Slow Starts by Offense Mystify Bears

Gene Chamberlain

Neither quarterback Mitchell Trubisky nor coach Matt Nagy can explain why the Bears are coming out for the start of games stuck in park on offense when they should be tearing it up at full speed.

They only know it can't continue.

“Is it frustrating? Yeah, it's frustrating, but you have to keep believing that we are going to start fast and everyone has to go out there and be on the same page, not making mistakes, and just go out there doing their jobs," Trubisky said Tuesday. "Then we're playing fast and just playing football."

The Bears go into their Thanksgiving Day game with the Lions without a first-quarter touchdown on offense since they beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 Sept. 29 to go 3-1 on the season. 

Their only first-quarter TD since then was Cordarrelle Patterson's kickoff return against the Saints. All told, they have three first-quarter touchdowns this season, and the TD against the Vikings was their only one on the first drive of a game.

They've scored only 24 points in first quarters, which ranks 30th in the NFL.

"Right now we are just making silly mistakes and it just so happens to be early in games and we've been inconsistent," Trubisky said. "But we just have to fix that and believe in the plan, know it, know it cold inside and out and just go out and execute."

Conversely, the 84 points the Bears have scored in third quarters ranks second in the entire league. Considering their offense is 29th overall and hasn't been higher than that since they were 28th in Week 1, the 84 points is fairly astounding.

Nagy doesn't sound like he has a solution coming any time soon.

"We've all kind of talked as an offense and I've asked around with some of the players and we've all kind of asked each other," Nagy said. "I think at some point in time you really realize that you understand, uh, I don't have an answer for you.

"I don't know other than I wish it was good for both: second in the first quarter and second in the third quarter."

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said it's not a simple solution because breakdowns occur in numerous areas from different players.

"It's a drop by this guy or a drop by that guy or missed throw or protection or (opponents') scheme on us," Helfrich said. "If it was easy, we would have addressed it."

Helfrich suggested they're even snakebit in a way. He brought up one play up from last week on the first drive against the Giants, when Ben Braunecker was wide open for a touchdown pass over the middle and simply dropped a ball right in his hands.

"I mean, last week you're pulling up the picture of the drop we had, I mean, there's one other person in the frame—he's going to walk into the end zone," Helfrich said. "It's just kind of like, that's it. That's the picture right there, you know, representative.

"It's funny afterward, after the win, for a second. But, all that stuff, unfortunately, it's not."

The fact they bounce back strongly in third quarters heartens Nagy, even if it comes usually as they're playing catch-up.

"What I take from that is when things aren't going well our guys aren't just folding up shop," Nagy said. "They're understanding, let's make some corrections and let's get better.

"But that's probably our No. 1 objective right now. Let's come into these games with a faster start and let's just see what happens when we do that."

Twitter@BearsOnMaven

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