by Carlos Nazario
As I have said throughout the preseason, the key to the Bears success this season will lay upon the broad shoulders of their offensive line. On Sunday, those shoulders collapsed under the weight of all their expectations. The New Orleans Saints beat the Bears 30-13 and battered Jay Cutler.
For the second straight week, the offensive line gave up 5 sacks or more (6) and has allowed 11 sacks in two games. Granted, they were minus Lance Louis (ankle) and Gabe Carimi (knee), but their play was just plain awful. Cutler was running for his life most of the game, and was even kicked in his throat at one point.
Even with the offensive line doing well in the first half, the offense was still sluggish. The running game never got going, and the leading receiver again was running back Matt Forte. In fact, Forte was the offense, literally. He had 166 total yards (49 rushing 117 receiving) of the Bears 246. That is an amazing 67% of the total offense coming from Forte.
The receivers also need to step up in order for the Bears to have a successful season. The top four Bears receivers caught 4 passes. Forte had 10 all by himself, and undrafted rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher had 3.
The unbalanced play selection is something of a concern. The Bears only ran 12 times, gaining 60 yards, and threw 45 passes. This allowed the Saints to concentrate on the pass, and it made the day more difficult for Cutler and the receivers.
Even though Cutler was running for his life, when he did have time he got nice chunks of yards. He threw for 244 yards, while Drew Brees, New Orleans’ quarterback, cruised for 270.
After the game, head coach Lovie Smith downplayed a bit the failure of the line.
“I can’t say we missed assignments. They played better than we did. They got pressure on the quarterback. Some of them were [missed assignments], but when you have that many sacks, it’s a combination of assignments, and some of them just winning.”
Cutler stated what could be considered a major understatement. “It was a long day out there,” he said. “I had to throw a lot of balls before I wanted to… The Saints were the better team today. They rushed me hard and forced our offense to do things we didn’t want to do.”
The Bears better figure out how to do the things they want to do in a hurry. They are at home facing the defending champions and hated rivals Green Bay Packers next week. If there is a repeat of this game next week, Cutler may need to be taken out on a stretcher.