The heat under offensive coordinator Ron Turner's seat is being turned up to a high level of heat here lately. Bears fans and media alike are starting to point the finger squarely at Turner for the offensive struggles of this team. There is a certain about of respect that I can give that crowd, with the speed and production from the the receiver position, the growth of Matt Forte, Greg Olsen the Bears' offense was supposed to be amongst the best in the league.
Obviously with the arrival of do it all QB Jay Cutler the Bears' offense was supposed to be at least respectable. The level of balance from the rushing attack led by Forte and the passing attack led by Cutler was supposed to mean an offensive explosion on a level never before seen here in Chicago.
Somewhere along the way however the offense has been stymied week after week by inconsistency and poor play in every aspect of it. Most notably the offensive line has been dreadful in both pass protection and run blocking. The Frank Omiyale experiment at LG lasted six miserable games. From there Orlando Pace has shown his age on more than one occasion this season which has become thoroughly unacceptable in the Windy City.
Elsewhere Greg Olsen was supposed to experience his break out year. Olsen was supposed to rocket into the upper echelons of the best TEs in the NFL. Instead Olsen is barely the fifth most productive receiver on the team right now rather than headed for his first Pro Bowl of many in his career that many of us expected.
There has even been persistent never ending rumors and rampant unfounded speculation that Matt Forte isn't quite healthy and is still possibly suffering from the effects of a pre-season hamstring injury. Given that Forte has only reached the 100-yard rushing plateau once this season, injury or no injury it's become unacceptable to see a RB thought of as being capable of being more productive than Adrian Peterson struggle so mightily.
The negatives and inefficiencies on offense reached a boiling over point with most fans after the game against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have the 31st ranked overall defense in the NFL, and were giving up an average of 171-yards rushing per game. The Bears were barely able to muster over 100-yards rushing in this game when you subtract out the 39-yard run by QB Jay Cutler.
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner now currently sits squarely in the cross hairs of the windy city faithful. Bears fans want Turner gone, not at the end of this season, mind you if it were up to them Turner would be gone tomorrow or like would have been gone after the Bengals game.
In reality though to place all the blame squarely at the foot of Ron Turner is completely unfair and is the result of angry knee jerk blame anyone but Cutler reaction by most of the fans. Sure Turner has had his fair share of questionable offensive calls, that makes me scratch my head. Examples would be the consistently predictable screen plays on third and short that went on in both the Packers and Steelers games.
However this offense suffers from a lot more than just Ron Turner being an idiot, this offense lacks in execution and plenty of mistakes. The Browns game was a classic example of this which Turner even brought up himself during the press conferences and interviews he held with the media this week. Instead of waxing poetically and sugar coating and double speaking to the media Lovie Smith style, Turner was blunt and to the point. The Bears' offense needs to come out and execute better, and the unit as a whole needs to improve is basically the line of thought Turner took.
There was a point in time where most fans in the city of Chicago appreciated this level of honesty and bluntness about it's team, apparently not anymore. Now that the fan base has essentially turned on their offensive coach no amount of straight talk or blunt criticism will suffice.
What most people seem to be missing though is the major personnel shifts and new faces Turner has faced in 2009. The Bears have seven new starters on offense this year that differ from a year ago. The Bears have had 33 different starters on offense since 2005 when Turner's tenure began. There likely isn't another team in the NFL that has that much turnover on offense over the last five seasons.
From there you can begin to see some of the major problems that Turner is facing in maintaining continuity in his offensive system. Continuity on offense is the most important aspect to success for any football team at any level. Throw in the complexity of NFL level offenses and it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how complicated it is to find success let alone maintain success in the NFL.
Not only are the Bears essentially dealing with seven new full time starters on offense in 2009 they're also dealing with seven of those players being starters in the NFL for two years or less. Hester, Bennett, Olsen, Omiyale, (now Beekman), Forte, Williams, which essentially puts them in the position of being brand spanking new NFL players.
There is really nothing to say other than Ron Turner is essentially coaching a roster of starters eight of 11 with two years of starting experience in the NFL or less. The old crusty old veterans on the Bears' offense that have been in this system for more than three years as starters are Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza and Desmond Clark. Not by coincidence these three players in the Bears' offensive system are also having arguably the best success of any of the players on offense with the Bears.
To say the Bears have a young offense that has trouble executing doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. To say that the Bears offense is young also isn't really putting it all into perspective until you dig deep into the numbers. The numbers don't lie and these are cold hard facts.
These are not excuses that I'm pulling out for Turner who has earned his fair share of criticism. But I've lived through the Gary Crowton, John Shoop and Terry Shea offensive eras in Chicago. The offensive system Turner has here is no where near as bad as the system those three coordinators implemented while in Chicago.