Few teams this season have been worse than the Chicago Bears on offense, but the Arizona Cardinals are one of them.
The Bears are currently the 29th-ranked offense in the league, just a few spots ahead of the last-place Cardinals. The Cardinals average just 264 yards of total offense and only average 16 points per game; the Bears average 23.
A team that was once one of the most explosive in the NFL has been pedestrian at best since the retirement of Kurt Warner.
Larry Fitzgerald remains the face of the franchise, but has struggled with his production this year due to injuries and the lack of talent at the quarterback position. Through the team’s 14 games this season, he has just 61 catches for 671 yards and four touchdowns.
In the Cardinals’ last five games, Fitzgerald has just ten catches for 89 yards and no touchdowns. Because of the lack of weapons all around on this team, he is consistently double teamed while the opposition forces the quarterback to throw away from him. Expect the Bears to play no differently, with Charles Tillman likely getting the majority of the reps against him and safety Chris Conte likely dropping in on double coverage.
Rookie Michael Floyd was expected to take some of the pressure off of Fitzgerald after being selected 13th overall in last year’s draft. He has struggled at times with lapses of concentration and was dropped to fourth on the depth chart behind Andre Roberts and Early Doucet before getting his first start a couple of weeks ago against the Jets. He has 31 catches on the season for 349 yards and a touchdown, and has not progressed quite the way many expected him to.
Andre Roberts has had a solid season, hauling 56 catches for 697 yards and five touchdowns. He has struggled with an ankle injury of late, but will likely be matched up with Kelvin Hayden unless Tim Jennings is ready to return from an injury.
Much of the Cardinals’ scoring woes can be traced back to their terrible quarterback play. Kevin Kolb was expected to be the heir to Warner after being traded to the Cardinals’ prior to the 2011 season. Injuries have marred him since he’s arrived in Arizona and he was placed on injured reserve last Wednesday (h/t USA Today).
John Skelton has struggled when given the opportunity to play this season. He has just two touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, including four against the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago in his return to the lineup after being benched following their November 18th matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
Ryan Lindley replaced Skelton during the Falcons game and returned to the lineup following the poor play against the Seahawks. Lindley has struggled all around, having not thrown a touchdown yet this season and throwing nine interceptions. The Bears, fresh off a loss from the Packers, should be salivating at the chance to go up against him. If the Bears can get pressure from Julius Peppers or Corey Wootton, Lindley has the tendency to get antsy in the pocket and force throws.
The Cardinals average a league-worst 80 rushing yards a game, and despite some improvement last week against the Detroit Lions, they can easily be stopped. Beanie Wells has struggled with injuries all season and has just 231 yards of rushing on 84 carries with five touchdowns. He can still be an effective back, but injuries and a porous offensive line has rendered him ineffective. He’s still a threat at the goal line, and linebackers Nick Roach and Lance Briggs will have to do a good job of getting after his legs to slow him down.
The offensive line has had its fair share of struggles in both the passing and running game. To go along with their league-worst rushing average, the offensive line has given up the most sacks this season, with 52. Rookies Nate Potter and Bobbie Massie are starters at left and right tackle and undrafted rookie Scott Wedige is in for the injured Lyle Sendlein at center. Veterans Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder man the guard positions, but even their experience can’t help tie this battered line together.
The Bears would be wise to bring the blitz against this beaten up offensive line, but should also be able to get very good pressure with their front four, even if Henry Melton is not able to go.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.