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Payton Presser: The Bears need direction

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) after fumbling out of bounds for a safety against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Note: This Presser was written shortly before news broke of Alshon Jeffery’s suspension for a performance-enhancing substances violation.

The Bears were coming off a much-needed bye week enabling a healthier roster. They also should have had a little more confidence after their Monday night week 8 win against the Minnesota Vikings. How would John Fox’s group, that was in good spirits heading into this game, respond? I had a hunch that the week off would be beneficial, but could also kill the momentum this ball club started to muster up. When I took a look at the Bears’ schedule before the season, I thought the second half would be easier and my feeling on that hasn’t changed. This week’s game at Tampa I had circled for a game the Bears should win.

The Bears fell to the Buccaneers 36-10.

Fox’s ball club has been consistent in one thing this season and that’s being very inconstant. I know that doesn’t surprise most of you, but it’s a glaring issue that this organization is trying to correct and until they do we will keep seeing more and more football like we did yesterday. Let’s dive into a few of my takeaways that stick out like sore thumbs. No pun intended.

Jay being Jay…again

I have a love-hate relationship with Jay Cutler, if you haven’t noticed in my previous pressers. It was just 2 weeks ago I was talking about how this Bears team was rallying around number 6 and how efficient he was in the Vikings game. This week I have to go back and talk about “bad Jay” and his questionable decision making. It’s funny to think just a few days ago when I was at Halas Hall covering practice that the talk was about how Cutler was the voice that inspired his teammates in the locker room during the Vikings game. It was foolish of me to think that things would carry over into this game. Cutler ended the game completing 16 of 30 passes for 182 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Cutler’s interceptions were back to back. The one that stung was when former Bears safety Chris Conte took it back to the house for a TD. The interceptions are one part of Cutler’s game that he can’t shake. Is it sad that every time he’s under center that I’m anticipating an interception? That’s a real problem and a problem the Bears will wash from their hands next season when they let him walk. It’s time for the split, ladies and gentleman. When Cutler was brought into this organization he was hailed as the missing piece. They looked to him to be the guy to take them over the hump. Now, he’s a liability to a team that is not good enough to overcome his mistakes. No hard feeling to Cutler, but this team will not make any type of real progress until they find a new signal caller.

An offense with no identity

The worst part about watching the Bears on offense is that we just finished week 10 and the offense has no identity. There are a bunch of factors that go into this. I can’t just blame them all on Cutler, even though I know most of you would have no problem with that. The biggest issue to me stems from the Bears offensive line that has been a revolving door this season due to injuries. They have not been able to form any type of bond in the trenches, which leads to days like Sunday where guys go down, new guys come in to fill spot and then Cutler is running for his life. The next big issue is the play calling ability of Dowell Loggains. I gave him praise after calling a great game against the Vikings. But, this week he took a step back. There is one secret to the success of this Bears offense and that is running the football. Jordan Howard had 15 carries for 100 yards. The problem is only two of those carries occurred in the second half. He is what makes this offense go, but it’s hard to run the ball when you are behind by a 1st half college basketball score. The Bears missed opportunities to run the ball in the 1st half when the game was still close. I understand he had a costly fumble, but you can’t go away from the young man. One stat that I always look at each week is 3rd down efficiency. Yesterday the Bears were 2 for 11 on 3rd down. You can’t be productive on offense if you can’t keep drives going. There’s just no way. The one thing that I miss about Bryan Hoyer is his ability to spread the ball around. Cutler is fixated on Alshon Jeffery and that hurts Jeffery’s play because defenses keep all eyes on him. Defensive backs always have help over the top. So, if there was another target or targets that could make some plays Jeffrey would get the one-on-one match ups that could be potential big-time plays. After the Hail Mary TD catch by Cameron Meredith, you would think this Bears team would go into the half with some momentum right? If they did, they never came out of halftime with it. Must have left it in the locker room.

Floyd is good and the defense played well

When it comes to Floyd, I’ve never wavered on how good this young man could be. We are now getting a chance to see why Ryan Pace and the Bears organization moved up to get the him in the 1st round of the draft. The guy that I’ve always referred to as “the project” is starting to really understand the game. There is a big difference in his play from the start of the season to the last 3 games. Yesterday, he racked up a sack for the 3rd straight game and was a constant presence in the Bucs backfield. I’ve said all along once he started to feel comfortable he would be able to go out and play free flowing football. Having Pernell McPhee back the last 3 games has been a major help as well. Floyd is a star in the making and a bright spot of this Bears defense that I look forward to watching for years to come. The defense played well yesterday as a whole. The Bears offense did them no justice by not extending drives. The youth is something to watch as the season moves along. How the young talent progresses is what I want to see.

Key Injuries

Just as this team started to get healthy they take another step back with some key injuries.

Jordan Howard (ankle or achilles)

Kyle Long (ankle)

Bobby Massie (concussion)

Will Sutton (ankle)

Growing up people would always tell me the Cubs would never win the World Series. It’s 2016 and, gosh dang-it, they broke the curse or the goat or whatever you believe in. The one thing that I got from watching the Cubs historic run to a World Championship was a sense of hope. A sense of that no matter how tough it may seem that anything is possible. The only thing is the Cubs had the stones to break it all the way down and build it back to what we saw all season long and in the Fall Classic. The job that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did was remarkable. But they had a record of getting stuff done. With Ryan Pace we don’t know if he is capable because he hasn’t done it before. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t have faith in him, because I do. But maybe there might have to be some drastic changes underneath him for this franchise to thrive once again. I just want to see the Bears win another Super Bowl before I die. Is that too much to ask? #BearDown

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