Passing game suffering from lack of consistency
Q. Why has the passing game struggled in the past five weeks?
A. You have to look at Kyle Orton's ankle injury. There has been a lack of consistency and a lack of the same receivers being in the same position for a long period of time. People talk about how important continuity is on the offensive line, but just like on the offensive line, you need consistency of every day performance by the quarterback and the receivers.
Then you also have had a situation where one week the defense is playing 6-8 yards off the ball and then the next three weeks, because you were challenged with press coverage and didn't respond well, you get a lot more press coverage.
You're trying to develop Devin Hester as a receiver, but he's also trying to learn fundamentals as he's going along, and it's going to slow the process.
Q. Because the receivers struggled against press coverage will they continue to see a lot more of it?
A. It will be used more frequently until they prove there is a player on the Bears who can beat press coverage. You're not looking at a batch of receivers like Terrell Owens or Andre Johnson or Anquan Boldin, guys who are 6-foot-plus, carry a lot of body weight and have strength at the line of scrimmage. Rashied Davis and Devin Hester are considered undersized. Until they show that they're a real threat against press coverage, they're going to get confronted at the line of scrimmage.
Q. Brandon Lloyd was the Bears' most productive wide receiver before his knee injury. Why has he been a nonfactor since returning?
A. Lost practice time, which results in a lack of timing with Kyle Orton. You go through training camp and the early part of the season and you're getting a lot of balls thrown your way because you've shown evidence that you have a little bit more speed than the rest of the guys. But then you miss six weeks and you lose that continuity. It's hard to pick up right where you left off.
Q. What improvements and adjustments must be made if the Bears are to run the table?
A. Because the weather the next three weeks will be a factor, you have to make sure you have a cold-weather game plan.
That starts with being able to run the ball, and if you're going to run the ball in inclement weather, you better have a bread-and-butter selection. It may be only three plays, and it could be as much as five, but you better have something that you can use to confront any defense, anywhere on the field and know that you have confidence to move the ball.
The other thing is open-field tackling on what could be a sloppy field. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor really scare me because the Jaguars have the worst choreographed offensive line I've seen in a long time, but those two running backs are willing to freelance.
If they immediately see that point of attack is going nowhere, they're going to cut it back. When you cut it backside, that's when you're going to have those 1-on-1 confrontations. If someone misses a tackle, the Bears could have some big running plays against them.
Q. How much impact will Dusty Dvoracek's season-ending biceps injury have on the defense?
A. Dusty had been playing well, and the one thing he brings is a lot of enthusiasm, which spills over. Besides Anthony Adams, I would like to see Matt Toeaina get an opportunity. He's a big guy. He's a 300-pound-plus guy inside.
Is Dvoracek's loss it going to hurt the defense? No. This is the land of opportunity. Toeaina has been inactive all season, but he may get a chance to play and show that he can perform at this level.
It's unfortunate for Dusty, but they've got players who can fill in.
Q. What caused the Bears' failures at the goal line in Minnesota?
A. On two of the four plays there was an opportunity to score, and I thought it was a lack of experience by Matt Forte. The guys is an incredible football player, but what he'll learn more from that goal-line stand could last him the rest of his career.
When you're running the ball on the goal line, you either follow the play called or, if you decide to change the course of the play on your own, you better commit to the end zone. He had an opportunity on the second-down play. It was a nine-hole call (around left end), and rather than staying with it, he saw something open to the inside, which was not a bad read by him, but he did have a hesitation that allowed three defenders to come under balance and confront him at the goal line.
One isn't going to beat three. On the fourth-down play, he had a second of hesitation and that allowed the backside defensive end to close down and make a play. If we would have stayed full speed to exactly the hole called, he would have been in the end zone.