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Hub Arkush: Bears' offense hasn't unleashed full arsenal

Published: Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 8:49 p.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

It was the spring of 1959 when the Coasters released the first of their three Top 10 hits that year, "Charlie Brown." By early summer, half of America sat waiting for the chorus every time the song played: "Why is everybody always pickin' on me?"

The song is still fun today and could quite possibly be the theme song for the Bears' offense.

This week it was Jamie Dukes, former offensive lineman with the Atlanta Falcons and current analyst with the NFL Network, who joined Mully and Hanley on 670 The Score after the Bengals game and suggested the Bears' offense hasn't really changed at all.

Really? That's not what everybody else has been saying. Let's take a look.

In 2012 under Lovie Smith and Mike Tice, the Bears averaged 23.4 points a game, 310.6 yards a game on offense, 123.1 rushing yards a game, 187.4 passing yards a game, 36.5 percent third-down efficiency and 5.2 yards a play.

Against the Bengals, the Bears scored 24 points, produced 323 yards of offense, 81 yards on the ground, 242 through the air, converted 42.9 percent of the time on third down and averaged 5.3 yards a play.

Hmm, could Dukes be on to something? Maybe.

But if you understand that statistics can lie and know to look a little deeper, you can go all Lee Corso on Dukes with a "not so fast my friend."

Pull back the covers and you see that it appears a big part of coach Marc Trestman's plan is success will breed more success, and he's trying to get the fundamentals in place before he starts playing with the bells and whistles.

The reality is that the Bears' offense was different in the first half against Cincinnati than it was in the second. Asked what halftime adjustments he made, Trestman said none. He just wanted to "keep Jay clean" in the first half, in essence saying, "Let's prove to ourselves we can block this, and then we'll go for more."

In the second half, Trestman said he just started calling more of the plays in the game plan once he knew they could block them.

The offense was actually worse than last year in the first half, producing just 92 yards, but much better than 2012 in the second half, churning out 231 yards.

Jay Cutler was asked Thursday if he thinks the offense is restricted at this point.

"Yes and no," he said. "I think, at the end of the day, we want to make sure we protect and we're able to get rid of the ball. We don't want to take sacks. We want to keep the front five confident, keep me confident and believing in those guys. But, at the same time, we've got to play football. If that requires us taking a shot or getting five (receivers) out, that's what we've got to do."

Which brings us to another point about where the offense is now and where it's going. It's hard to get five receivers out if you've only got three.

That Marquess Wilson was inactive against the Bengals and Joe Anderson dressed but didn't take a single snap on offense speaks volumes about where Trestman believes his receiving corps is.

It's not to say the kids can't play, but apparently they're not ready yet. So far, it appears offensive linemen Kyle Long and Jordan Mills are ready. But they're not playing because they were so ready Trestman couldn't keep them off the field, they're playing because they have to.

Anyone who suggests this offense isn't dramatically different from what Bears fans are used to just isn't paying attention to personnel groupings, playcalling and execution.

This offense is already better than any the Bears have fielded in recent seasons and very different from what Mike Tice, Mike Martz and Ron Turner coached.

But just how good will have to wait until it's been fully taught, fully learned and until Trestman has all the bullets he needs to fully load his gun. I'm not a fan yet, I just know there's still a lot we haven't seen.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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