4 Issues Chicago Bears Should Address During Bye Week
The Chicago Bears have some major issues they need to address during this week's bye week.
But the Monsters of the Midway shouldn't be crowned NFC North champs just yet after beating up on some weak competition in the early going.
Following the Week 6 bye, the Bears host a desperate Lions team on Monday Night Football, and they still have to play the league's two top teams, the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, in back-to-back weeks.
After that, the Bears still have to play the Vikings twice, who are a surprising 4-1, and the Packers and Lions again.
Let's take a look at a few things this team needs to focus on during the bye week.
The offense has gotten off to sluggish starts in games this year. It seems that the defense has needed to make big plays to spark the offense.
In the Week 5 win, the Bears and Jags were tied 3-3 at half, but the offense did not really get going until after Charles Tillman returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Early in games, the offense seems to be trying to avoid making a big mistake. They commit early down penalties and get forced into third-and-long situations. Then, they elect to play it safe and punt it away hoping the defense makes a big play.
If the defense does not make big plays, will the offense be able to score a touchdown in a tight game?
What if an opponent goes up 10 or 14 points early and the offense has to respond to adversity?
It remains to be seen if Jay Cutler can lead the Bears back from a deficit.
Head coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice must work with the offense this week to come out stronger against the Lions in Week 7.
Wide Receiver Situation
According to Sean Jensen and Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, Alshon Jeffery will be out 4-6 weeks after fracturing his hand catching a touchdown pass in the win over Jacksonville.
Jeffery has been Jay Cutler's second option this season, snagging 14 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
Brandon Marshall (35 catches, 496 yards, three TD's) has been excellent as Jay Cutler's favorite target, but behind him and Jeffery, no receiver has more than seven receptions.
Devin Hester and Earl Bennett will have to step up and take some pressure off Brandon Marshall, who probably will see a lot of double coverage in the coming weeks.
Running back Matt Forte has 10 receptions and Kellen Davis has eight. They also should have an increased role in the coming weeks.
Continue Improving on the Offensive Line
Since Cutler was sacked seven times by the Packers in Week 2, he only has been sacked five times in the last three games; all Bears wins.
The offensive line has done a better job of keeping Cutler on his feet, but the Bears will face better pass rushes in the coming weeks.
The unit must also work at eliminating penalties that back the offense up and make it difficult to pick up first downs. It also might be beneficial to try pumping in crowd noise during some practices so the line can better prepare for the type of environment it will face on the road.
Get Devin Hester Going in Return Game
Through five games this year, Devin Hester's longest punt return went for 23 yards and longest kick return stretched 38 yards.
Hester holds the NFL regular season record for most career combined special teams return touchdowns with 18, but he has yet to break one for a touchdown this season.
New kickoff rules implemented before the 2011 season, coupled with teams kicking away from Hester has made it difficult for him to return one.
The special teams unit must open up seams for Hester, and he must take advantage of them when given the opportunity.
The defense will not be able to consistently come up with big touchdowns like they have in the past two weeks. Hester will need to break a long return in the coming weeks to give a boost to the offense and defense.