheme the Bears continue to employ is Protect Cutler At All Costs. At one point Fox analyst Brian Billick pointed out that the Bears were using an extra offensive lineman. That is a formation often seen at the goal line but the Bears were out and about in the middle of the field. And I suppose that has worked through the first quarter of the season. While Cutler took a few hits on Sunday, including a dangerous one near one of his knees, he came out of the game with a clear head.

Maybe classic West Coast offense simply isn't feasible in this day and age. Ever faster linebackers and teams playing more and more zone defenses may have made that overall scheme obsolete.

However they are going to play it, it is time for the Bears to start putting game-long series' of plays together. You want to see your team play to some of its strengths early, establish some tendencies and then use those to deceive opponents further down the line. Of course, they have to do that without getting too far away from their best stuff too frequently. Easier said than done but that is the sort of coach Trestman is supposed to be. It is why he was hired.

Also, what we are talking about here is teams that win with offense. And it is becoming more apparent that the Bears will have to do that to some degree. Whether it is because key contributors are slowing down with age or new players have disappointed so far, this defense hasn't been as good as hoped. And the special teams have been worse.

Still, the Bears are tied for first. They are where they want to be. Right? Anyone?


See also:
* Hoge: Cutler Gets It - Loss On Him.

* Tribune: Jeffery A Bright Spot In Frustrating Loss.

* Sun-Times: Jeffery A Bright Light On Gloomy Day.

* Sun-Times: Podlesh Disappointed In His Performance.

* Deadspin: Bears Believe Idonije Gave Lions Their Defensive Calls.

* Sun-Times: Bears Defense Has Holes And Reggie Bush Found Them.

* Detroit Free Press: How The Lions Won.

* Detroit Free Press: Both Lines Earn An 'A'.

* Tribune: Kyle Long Gets Schooled By Suh.

* Deadspin: Matthew Stafford Now Completing Touchdown Passes To Himself.


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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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