The Chicago Bears offense has been somewhat of a strange storyline this season. After the excitement of week one, when it looked like the Bears offense was going to be the explosive one that everyone expected, they began to struggle.
They showed flashes of greatness in the second half of the Dallas game, but still not enough consistency, especially when they came out sluggish in the first half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the second half of the Jacksonville game, however, that it looked as if something had clicked. The offensive line was standing their ground, the receivers and Jay Cutler were on the same page, it was the best the offense had looked under Cutler since he got here.
So just as the Bears offense has begun to click, in comes the news the Alshon Jeffery, the Bears second round pick, will miss four to six weeks with a hand injury, one he suffered in the second half of the Jaguars game. Now, what was one of the Bears biggest strengths becomes a question mark, especially considering Cutler’s former favorite target, Earl Bennett, has been dealing with an injury as well.
The Bears certainly aren’t going to revert back to the offense of the last couple years. Brandon Marshall will still be on the field, and Cutler seems to look like an unseasoned college quarterback at times, eyeing down Marshall from the snap and forcing a ball into a tight space to trying and connect with him.
The thing is, the slant route to the middle of the field has been there almost all year for Cutler and Marshall, so Cutler has had little reason to find anyone else. At some point, he is going to have to make plays, especially down field, and the absence of Jeffery will hurt that opportunity.
The first player who comes to mind when thinking about a down field threat is Devin Hester. Hester has always been seen by the Bears as a big play receiver, but he has never materialized as one. One of those reasons could be because of the deep routes he was running play after play. Now that the Bears don’t need him on the field for every play, Hester should be rested enough to beat the cornerbacks and safeties down field.
Two guys who may have a chance to prove themselves a legit option as a receiver when needed are Dane Sanzebacher and Eric Weems. Coach Lovie Smith has always had the philosophy of “next guy up,” so both should get some playing time. Sanzebacher will likely see more time than Weems, as he has experience in the Bears offense. Weems has yet to see the field for the Bears on offense, but that likely won’t last much longer.
With the Jeffery injury, it looks as if the Bears offense will need to take more time getting used to each other, as new players will step into roles they have yet to see this season. By the time Jeffery comes back, the season will be more than half way over, so it will be important that the Bears are in a situation in which Jeffery will have to fit in when he comes back, and not the other way around. Luckily for the Bears, they have a bye week to get it together.
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