Josh McCown (Mike McGinnis/Getty)
With a Bears defense struggling with yards and time on the field, the offensive players said they can’t press too much in an effort to overcome defensive shortcomings.
The Chicago Bears offensive players say they do not feel any extra pressure going into Sunday’s game.
With a defense ranked last in the league against the run and a road game against the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson, the Bears’ offense is trying to help the team get a win in a key division game.
“When you’re part of a team, everybody is pulling their weight and doing what they can do to get their job done,” quarterback Josh McCown said.
“And when one side maybe doesn’t perform as well as they’d like to, it’s not the mark of a good team or a great team to look at that (struggling) side (of the ball) and say, ‘Well, that’s why.’”
The Bears’ defense has allowed 145.2 yards rushing per game, worst in the league.
So it only seems to make sense for an improved offense to think about stepping up its own production to compensate.
“As an offense you’ve just got to focus on doing your job and what you’re supposed to do,” McCown said. “You can’t get worried about anybody else because it’s hard enough to take care of what we need to do offensively, and so we just focus on ourselves.”
It’s been a role reversal for the Bears, who are fourth in scoring (27.5 points per game) and eighth in total offense (372.5 yards per game).
Those are lofty rankings for an offense that has struggled in recent seasons.
Because of their past as an offense that produced at a lower level than the defense, it might be easier for the offense to keep from pointing fingers.
“We all pull together because they (the defense) have certainly, especially over the years and even this year, certainly, done their fair share of taking over games, too, and causing turnovers and doing the things that they do,” McCown said. “So we’re a team and we’re together and that’s really all it is.”
Rather than worry about the defense, the offense is looking for ways to help. Ball control to limit Peterson’s rushing attempts might be one way.
Whether that could work remains to be seen, since the Bears controlled the ball for 36:09 last week against the St. Louis Rams in a 42-21 loss. The Rams ran for 258 yards and had it for only 23:51.
“It was a little bit unique this week,” coach Marc Trestman said. “Generally when you have 36 minutes you’re in pretty good shape, but at the end of the day, turnovers are No. 1, explosive plays are No. 2, and offensively, from their standpoint, they had too many explosive plays. … I’ve never thought that time of possession generally is always indicative of who wins a game.”
All of which begs the question, can they limit Peterson’s big plays just by keeping him off the field?
McCown thinks they can if they do something else.
“That’s always important and, as an offense you want to look up and possess the ball because that means you’re getting first downs and you’re moving the football,” McCown said. “But you’ve got to score points, as well.
“Those two things are a major focus, but any time you can have the ball more than the other team it’s one of many things that can bode well in your favor, as long as you’re finishing drives and doing the right things with it.”
The Bears’ defense is still struggling with injuries.
Trestman said linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder fracture) will not play.
It’s possible the Bears could get their first look at recently signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, as he practiced Wednesday on a limited basis.
And defensive tackle Stephen Paea could return from a toe injury, but he was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said the defense has to do its job, and will only get better through practice.
“We’re trying to accelerate the process with these guys, and get them better, faster as a unit,” he said. “We don’t have a whole heck of a lot of time.”
Running back Matt Forte missed practice Wednesday due to a knee hyperextension suffered Sunday, but he was limited Thursday and Trestman remained optimistic Forte would play.
Quarterback Jay Cutler remained sidelined at practice and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall was added to the injury report Thursday with a quadriceps injury. He was limited in practice.
For the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday as he rests a groin injury.
Defensive end Brian Robison was ill Thursday and didn’t practice.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and receiver Joe Webb both passed their post-concussion testing and were back at practice Thursday on a limited basis. They each suffered concussions Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Viking Update contributed to this report. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.