On Monday, Bears coach Lovie Smith raised expectations that the Bears' offense might emerge from the shadow of his team's record-setting defense. But both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall said we shouldn't expect too much too soon.
The Bears are third in the NFL in points per game (29.5) behind the Patriots (32.8) and Texans (29.6). But they're 13th in points scored by the offense (22.6). They're 25th in total yards.
The defense is second in points allowed (13.0) behind the 49ers (12.0). But they've also scored seven touchdowns that have produced 48 points for a net of 56 points allowed, 7.0 per game. That's unheard of in the NFL.
On his weekly radio show, Cutler challenged the defense to ''step it up.'' But he was obviously talking about small steps rather than the giant leaps Bears fans are dreaming of.
''We're not going to catch the defense this year. It's not going to happen,'' Cutler said resolutely Wednesday at Halas Hall. ''We're eight, nine years behind those guys. They've been in the same system a long time. We've just got to focus on ourselves. Every guy has just got to get a little bit better each week, everyday at practice. If we get a little bit better by the end of the season, we'll be better.''
Marshall also did not want to get too far ahead of himself.
''I think you guys have to understand [that] we're not going to look like the New England Patriots [or] the New Orleans Saints' offense,'' Marshall said. ''We're the Chicago Bears offense.
''We scored 37 points last week. We have great receivers. We have one of the best running backs. We have one of the best quarterbacks., one of the best closers in the game. We have passionate coaches. We are the Chicago Bears. And that's how we're going to win games. It's not going to look like New Orleans or Green Bay, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos. We're going to do it our way.''
Though the Bears' offense produced 37 points in the 51-20 victory over the
Tennessee Titans last week, 30 of them were scored after the defense and special teams had done most the work in building a 21-2 lead in the first quarter. In its first 11 plays of the game, the Bears gained 29 yards and had one sack, three penalties and gave up a safety.
Marshall said the offense is getting better with experience and he expects it to show improvement. The question -- particularly pertinent with the Bears facing the Texans and 49ers in there next two games -- is, when?
"I'm thinking 2015,'' Marshall said with a grin. ''We have goals. We want to win now. We're doing a good job of it. Will we be a No. 1 offense this year? I don't know. It doesn't look like it, but what we're doing is effective. We just have to be a little bit more productive and start a little bit faster.''