Bears need to turn to tight ends at goalline

Nearly halfway through the season, the Chicago Bears (4-3) have some concerning statistics.

First, they are the only team in the league that has not scored in the third quarter. The Bears haven’t been good coming out of the locker room after halftime, and it’s due to a variety of reasons, including turnovers and halftime adjustments that either are not made or do not work.

More concerning could be the team’s red-zone struggles. The Bears have turned the ball over in the red zone, turned it over on downs and just plain struggled. The offense has run 10 plays from the opponent’s one-yard line and failed to score.

Last time they played Oct. 24 against the Washington Redskins, quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled on a sneak from the one when he was hit by Albert Haynesworth and then London Fletcher. Of course, replays showed it would have been a touchdown if coach Lovie Smith had challenged the play.

The Bears have not used their four tight ends enough at the goalline. Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark and Kellen Davis combined for seven touchdown receptions from the three-yard line or closer to the goalline last season. The tight ends had a total of 13 touchdown catches. They’d seem to be the perfect solution to problems.

Clark dropped a pass from Cutler in September on a play from the one, but they’re skilled players and play fakes should free them up to score. Maybe it’s something offensive coordinator Mike Martz will consider. Brandon Manumaleuna is also a capable receiver at the goalline.

“We've had our moments where we've been able to make some plays,” Olsen said. “Our times will come again. As we've said all along with these things, there's a growing process, a lot of new pieces, a lot of new things going on. Everyone is going to have their chance. As long as those chances come and we make those plays, we just need to control what's in your hands.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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