The Bears returned to the practice field Wednesday, determined to fix a struggling offense. The first step, according to quarterback Nick Foles, is to create an identity and find an answer to one critical question.
"Who do we want to be with the personnel and the coaches that we have?" Foles said. "That's really the question, and that's what we're working towards. That's where we started the work day today."
Foles and his teammates were happy to be back at practice Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season in a disappointing 24-10 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles.
"It's great to be back at work," Foles said. "It's great to be back in the building. It's never easy after a tough game like that, but it's important. Like you've all heard me say, the 24-hour rule: win or lose, you move on and you deal with the emotions and you grow from it."
Growth is urgently needed on an offense that has scored just five touchdowns in its last four games. The good news is that the Bears won three of those four contests thanks primarily to a stingy, opportunistic defense and remain in the thick of the playoff race with a 5-2 record.
But it's no secret that they likely will only remain in contention with improved play from an offense that will enter Week 8 ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring, 29th in yards, 32nd in rushing, 25th in passing, 30th in third-down efficiency and 29th in the red zone.
To Foles, establishing an offensive identity begins with determining how to best utilize individual players within the system.
"It's, 'What do we want to do schematically with the personnel?'" Foles said. "'Who are our players and what do they do well and how do we scheme around that?' That's what our coaches are working towards.
"That's what great offenses do is they scheme around their personnel and who they have to put their players in the best position to be successful when it's gameday, and that's what we're going through right now."
One improvement that is paramount for the Bears to make involves their running game. After rushing for an average of 138.0 yards in their first three games, they've been held to an average of 43.8 yards on the ground in their last four contests. A more productive ground game would limit predictable passing situations and enable play-action passes to be more effective.
"The biggest thing with an offense is keeping the defense off-balance," Foles said. "That's the greatest tool for any offensive line is when the D-line doesn't know what's happening and the linebackers don't know what's happening, and we can keep them off-balance."
Foles no doubt knows that fans are tired of hearing that it will take time and it's not an overnight process. But the reality is that not only is the quarterback in his first season with the Bears, but so is offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, offensive line coach Juan Castillo and tight ends coach Clancy Barone.
"You've got to realize this is the first time really we've all been together," Foles said. "It's a lot of new coaches, new players, and it's not an excuse, that's just the reality of the situation. Anytime you bring in new players and new staff—there's a lot of new this year—that takes time, and that's a process every time. Very seldom does it just click right away.
"I know everyone wants it to just, boom, happen. But if that was the case, there'd be a lot more people playing this game, because it's not easy and some teams don't figure it out. But the people here want to figure it out. We have the personnel to be successful. Now we've just got to continue to put it out there and believe and go out there and do it on gameday."