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Bears' offense looks for a spark after weak efforts
By GENE CHAMBERLAIN
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky knew the numbers.
Those stats make it obvious what his team's offense needs to end a five-game losing streak Sunday at Cincinnati.
"More explosive plays," Trubisky said Wednesday.
Progress for the Bears (3-9) is being measured these days in inches instead of yards and they've ground to a complete halt. It's increasing the heat on coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, and they're searching for solutions.
"We want to be in third-and-manageable or just go first down, second down, first down with the explosive plays," Trubisky said. "We just need to get the ball into our playmakers' hands, stay efficient and be good with the football."
Fox doesn't want to place blame on his rookie quarterback, and earlier this week even called Sunday's 15-14 loss to San Francisco one of Trubisky's better games.
"I think Mitch has been outstanding," Fox said. "In fact, he even moved up a couple of spots - he's seventh in the league in third-down passer rating.
"I think he has moved up a little bit as far as rookie quarterbacks go. I think both our staff and him have done a good job."
Trubisky's passer rating (74.6) remains worse than Mike Glennon (76.9), the player he replaced. He's thrown for more than 179 yards in a game only once in eight starts, and threw for 102 last week.
"If you had told me before the (49ers) game that we were going to have no turnovers; the quarterback was going to have a 117 rating and only throw three incompletions; that we would be 50 percent on third down and 100 percent in the red area; I'd tell you that we were going to probably play well, score some points and beat an underrated football team," Loggains said. "Obviously the game didn't go the way we wanted. We're excited to move on and learn from it and get started on this week."
Chicago's offense is last in the NFL in yards, passing yards and passing attempts. The Bears average 1.8 trips inside the red zone each game, last in the league.
Loggains said defenses are scheming to prevent the Bears from going downfield with passes, although throwing to an injury-depleted receiving group makes such passes difficult anyway.
"We're getting a lot of soft zones and people have been playing with a zone vision, trying to keep the run in front of them, not trying to give up explosive runs that way," Loggains said.
He said the offense has to take its shots downfield instead of checking down to shorter passes.
"Keep making good decisions when we do call those (longer) plays, that when we dump it down to Jordan (Howard), and those things, we stay in second-and-6 and second-and-5," Loggains said. "It's hard to get in third-and-10 or take sacks on those plays."
Blocking figures to be no better for Trubisky and running back Howard, who had showings of 6 and 38 yards the last two games. The Bears on Tuesday placed three-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long on season-ending injured reserve due to a shoulder injury.
Long had also battled ankle and hand injuries.
"You know, he's a tough guy," center Cody Whitehair said. "He's what the Bears are all about: tough guys that are fighting through certain injuries. So he's going to be missed, for sure."
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated December 6, 2017
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