Strictly from a personnel and X's and O's standpoint, Sunday's Week 3 game was going to be a challenging one for the Bears offense. The unit was without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and top receiver Alshon Jeffery because of injuries. Additionally, the Bears were facing a Seattle defensive unit that is one of the league's most-talented, thanks in large part to strong safety Kam Chancellor, who missed the first two games of the season but returned just in time to face Chicago.
Offense turned out to be an even tougher task than the Bears could have imagined. Against the Seahawks, Chicago was unable to generate much of anything with the ball in the 26-0 loss. All 10 of the Bears' offensive drives ended with punts, and only once did a drive extend past six plays.
Chicago gained 21 yards on a pass from backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen to tight end Zach Miller on its first offensive play of the second half, then didn't record another first down the rest of the game.
Clausen finished 9 of 17 passing for 63 yards in the loss.
"It was tough," the quarterback said afterwards. "Our focus was run the ball against these guys. Obviously they're a great defense. They have a great pass rush. But we wanted to run the ball, and that's what we were trying to do."
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase made running a priority early in the game. Repeatedly the Bears lined up in a jumbo formations, with multiple tight ends and extra offensive linemen to provide blocking. Chicago ran the ball on 21 of its 30 offensive plays in the first half, and controlled possession for more than 18 minutes in those first two quarters.
Still, the Seahawks led 6-0 at the break, then made it 13-0 instantly on a Tyler Lockett kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kick of the second half. With that, the Chicago offensive philosophy had to change to give the offense a chance to come back. However Clausen was unable to string completions together against the stout Seattle defense.
"We want to do whatever it takes to win," said wide receiver Eddie Royal, who was held to three catches for 17 yards. "That's the mentality that we all have. If it takes for us to win to run the ball 50 times a game, we are OK with that. We are all about the team every guy in this group. That's why I love playing with these guys it's all about winning. Of course you want to make plays, everybody wants to make plays. But it's what's best for the team also."
The Bears finished the game with 27 rushing attempts, gaining 97 yards on the ground.
The hope is that the offensive performance versus Seattle was mainly a result of circumstance. Seattle entered the game desperate for a win, playing their home opener in front of their raucous fans. Add to that an injured quarterback and a banged up receiving corps, and the Chicago offense was in for a tough time.
However, to a man, Chicago's offensive players will say the circumstances provide no excuse. The unit understands it must perform better, regardless of the signal caller under center or the opponent across the line of scrimmage. Versus Oakland next week, back at Soldier Field, the Bears offense knows that they need to give their defense a chance by extending drives and making big plays down the field.
"[We need] to continue to block our assignments and give the quarterback enough time to throw," right tackle Kyle Long said. "... You want to be able to establish the ground game, and that will take the pressure off your passer and give guys downfield time to get open. We've got to do a better job at that."