LeGere: No fix in sight for Bears' offense

  • Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is stopped by Detroit Lions linebacker Josh Bynes during the second half of Thursday's game in Detroit.

    Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is stopped by Detroit Lions linebacker Josh Bynes during the second half of Thursday's game in Detroit. Associated Press

  • Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is stopped by Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23) and linebacker Josh Bynes (57) during the second half of the Bears' Thanksgiving loss.

    Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is stopped by Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23) and linebacker Josh Bynes (57) during the second half of the Bears' Thanksgiving loss. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/29/2014 11:52 PM

The Bears are operating with a broken offense, and they don't seem to know how to fix it.

That much was evident Thanksgiving when 51 pass plays and 8 run plays passed for offensive balance. The 13 yards the Bears managed on the ground (1.6-yard average) tied their lowest output since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, according to ESPN.

 

But it's more than just an imbalance in play-calling.

In five of their 12 games, the Bears had fewer than 270 yards in total offense in a league where the average is 355. There are breakdowns on multiple levels. The Bears have yet to score more than 28 points in any game this season after scoring 30 or more six times last year with essentially the same personnel.

Those aren't the kind of numbers anyone expected from the unit that was supposed to carry the team.

The most depressing aspect of the regression from 2013 is that the offense seems to be getting worse as the season goes along. Of those five games with fewer than 270 total yards, three have come in the past six.

"We had opportunities offensively to move the football, to keep drives alive, to keep the defense off the field," coach Marc Trestman said. "We just didn't play well, that's the bottom line."

The Bears are minus-4 in turnovers, and 20 of their 23 giveaways have been committed by quarterback Jay Cutler. He was intercepted twice Thursday, and although the final-play pick was meaningless, he still has 14 interceptions this season and his 20 turnovers are the most in the NFL.

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There is almost no difference in penalties and penalty yardage between the Bears and their opponents. However, it seems many of the Bears' infractions come at the most inopportune times.

Against the Lions, center Roberto Garza was flagged twice for holding, the first of which was a killer. It wiped out a 22-yard reception by Martellus Bennett that would have given the Bears a first-and-10 at the Lions' 20. Instead, after 2 incomplete passes the Bears were forced to punt.

There also have been some ill-timed dropped passes, which Cutler uncharacteristically mentioned when asked Thursday how Brandon Marshall played.

"He had a couple drops," Cutler said. "He made some catches for us. I'm not sure how he blocked. A lot of that stuff we have to see on film, so it wouldn't be fair to grade some of these guys out."

Marshall, who seems like less and less of a big-play guy as the season winds down, was targeted 11 times and had 6 catches for just 42 yards, an average of 7.0 yards per catch -- or, less than 4.0 yards per target.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Marshall has 8 touchdown catches and remains an effective red-zone weapon, but he's averaging just 11.4 yards per catch this year, which would be the second lowest of his career.

Marshall has more than 52 receiving yards in just four of 12 games, and he's on pace for 893 yards for the season, by far his least productive since his rookie year.

The only balance to the Bears' offense against the Lions was in the way they used Forte. He had 6 catches and 5 carries, not nearly enough touches and certainly not enough carries to keep any defense honest.

In the Bears' last 3 wins, Forte averaged 28.7 touches and 22 carries. In the last 4 losses, Forte averaged 18.5 touches and 13.3 carries.

Forte didn't complain about his workload at Detroit, but he admitted there's a lot wrong with the offense.

"I could stand here all day and talk about it," he said. "But I'm not going to point the finger or anything like that. There are a thousand things you could talk about, penalties, all kinds of stuff, (like) shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of the time."

It all adds up to an offense that needs fixing.

• The Bears signed safety Anthony Walters to the 53-man roster Saturday.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Walters played in 33 games with one start for the Bears from 2011-13 and was a key special-teams performer. He was in training camp with the Arizona Cardinals this season.

Defensive end Jamil Merrell was signed to the practice squad.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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